With “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019,” people of the African diaspora have been focused on returning home to Africa. This includes the victims of the Transatlantic slave trade in America, those who have shifted their attention to living outside the U.S.

Living in another country has its benefits, and an option available to students to experience life outside of these borders is to travel in a study abroad or student exchange program.

A number of programs offer high school students the opportunity to study abroad or live with a family in another country for a summer, semester or year. Other programs allow college and university students to travel abroad to study, work or volunteer in a foreign country. For example, the U.S. Department of State and other agencies support study and research abroad programs for K-12 students, college students, educators and scholars and offers scholarships and grants. And the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Embassy of Japan sponsor a funded cultural immersion program in Tokyo.

What are the benefits of studying abroad? The reasons for doing this are many.

In a global interdependent economy, foreign experience makes you more marketable and opens the door to new career options. Future leaders must be prepared to work in a highly complex environment with people from different cultures and backgrounds.  Being able to change the world or improve the world means having exposure to that world and being able to operate within it with ease.

Traveling, studying and living in another country may force you to view reality in a completely different way, and that is a good thing. Observing firsthand other ways of approaching life boosts your creativity, improves your skillset and allows you to function in highly complex, more complicated and even unexpected situations. Being thrust in an unfamiliar space with people who speak another language or were raised in a different culture with alternate assumptions can be a transformative experience-- with potential benefits you may not even anticipate.

Removing ourselves from America—with its social and emotional baggage, and 400 years of Black trauma under slavery, segregation and systemic racism—can be a liberating journey. Black people have the chance to invigorate their spirit and boost their creativity and sense of purpose when they get up and leave. Consider Malcolm X and the impact of his visits to Africa and to Mecca, or W.E. B. DuBois, the pan-African scholar and leader who moved to Ghana to spend the remainder of his life. And Black artists, musicians, writers and intellectuals such as Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, Paul Robeson and Richard Wright lived in Europe and made a lasting global impact. 

When someone tells you America is the greatest country on Earth, it is possible they never traveled out of their own neighborhood. Don’t take their word for it. See the world and see it all for yourself. We don’t have to be limited to the confines of America or defined by America. Now is the time to expand our horizon and worldview.

David A. Love, JD - Serves

BlackCommentator.com as Executive

Editor. He is a journalist, commentator,

human rights advocate, a Professor at

the Rutgers University School of

Communication and Information based in

Philadelphia, a contributor to Four

Hundred Souls: A Community History of

African America, 1619-2019, The

Washington Post, theGrio,

AtlantaBlackStar, The Progressive,

CNN.com, Morpheus, NewsWorks and

The Huffington Post. He also blogs at

davidalove.com. Contact Mr. Love and


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