Author: Nahal, Anita
Date published: May 10, 2012
May is Asian-Pacific Heritage Month. In its wake let's look at study abroad trends of American students, especially those at HBCUs who go to the Asian region. I believe that study abroad has two components: students going out of the US. and students coming into the US. I call this the "Study Abroad-Here and There (HAT)" experience. One needs to throw a diverse packet of experiences into the HAT: travel, interacting with international students, taking courses on different countries and cultures as well as participating in co-curricular events and programs that focus on unique cultures and countries. Through the HAT approach, domestic students can acquire broader and more holistic benefits of such an approach. Sometimes, universities focus so much on sending students abroad that they overlook tapping into the international students on their campus who are in the US. on their own study abroad experience and who, in turn, can provide a different kind of global experience to domestic students.
American Students Studying Abroad and Study Abroad in Asia:
As per the International Institute of Education's (HE) Open Doors Report, of the top 20 US. institutions awarding credit for study abroad in 2009-10, not one was an HBCU The same report tells us that, for the top 25 destinations for study abroad for American students, only three Asian countries were a serious consideration: China stood at number five, Japan at 11 and India at 14. China and India are part of the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-IndiaChina-South Africa) countries that are predicted as the future top global economies by 2040. Besides China and India, two other BRICS countries were in the top 25 destinations: South Africa stood at 13 and Brazil at 20. Russia did not make the list
In terms of the race/ethnicity of American students studying abroad between 2000-01 and 2009-10, it is interesting to note that travel abroad among White students has declined (84.3 percent to 78.7 percent) while it has increased among African-American students, though not substantially (3.5 percent to 4.7 percent). Travel abroad among Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students also has increased (all three combined from 5.4 percent to 7.9 percent) and Hispanic students from 5.4 percent to 6.4 percent. The ratio for Native American students remains the same (0.5 percent).
International Students Studyingin the U.S.:
When we look at the second component of study abroad that of international students coming to the US., the ?? data reveal that, of the top 25 countries sending students to the US., 12 are from Asia and four of these are from BRICS. Only South Africa is not on the list
Thus the data reveal that while Asian students and those from BRIGS populate the list by sending students to study in the US., for American students, the Asian or BRICS do not make the top of the list for study abroad destinations.
Why is that? Qven the importance of Asian economies and the rise of the BRICS in the 21st century, why are these not capturing the imagination of American students looking to study abroad? Also, given the fact that the population of the US. is becoming more diverse with an increase in the Asian population from 3.6 percent in 2000 to 48 percent in 2010, why are American students not showing an eagerness to learn about Asian countries and cultures in their study abroad programs?
And then how do we arrive at a better understanding of HBCUs and study abroad in particular in Asia or in the BRICS? The ?? data give us some direction on how to analyze the relationship between HBCUs and study abroad (increase of African-American students going to study abroad), but it does not provide us with much more than that. So how do HBCUs view study abroad; which students travel from HBCUs: undergraduate, graduate or professional; how many of the 105 HBCUs have study abroad programs in place; what is the ratio of international students coming to HBCUs to study and how many are from Asian countries or from the BRICS; how is study abroad inculcated into the curriculum at HBCUs; and besides traveling abroad what other elements of study abroad do HBCUs develop on their campuses in terms of co-curricular events and programs, and courses offered on different cultures and countries - the HAT experience?
Three global destinations that need to be tapped into by students at HBCUs are China, India and Brazil· All three are fast-emerging economies, and, if African-American students are preparing to work in a global economy, then these three nations are very significant. Brazil is especially significant, because its president has announced a "Science Without Borders" initiative, which aims to build and expand Brazil's role as a global leader by sending about 100,000 Brazilian students in science and technology fields to study abroad in the next four years, with at least half coming to the United States. HBCUs need to connect with universities in Brazil to bring their students here and to send students to Brazil· With its huge Afro-Brazilian population, it is a natural study abroad destination for understanding Pan Africanism. India is another such country where there was huge migration and travel of Africans in ancient and medieval times. Both countries also are populated by people of color and thus have a natural affinity with African-Americans.
Thus, in sending abroad and bringing in students to their universities, HBCUs need to support - via policy and funding - study abroad-HAT experiences for their students. In addition, they need to actively recruit international students, especially from China, India and Brazil· Recruiting from China and India will be a challenge since students from these countries traditionally seek admission in non-HBCUs.
- Anita Nahal, Ph.D. is founder and chairperson of www. diversitydiscover.com