Study abroad program seeks diversity
Studying abroad has proven to be a powerful tool that college students have been using to their advantage for years. More recently, Bardoli Global, Inc., a Houston-based organization, has sought to increase participation in study abroad programs, whether it is through school – or faculty – led programs.
One of its biggest goals as a non-profit organization is to increase the participation of minorities. According to a study by the Institute of International Education, only 17 percent of students studying abroad are minorities.
"Diversity in study abroad has been a long talked-about and lamented problem," Executive Director of Bardoli Global, Anthony Jewett, told the IIE. "My experience in studying abroad let me put together a program model of what a student would need to get from college to a study abroad program."
Bardoli will select 80 minority college students and 20 minority high school students from the Houston area to study abroad as a Bardoli Global scholar or fellow.
Jewett plans to expand into four more cities. Expansion to Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Phoenix are all in the works, and Jewett plans to have at least 100 students from each city participating in the program.
Elizabeth Reddon, a reporter for Inside Higher Education, said that a lack of information access contributes to low participation rates.
"Without a role model who has studied abroad, you would be less likely to know what programs, resources and scholarships might be available," Reddon said.
Parul Fernandes, director of the Office of International Studies and Programs at UH, said that financial limitations are one of the biggest setbacks for minorities and directly affects their participation in study abroad programs.
There are several benefits a student receives while studying abroad, including course credit at UH, even if they do not attend the University, Fernandes said.
"Students have to make themselves competitive in the global talent race," Fernandes said. "The one way to win is to get first-hand knowledge of the different cultures and languages."