Skip to content

Global Engagement Diversity and Identity

At The College of Wooster, we follow all federal and state civil rights laws banning discrimination in private institutions of higher education. The College takes our policies on non-discrimination, sexual harassment, and other Title IX-related offenses seriously. As a student abroad, you will realize how your identity is intersectional with your soon-to-live experiences. Our Wooster students need to consider how they will be equipped to have an enriching experience abroad. You soon will also realize that your host country could have different norms from the federal and state civil rights regarding your rights. How they see you identify as an individual, maybe you require special services and accommodations, or even a safe place to express your faith. You will undoubtedly have a great multicultural experience abroad while learning a second language or just simply studying with fellows from other countries/local-host countries. However, not all countries are equipped with a system that could guarantee support or access to different individual needs. This personal growth journey could bring frustration, uncertainty, and sometimes stress. Hence, we ask you to learn more about your country and the different regulations/norms on diversity and inclusion. The website diversity abroad offers resources to students from diverse economic, educational, social, and ethnic backgrounds.

Identities Abroad

It is very common for your own identities to shift during your time abroad. As these shifts occur, you have the opportunity to explore your own personal identity in the world and gain a more complex and nuanced understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

Take a look at the Social Identity Wheel . This is a tool to help you reflect on:

The various ways you identify socially,
How those identities become more visible or keenly felt at different times, and
How these identities impact the way others may perceive or treat you.

Attention from others

While abroad you may find that there is more openly expressed curiosity about you and your background. The host culture’s lack of familiarity with your background may manifest in both overt and subtle displays of prejudice and intolerance. Try to remember that these actions may stem more from a lack of experience with people of diverse backgrounds and identities, rather than from malice or ill will.

With that said, encountering increased attention, insensitivity, or outright discriminatory language and behavior in your host community can be disconcerting and disappointing. It can be frustrating to be told that such attitudes and behaviors are generally regarded as “acceptable” because they are “just part of the culture” or “we just don’t meet people like you very often”.

How to handle a negative experience

If a negative experience does occur, you should assert yourself and remain confident yet polite. In non-threatening situations, address the comment or concern calmly. Invite discussion. But if the situation turns violent, be sure to remove yourself from it. Talk to your program director, your teachers, your host family, and your friends about any discrimination that you might experience. They not only can serve as a critical support network and get you help if needed, but also help you better understand the situation and underlying issues.

We highly recommend that you do some research on the sociopolitical history, dominant belief systems, and cultural norms of your host community and that you talk to students who have studied abroad in the same location so you can better prepare yourself for the attitudes and behaviors you may encounter.

Research your host culture

Different identities will receive different types of attention while abroad. Here are some resources to help you do your own research into your host culture:

Diversity Abroad
Mobility International USA
Project for Learning Abroad, Training, and Outreach (PLATO)
Rainbow Special Interest Group