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Latino Students: 10 Reasons to Study Abroad

By Dr. Gary Rhodes

September 05, 2008

Hispanic cultures have always had a major influence on shaping the United States, especially with increased immigration from Latin America in recent decades. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity to for you to showcase the great diversity that makes up the United States.

Here are 10 reasons why you should study abroad:

1. See the world and broaden your experience There are so many amazing things to experience around the world. Expand your knowledge of the world by actually being there, seeing it, touching it and experiencing it.

2. Gain a new perspective on your own country In 1949, James Baldwin, the renowned African-American writer, wrote in Notes of a Native Son," “From the vantage point of Europe, [the American student] discovers his own country.” Whatever country or continent you choose to visit, learning about your own country by living abroad remains extremely relevant today as we continue to further our understanding of other cultures.
3. Explore your heritage Getting in touch with your family’s heritage can be another strong motivation to study abroad. Many minority students report tremendous educational and personal benefits from exploring countries where their families have roots.

4. Improve your professional and financial potential International experience is a critical and impressive part of any résumé. Many Hispanic/Latino students who study abroad in Spanish-speaking countries find that they are able to build upon and improve their Spanish language skills.

5. Become a full-time learner While studying abroad, you will have the opportunity to truly become a full-time student. Weekend excursions to museums and cultural sites add to your academic and personal growth. You learn to interact with people who may not necessarily think or communicate like you.
6. Gain new insights and outlooks You will have the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures, and some of these people may even become lifelong friends.
7. Fight stereotypes by educating others Hispanic-American students may become frustrated when stereotypes from home follow them overseas. However, this is also a unique opportunity to educate others about who you are as an individual and as a group.
8. Dispel your own stereotypes In addition to serving as a cultural ambassador to dispel other’s misconceptions, studying abroad gives you a chance to break down some of your own stereotypes about other countries and peoples. If traveling to your family’s native country, you may be surprised to find that you don’t in fact know everything about your own culture!
9. Take control of your future During your time abroad, you will be exposed to countless experiences that may influence the rest of your life. Some students even end up changing their major or career path as a result of the new things they learn from being abroad.
10. See what influence these great Hispanic and Latino leaders have had A number of Hispanic- and Latino-Americans were strongly shaped by their international experiences, including:
  • <a href = “http://www.fastweb.com/content/college-scholarships”> Alberto R. Gonzales, former U.S. Attorney General and the first Hispanic to hold such high office in the U.S. government
  • <a href = “http://www.fastweb.com/content/college-scholarships”>Dr. Antonia Novello, the first Latin-American and first woman to be appointed to the post of surgeon general of the United States
  • <a href = “http://www.fastweb.com/content/college-scholarships”>Geraldo Rivera, journalist and veteran foreign correspondent
  • <a href = “http://www.fastweb.com/content/college-scholarships”> Gaddi H. Vasquez, first Hispanic director of the Peace Corps
  • Gary Rhodes, Ph.D., is director for Project for Learning Abroad, Training, and Outreach (PLATO) at the Center for Global Education at Loyola Marymount University.


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