“Report into study abroad students being radicalised”

Interesting. Hadn’t really thought much about this being an issue, but I can understand the concern. You would definitely want to be careful about your friends or acquaintances. If not because they’ll try to convert you, then simply that they might use an obvious traveler as an unwitting smuggler or transporter of goods. That’s always a problem (never carry something for someone you don’t know), but perhaps more so in countries currently involved in terrorist-like warfare. Students abroad are in a dangerous situation of being obviously naive, unfamiliar with local rules, and in a strange situation–it makes them vulnerable to being taken advantage of.**DB

“Report into study abroad students being radicalised”

by Sudarto Svarnabhumi via “University World News

A number of Asian governments – among them Indonesia and Malaysia – are concerned their citizens who study abroad in the Middle East could become exposed to Islamic State doctrine, or, due to the proximity of Turkey to Islamic State strongholds in Syria, could be recruited from Turkey.

Reports from Jakarta, Indonesia, suggest students returning home from the Middle East have been monitored by the Indonesian government for evidence of radicalisation.

However, a wide-ranging study of Indonesian students studying in Egypt and Turkey over the past five years has found the students are not being radicalised, even though many of them, particularly those studying in Egypt, are religious students.

The just-released report by the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Australia in collaboration with the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Jakarta, examined the effect of political unrest in Egypt and Turkey, and the rise of Islamic State – variously known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh – in Iraq and Syria on Indonesian students’ views on democracy, religion, political leadership and terrorism.

“Religion is only one criterion by which they [students] judge political events,” the report’s authors said.

“What came through in this study, in common with others [other studies], is that people are not radicalised, by and large, in the Middle East,” said Anthony Bubalo, deputy director of the Lowy Institute, launching the report in Sydney, Australia, on 15 April. “People tend to go to the institutions and study with Islamic scholars that reflect their existing outlooks in Indonesia. They are not suddenly exposed to extremist ideology.”

Students saw events in countries like Egypt – such as the overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 in what some called an ‘Islamist coup’ – as having “only limited relevance to the situation in their home country”, he said.

‘Firmly against IS’

Indonesia is particularly concerned about the threat from returning students, after major terrorist attacks by groups linked to al-Qaeda, notably the 2002 Bali bombing which killed over 200, including foreign tourists.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a shopping mall in Jakarta on 14 January that killed eight and injured two dozen.

From the research, and interviews with some 47 Indonesian students in Egypt – mainly at Al-Azhar University, an Islamic university in Cairo – and Turkey, “there was no sense at all that any of the Indonesian students would change the system they already have [in Indonesia] even though they were critical, in some cases, of the political system in Egypt”, said Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Jakarta.

The students interviewed were “very firmly against Islamic State”, she said, noting Indonesians known to have joined Islamic State had not come from universities and schools in the Middle East.

“Overwhelmingly the people that have joined [Islamic State] have come from Indonesia and not from studying abroad,” Jones said. . . .


China – Apple Problems

For Students Studying Abroad in China–Be Aware that both Apple and Google-Based products (i.e. almost all western phones other than Apple) often have significant issues working in China. It’s better to just count on not having access to those tools and renting a phone in China itself.**DB

“Apple’s iBooks, iTunes Movies mysteriously suspended in China; customers want refunds”

by Julie Makinen via “LA Times”


Chinese customers of Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBooks services are seeking refunds on their purchases amid reports that the features have been suspended at the behest of government authorities.

Apple has not issued any statement to customers in China about the status of the services, but many users report that they have been unable to connect to the movie service and iBooks since April 15.

A Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman said: “We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible,” but she would not elaborate on why the services were unavailable.

The Chinese government has not issued any statement on the matter. However, the New York Times, citing two anonymous sources, said the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television had ordered the services offline, though it was unclear why.

Apple’s App Store revenue has surged in China in the last year, overtaking Japan as the world’s No. 2 market for the service, according to App Annie.

Apple technical assistance and account service representatives, reached by phone in China, said they had received no official notice from the company that the services had been blocked or shut down. They offered to arrange refunds on purchased content. . . .


On Studying Abroad as a Person of Color: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

“On Studying Abroad as a Person of Color: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear”

by Thomas Noah via “Huffington Post


As I prepared to study abroad in Florence, Italy, in 2014, I planned for the semester-long trip by reading relevant travel literature and speaking with other students who had traveled overseas. I did all the research I could get my hands on, poured over student presentations, and I liked most of what I read and heard. But, as an African-American, I was taken aback when a few sources mentioned to me that Italy had a reputation for open racism being exhibited by some of its citizens. Florence, being in the north of the country, was not a good place to be black, several folks had noted.

The pre-travel reading I did was very helpful. However, one of the most valuable lessons I learned from actually making the trip is that much of what you hear before going abroad might not be accurate, and that you can gain the best insights about a country, by far, from actually being there. During my semester in Italy, I had no problems — and encountered what may have been the least amount of discrimination I’d ever experienced anywhere in my life.

After arriving there, I soon realized that Florence was one of the most diverse places I’ve ever been. In addition to the local Fiorentini and residents from other parts of Italy and Europe, there were Black-Italians, Afro-Italians, Indian and other Asian-Italians. This diversity allowed me to stand out as an individual and fit in as a member of the community at the same time.

From my perspective, Italy has two distinct black communities: Black-Italian (people who were born, raised and acculturated Italian) and Afro-Italian (individuals who had emigrated directly from Africa). The differences in these groups were significant to me because for once in my life I was seen as an outlier within a Black community.

I’m used to identifying with the Black community in the U.S., where ethnicities, while salient for individuals, are not always recognized by society. After learning the nuances of identity within the Black community in Italy, I expected to experience at least some discrimination based on my own African heritage — I was actually born in Liberia but grew up in the U.S. However, my American identity was perceived first and foremost.

The Africans in Italy could tell right away that I was different. I was identified as being American. This was a different feeling for me. For the first time, I felt my American identity could really shine.

Despite what some others may have experienced, I actually never once felt personally discriminated against during my semester in Italy. In fact, many people there embraced me — especially when I wore my Boston hat. Fun fact: Italians love Boston. My American identity and being from the Boston area both proved to be an advantage for me throughout my time in Italy.

After all, I wasn’t “African enough” in an obvious cultural way to pass as Afro-Italian and I definitely did not display enough of a European fashion sense to be considered Black-Italian. I was even seen as having lighter skin than Afro-Italians, while in the U.S. I am seen as having darker skin than most of my African-American friends. Being seen as American truly shaped my experience into a positive one — and this nuanced sense of identity allowed me to stand out while fitting in.

Since returning from Italy, I have shared my own experiences with others who are interested, and have encouraged other students of color to consider studying abroad. Last year, 40 percent of my college’s graduating senior class had studied abroad, and I feel other students should be part of this experience. I’m also trying to advocate for more African Americans to take part in overseas travel and study. . . . . .


Study Abroad: It’s Not All Black and White

“Study Abroad: It’s Not All Black and White”

by Jordyn Holman via “Huffington Post


It’s white.

Though an unprecedented amount of American students are choosing to study abroad today, the number of minority students involved in study abroad programs is not rising proportionately. According to a recent study by the Institute of International Education, minority students make up a small percentage of people who decide to study abroad. Black students only account for five percent of students studying abroad. It seems the opportunities study abroad offers has no boundaries, except possibly for the race of students who participate in it.

I first realized this during my spring break trip to Poros, Greece. My three girlfriends and I boarded the ferry from Athens that would take us to a small island for our day trip. We wondered why everyone kept looking at us. Granted, the four of us were headed to a lesser-known island during its off-season on a random Thursday morning. But we kept getting stares.

When we docked at the island and got settled, we soon realized that along with being almost the only tourists there we were clearly the only black people as well.

As we walked around the island, every local warmly welcomed us. At a family-owned restaurant the wife and husband owner were so hospitable and gave us pita bread and dessert on the house. A waiter in another restaurant directed us to the best bars in town. The man who owned the hotel we stayed in made dozens of arrangements for us.

Yet most of the people we encountered couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that four black girls from L.A. were in Greece. I let it go. I didn’t think too much about it. I headed back to London that next day where I’m studying abroad and continued my schoolwork.

When it comes to the demographics of those who study abroad, there is a lack of representation for minority students across the board. An Institute of International Education’s study states that minority students — which includes Asian, Latino and African American students — comprise 20 percent of U.S. students who study abroad. These demographics are not representative of most college campuses. For example, at the University of Southern California, U.S. minority students make up 35 percent of the student body.

Some experts are arguing that the already small percentage of minority students traveling abroad might be remaining stagnant because of economic factors. For example, in the past school year, 92 percent of black students received some form of financial aid from the government compared to 77 percent of White students. Due to the extra costs of traveling and sometimes increased costs of living conditions — particularly in the U.K.– it lessens the likelihood for students of color to afford traveling abroad.

Jillian Baker, an African American student at the University of Southern California, said she opted out of study abroad during her junior year because the study abroad cities were too expensive and they didn’t cater to her interests.

“I couldn’t afford the programs offered for my major, such as London and China,” she said. “I didn’t want to study abroad just to say I did so.” . . .


“Blind student helps others with disabilities study abroad”

“Blind student helps others with disabilities study abroad”

by Stephanie Brzezinski via “Lanthorn

Studying abroad is often encouraged at universities, but not to all students. Oftentimes, students with disabilities have a harder time organizing a trip abroad than their peers do. Juanita Lillie, a senior at Grand Valley State University who is legally blind, is working to change that.

After talking with friends and family, Lillie decided to travel to Costa Rica. The Spanish major spent the 2013 winter semester there earning credits and having fun. While studying abroad, she lived with a host family that she said is “like a second family to me.”

“As long as I told them what I needed, they would do anything,” Lillie said. “Everyone was willing to assist me. Everyone would help everyone.”

About a month ago, Lillie started researching study abroad opportunities for other students with disabilities. She found that there wasn’t a lot of information available on the topic so she decided to create her own site for students.

Lillie created the Facebook page “Abroad with Disabilities” to encourage more universities to have more inclusivity. The page can be found at www.facebook.com/DisabledStudentsAbroad.

She hopes the page will raise awareness at universities and increase recruitment, training and faculty advising for students with disabilities to study abroad.

“It is a platform to share experiences and resources,” Lillie said. “It allows students with disabilities to speak with other students with disabilities. The ultimate goal is to provide an open networking opportunity to students with disabilities despite the university they come to.”

She added that she hopes this project expands to other universities so that more students can access study abroad. She emphasized that it needs to be more diverse and inclusive of other disabilities, such as colorblindness and dyslexia.

Natalie Gomez, a GVSU Spanish professor and a friend of Lillie, also has a disability and traveled to Costa Rica. She met Lillie in their Spanish 410 class last fall and shared the idea to start researching study abroad for students with disabilities. The pair has been collaborating on the project since then.

“Our main goal is to create a network for student with disabilities interested in traveling abroad,” Gomez said. “This is an inclusive space where students can openly talk about their doubts, fears, experiences — anything pertaining to traveling abroad.”

The pair will be attending the  . . . .

“Multicultural Groups Step up Effort to Promote Study Abroad Programs”

“Multicultural Groups Step up Effort to Promote Study Abroad Programs”

by Robert Daniel Smith via “The GW Hatchet”

“When the University’s study abroad office and multicultural center pitch international education programs to minority students this year, the Black Student Union will take charge of the conversations.

Led by president Danica Brown, the Black Student Union will play a larger role than ever to encourage black, Hispanic and Asian students to participate in study abroad programs that have been historically mostly comprised of white students.

Brown, noticing a lack of student input in programming. . . . “

“New Efforts to Boost Minority Students Studying Abroad”

“New Efforts to Boost Minority Students Studying Abroad”

by Dana Sand via “USA Today”

“Kenya Casey studied abroad as an undergrad in 1997. As an African American, she noticed an under-representation of minority students on her trip.  Today, as associate director of the Center for International Programs Abroad (CIPA) at Emory University, she says the trend hasn’t changed.  The Institute of International Education’s Open Doors data shows that 78% of U.S. students who. . . . “

That wasn’t actually my experience. Actually more than half of the students on my study abroad trips were of non-Caucasian decent. In Korea, it was Korean-American students. In Japan, African-American/African International students. In China, students of Latino/Spanish/South American descent.  I’ll give you that probably half of the students in Japan and China were Caucasian, but I’m surprised at the numbers this Institute is quoting. Maybe that’s because a lot more Caucasian students go to Europe?  Still, it’s cool that scholarships are increasing!