Diversity Global — a black-owned business — is revolutionizing study abroad
August 29, 2016 at 2:30 am
By now, you’ve probably heard the spiel — “You should study abroad! Take a chance! You’ll regret it if you don’t! It changed my life!” That’s the standard reaction most people who’ve studied abroad use to describe their experience. And although it all sounds great, for someone unfamiliar with the experience, it can be a bit overwhelming. But Diversity Global, a black-owned travel business, is ready to ease your fears. Study abroad is possible for YOU. Even if you have a tight budget, a fear of flying or self-doubt when it comes to independence and fending for yourself, you could be having the experience of your lifetime in a different country with these programs.
Diversity Global was founded by George Williams after he noticed an underrepresentation of minority (particularly black) students. Williams studied abroad in three countries when he was a student at Howard University. He gained vital skills that were transferrable to the job market, such as language skills, independence, feeling interconnected with the world and having cultural competence. But he also noticed that minority students were underrepresented for a number of reasons, including cost, fear of expanding horizons and not realizing the benefits of such programs.
“Many white students and employers see study abroad the way black students see internships: As a rite of passage and a means to gain desirable employment.,” Williams says.
Since his experiences with study abroad, Diversity Global has grown to be a one-of-a-kind business that hopes to bridge those gaps.
“Essentially what we’re trying to do is make study abroad accessible to all, in addition to having a positive impact on the communities in which we’re working, and by extension, our communities back home,” Williams says.
And the program really is taking on the traditional things that made study abroad so far-fetched for some. For starters, the price points for these trips are unheard of. A major factor that scares people away from fulfilling their study abroad dreams is high tuition. But for extremely competitive prices, you can visit one of the non-traditional locations Diversity Global hosts programs in — Brazil, South Africa, Cuba and Ecuador/Galapagos Islands.
“The idea of having programs that serve a need both here in the U.S. and the countries in which we’re operating is what motivates us,” says Lambda Green, Director of Recruitment, Outreach and Student Relations, “Keep in mind that the countries that we’re working with, in addition to being non-traditional destinations, are also developing countries that have immense needs, some of which can be fulfilled directly or indirectly through our programs. To tie that into our mission here at home, the students who can participate in those kinds of projects and have that experience return better equipped to be leaders in their respective communities and have a more seasoned perspective on the issues that we face here in the US.”
In South Africa, you’ll stay in Cape Town and work with political leaders, community representatives, NGOs and more for the Mandela Equity Conference. And although you’ll get to attend wine tasting and safaris, the program also makes sure that attendees are viewing the very real issues happening. The inequality in South Africa is real, partially because of the results of apartheid. And what other program would allow you to engage with and confront these important conversations?
The two programs in Brazil explore the regional culture while allowing students to dive right in to a local university such as the Federal University of Santa Catarina. And although there’s plenty of beauty to see and fun things to try, travelers also get to look at identity and race and how they relate in Brazil.
For anyone who cares deeply about sustainability and conservation, the program in the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador is for you. You’ll take classes in the most bio-diverse country in the world per square mile (Ecuador), and then visit the Galapagos Islands, home to so many creatures that are found nowhere else in the world.
And anyone looking to indulge in history will thrive in Diversity Global’s Cuba program. Now that the U.S. embargo was lifted, you’ve got a chance to see the current state of the Cuban economy, race relations and more amongst traditional Cuban culture.
What’s so special about all of these destinations is the purpose you’ll find while there. There are so many programs that allow you to explore new areas, but how many allow you to analyze the social and political landscapes at the same time? That’s what makes Diversity Global so different.
As a black-owned business, Diversity Global is able to focus on the black experience not only by providing the experience to black Americans, but also by looking at what it means to be black in the U.S. versus in countries such as Cuba or Brazil. There’s a nuanced look at racial identity that’s truly unique.
“Possibly the most important aspect of being a black-owned brand, though, is that we can hopefully serve as further proof that the sky truly is the limit in terms of what can be done with an entrepreneurial spirit and a healthy dose of altruism,” Williams says, “Hopefully, when people — and in particular young black people — look at our brand, they can be inspired to chase their dreams, no matter how ‘crazy’ they are.”
And although they’re already operating in five countries and looking to grow and send more students to those existing programs, they’re also working on starting a scholarship program for high-achieving, low-income students looking to study abroad. And they just launched Diversity Global Ventures, a more tourist-friendly version of their programs. So if you’re not a college student, you can still reap the benefits of an affordable, all-inclusive and culturally engaging trip.
So what’s holding you back? Apply today to gain these and many more incredible things from studying abroad. Contact Diversity Global through their website, email or Facebook, and talk to your financial advisor about what scholarships and grants you can get to cover your adventure.
*This post is sponsored by Diversity Global.