The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs strives to reflect the diversity of U.S. society and societies abroad in all programs. NSLI-Y seeks and encourages the involvement of people from traditionally underrepresented audiences. Opportunities are open to people regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. American Councils for International Education, the lead organization in administration and implementation in NSLI-Y, believes that international education should be accessible for all and that cultural and demographic diversity enriches and strengthens our world. NSLI-Y is committed to fairness, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
Here are some helpful resources related to diverse identities in study abroad:
• Diversity Abroad offers a wealth of information on diversity and inclusion issues abroad
• U.S. Department of State provides information about challenges when traveling abroad for LGBTQI travelers
• Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is a resource center for disability-related questions regarding study abroad
NSLI-Y alumni share their experiences navigating identity while on program in the following resources:
• NSLI-Y Interactive has multimedia stories about student experiences on the NSLI-Y program. Use the search icon on the far right of the header to find stories related to your interest. Some examples are:
- NSLI-Y Korean Alumna Advocates for BIPOC
- Bridging Cultures through Languages
- The Questioning of My Box Braids: Teaching Others Unexpectedly in Seoul
- A Summer in Turkey
- Being a Superhero Abroad
- Identity, Nationality, and Community in Morocco
- A Mistake Turned Life Lesson
- International Education Week Panel on Diversity and Inclusion
• Ask NSLI-Y Alumni on Facebook – Join the Ask NSLI-Y Alumni Facebook group to connect with fellow applicants and NSLI-Y alumni.
• Alumni Mentorship Program
- The NSLI-Y Alumni Association organized the Virtual Applicant Mentorship Program which pairs NSLI-Y applicants with alumni who can provide guidance during the application process and beyond. Mentors and mentees engage in constructive dialogue on topics related to study abroad and educational and career paths related to language learning. The program matches students based on target language, shared identities, and academic interests. Learn more and apply here.
Below are ways NSLI-Y is working to better support diversity throughout the program:
• NSLI-Y has partnered with youth-serving organizations and Alumni Representatives to help recruit, nominate, and support students who are traditionally underrepresented in study abroad. Key findings on American students studying abroad can be found in the Open Doors 2022 Report.
• NSLI-Y screeners and evaluators receive comprehensive trainings that include mitigating bias in the selection process.
• Personal identifying information, statistical, and medical information are not reviewed or considered during the selection process.
• NSLI-Y has a history of successfully supporting students with unique health needs and disabilities.
• NSLI-Y reviews and updates program policies and procedures periodically to reflect the latest best practices in supporting diversity and inclusion.
• U.S. Department of State, American Councils, and all NSLI-Y implementing organizations staff have participated in a variety of trainings, particularly with Diversity Abroad, on topics like supporting a diverse student body, mitigating microaggressions, positive group dynamics, allyship, and inclusive programming.
• Each year, NSLI-Y implementing organizations gather to discuss a variety of program issues and build program cohesion. Training sessions include topics related to supporting a diverse student body.
• Pending funding availability, American Councils offers financial assistance to eligible NSLI-Y finalists through its Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to support the incidental costs of studying abroad not covered by the NSLI-Y scholarship, such as applying for a passport.
• Need-based financial assistance for internet and technology access is available for participation in virtual NSLI-Y programs.
Our work with diversity and inclusion is an ongoing and evolving process. We are continuing to evaluate areas for improvement and invite NSLI-Y students, parents/guardians, and alumni to share input and/or be a part of outreach and engagement initiatives by emailing [email protected].