API Community Letter

June 4, 2020
API Community

API is committed to providing enriching international experiences to its participants. We believe in the importance of promoting acceptance, dignity, and respect among people of all backgrounds.

API demonstrates its commitment to inclusiveness by providing affordable and accessible programs, offering individualized support, and conducting ongoing diversity education and training for all API staff.

No matter who you are or where you come from, API will support you during your journey abroad.

Please see below for a statement from API CEO and Founding Mama, Jennifer Attal Allen:

To the API Community, 

API is proud to be a global learning community, made up of individuals of many different races, cultures, and belief systems. This wide range of diversity makes us a better, kinder organization. We don’t tolerate prejudice and inequality in our own organization and are outraged by the persistent racism and brutality that has disproportionally affected black Americans. Tragically these issues are not new, but the time for us all to unite in support of real change is now.

When the Founding Mamas came together 23 years ago to form API, it was with the mission to help expose American students to different cultures, different languages, different political ideals, and different ways of life. We have seen the profound changes that international experiences have generated in our own lives and we remain committed to the importance of exposing younger generations to new lifestyles, belief systems, and viewpoints during these formative years to help foster respect and understanding. 

When preparing our students to go abroad we encourage them to be introspective and sensitive to cultural values and different ways of seeing the world. Our goal is to help students develop their cultural sensitivity and self-awareness while abroad, which in turn we hope will translate to a similar openness to seeing and respecting differences in the United States. We know that it often requires time away from our everyday lives (our respective “comfort zones”) to have our eyes opened, our beliefs refined, and our personal prejudices challenged.

According to the most recent Open Doors Report published by the Institute of International Education (IIE), 341,751 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit in 2017/18. Only 6.1% of those students were black/African American and just 4.4% identified as multiracial. On June 2, Andrew Gordon, founder and CEO of Diversity Abroad, challenged the field  to “assess the systems and structures that guide the field of international education that, if left unchecked, will contribute to the effects of systemic racism.” 

Just as our field has committed itself to focusing on healing and rebuilding after the wide scale impact of the global pandemic on international travel and education, here at API we recommit to examining our actions and anything that we might even unintentionally do to advance systemic racism. With that intention in mind, we commit to diversifying our study abroad population to more closely mirror the demographics of our culturally and racially diverse country.  As one example, API will double our long-standing Diversity Scholarship so that we can provide additional funding for students of color who plan to study abroad with API. We are also expanding our programming through our new APIConnect Platform, which increases access to global learning.

We are advocates for change. API’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity working group will continue to elevate the conversation at API and work toward encouraging all staff members to be proponents of “anti-racism”, to contribute to changing the dialogue in our country and to advocating for real and systemic change. We know that such change comes only through hard work, perseverance, and continually demanding more from leaders in positions of power. Though the United States has not fully lived up to the promise of equality before the law, I am inspired by the conversations, actions, and calls for change driven by our young people. 

Though times may be dark at the moment, I have hope for the future —because of our students. I see their passion, their ideas, their openness, their empathy, their sense of justice, and their demands for equality. I admire their refusal to take “no” for an answer when working to improve the lives of others.  As educators in the international space, we hope to develop students who can be empathetic listeners, who are committed to productive dialogue and creative problem solving, and who respectfully affirm and appreciate the identity of others. 

I know people can transform as a result of interactions with other cultures and with people of differing backgrounds. I witness it every day. Facilitating this transformation through exposure to new ideas, places, and cultures has always been, and will continue to be, the guiding tenet that drives our organization, now and for years to come.

Together in change and respect,


API regularly spotlights various diverse groups as a monthly feature on our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webpage. 


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