Today’s blog post comes to us from Pacific University student & API alumni Kenzi Hasbun. She’s opening up on the raw, real subject of discrimination, judgement & diversity abroad.
Studying abroad opened my eyes in a way that I didn’t expect.
I lived in Grenoble, France for a semester and I found myself questioning preconceived notions about the people and the immigrants surrounding me. Not only did Grenoble house a diverse population of people because it is close to three countries’ borders and the Mediterranean Sea, it is also continuously accepting people as refugees. These people are not rich and have needs like we all do. Often times, they live in areas that are not taken care of and are very dirty. Theses areas are not properly equipped for the people to prosper in this new environment.
Although France is welcoming on the governmental front, people are not always welcoming on the personal and communal level.
I couldn’t help but compare it to the treatment of minorities in the states. I had noticed it prior to departing the United States but not quite as drastically like I did upon my return. Not only in the immigrant or refugee populations but it is also the resident populations that aren’t seen as white and aren’t “privileged enough” for the right to stand up to these drastic disparities. I won’t get into the nitty gritty because I don’t want France to be perceived as negative, but it’s the same things that happen on the streets all over the world. The way we treat people based on their perceived “race” can negatively impact the entire system around the world. The treatment that we show minority populations harms a greater amount of people than it helps and it’s not the way for prosperity.
By observing these parallels abroad, I came back more aware of the problems that plague so many around the world.
That got me thinking about the people on my campus which is in a very small town in a region that is not dominantly positive. For the most part, the students who participate in international experiences are often white, because – for many underrepresented students – study abroad is seen as only accessible to those who can afford it.
Fortunately, my campus values study abroad and the lessons that come out of it. However, I believe there is a disparity between the opportunities available and the reality for minorities.
My international experience has helped me discover my passion and path as an anthropologist in a deeper way. To begin, I want to dig into advocacy on campus and spread it further. Then, I want to focus on LGBTQ+ populations and minority women so that they are given the opportunities that others are because I identify with both these populations. In my future plans, I will continue to strive to work with advocacy programs around the world.