Negotiating one’s own personal identity in a foreign environment can be challenging. The degree to which individuals experience these challenges depends on a host of variables that span the personal, social, and cultural spheres.

Wesleyan’s Office of Study Abroad places the highest priority on inclusion. We are committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of their personal identity, reap the benefits of cross-cultural learning, and we are delighted by the success that students from diverse backgrounds have had over time. We are also mindful of the potential for harassment or discrimination to occur beyond our jurisdiction, and we especially aware that the impact of such an experience is conditioned by one's command of the target language and by the level of one’s familiarity with local customs, laws, and resources.

Our aim in addressing this issue here is to raise the consciousness of our entire community regarding this potential. We firmly believe that cases of harassment and discrimination affect the entire community, not just the individual, and that addressing this problem must be the responsibility of the cohort: at the study abroad site or on campus.

We would therefore like to offers some guidelines regarding cultural immersion that all students should keep in mind at all times but especially in cases of harassment or discrimination:

    • Call us, write to us. We care about you and will be eager to monitor your progress while abroad. Check in with us from time to time, via email or Skype.
    • Talk to your program staff. Your program staff abroad is the front line for all concerns, whether personal or academic. It is crucial that you stay in regular contact with them and seek their assistance when needed.
    • Build a strong cohort. Never underestimate the value of processing your experience abroad with your peers. Not only can they be supportive, they are often the source of unique and unanticipated insights.
    • Speak candidly. The most effective tool for combating discriminatory habits, either of mind or behavior, is to discuss them candidly, in an open forum and in private counseling. The Office of Study Abroad launches this discussion pre-departure and expects that such conversations will continue abroad.

We include below a series of web sites that may be of value to those planning to study abroad. We strongly urge you to prepare yourself, in terms of the challenges and rewards, by reading the relevant pages. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any specific questions or concerns.

Wesleyan Resources:

Specific Resources: 

On Being an Effective Ally: