WHAT ABOUT DISCRIMINATION?
Today, Hispanic students have many reasons to study around the
globe, but unfortunately no place is perfectly free of ignorance,
racism or discrimination. Just like at home in the U.S., you may
find various levels of acceptance by some people and discrimination
by others while abroad. Hispanic-American students should be
aware that these problems do exist in various degrees in other
countries, but this should not prevent you from traveling. There may
actually be opportunities for you to be a positive influence on
those you meet. You should feel free to travel to your places of
interest (unless there is a civil unrest that may affect your
safety. Please research your destination thoroughly before you
travel. You can start with the U.S. Department of State’s travel
http://www.state.gov/travel/). Many minority students have
entirely positive experiences when exploring their roots or
exploring another culture.
Hispanic students who have traveled
abroad often report that their experiences abroad differ greatly
from the experiences they have in
the United States. Although they
may encounter a few prolonged stares or what seem to be intrusive
questions, the countries where this is an issue for Hispanic
students are usually homogenous countries. The people they encounter
may have never seen a Hispanic person and may just be curious.
Living in another country can also be a liberating experience.
Hispanic study abroad returnees often report another interesting
experience: Many who travel to countries in Latin America are often
surprised that they are seen not as Hispanic- or Latino-Americans,
but simply as Americans. On the other hand, many people who do not
see you as a stereotypical American might not treat you differently,
allowing you to blend in more easily. In any case, studying abroad
can certainly give you rare and unique opportunities to examine
discrimination (or lack thereof) in different contexts. This may be
a great opportunity for you to be both a student and teacher of
cultural understanding our diverse world.