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Welcome! We are excited that you have decided to pursue a global engagement experience. We recognize that your identity as an ALANAM student (in addition to other identities that you may hold) can influence your global engagement journey – from program selection through your return to Elon. We are here to support you and we welcome your questions and concerns.

The GEC has curated a list of resources as a starting point. We invite you to explore the resources below and contact us regarding further questions.

Choosing a Program

The GEC has several resources to assist students in identifying the global engagement program that is the best personal, academic and professional fit.

In addition to academic and financial planning for global engagement, you may want to consider these aspects as you research programs:

  • Ask about the experiences of ALANAM students on the programs you are researching.
  • Explore the resources for ALANAM students offered by the programs that you are considering.
  • Research how your racial or ethnic identity is perceived in the locations that you are considering. Perspectives on race and ethnicity can be influenced by multiple factors, including history, current events, immigration, migration, and media. Is there a history of bias against members who share your ethnicity? Or conversely, a history of inclusion of members who share your ethnicity? Feel free to contact the GEC advisors for more information.
  • Learn about the histories and experiences of local communities of color within the cultures that you are exploring. What are the current issues that these communities are facing?
  • Are you considering study away as an opportunity to explore your heritage or connect with your diasporic community? If yes, connect with global engagement alumni who have done this previously to learn more about their experiences.
  • Begin to think about how you may deal with stereotypes while away.

If you are interested in speaking with an ALANAM student who has previously participated in a specific program, please reach out to the GEC. We can assist in identifying a previous participant – or – connect you with others who may be able to speak to the experience.

Perspectives from ALANAM Sojourners Abroad

Preparing for Departure

Preparation begins as soon as you decide to pursue a global engagement experience. While preparation may not remove all challenges, it can equip you with knowledge and skills needed to navigate your term abroad.

Begin now to cultivate your network of support while you are away

The Elon community is here to support you during your global engagement experience. Your community of support can include:

Family, friends, and mentors can also serve as your community of support while you are away.

Each semester, the GEC offers a study abroad away forum for ALANAM students. Check out the pre-departure sequence to see when it is offered.

Your Identities and Global Engagement

The experiences of ALANAM students who participate in global engagement programs are diverse. As you speak with previous students, keep in mind that students who share the same race or ethnicity may have different experiences in the same location. Like racism, colorism is a global issue. Other identities, such as gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and nationality may impact one’s experience away.

Racial categories can also differ in countries outside of the U.S. For example, a fair-skinned Black identified student who studies in South Africa may be considered “Coloured” while a deeper-complexion Black identified student may be considered “African”.

For students who participate in study abroad, a common question that ALANAM students may be asked is, “Where are you really from?”  While this question may be surprising, frustrating, or offensive, keep in mind that individuals around the world may have a limited understanding of the histories and present-day realities of ALANAM communities within the U.S. ALANAM students from international backgrounds who study away may have added dimensions to consider when navigating their host culture.

Students may also find that they may be viewed as privileged or wealthy because they can study away (despite the fact that students may utilize scholarships or financial aid, or identify differently in the U.S.)

You may want to consider these questions as you prepare:

Preparing to Navigate Your Host Community

  • What are the dominant and non-dominant racial and ethnic groups within my host culture?
  • How might the different facets of my identities interact with my host culture?
  • How might stereotypes about what Americans look like create assumptions about my identity?

Self-Care While Away

In transparency, the field of global education does not amplify the wide expanse of ALANAM student experiences away. We encourage students to consider reading books or visiting travel websites dedicated to ALANAM communities, blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos created by ALANAM ex-pats (or local ALANAM communities) in your host culture.


Podcasts and Travel Websites

Heritage Seeking and Study Away

(Adapted from the Northwestern Global Learning Office, the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad and Diversity Abroad)

Students who choose to study in a location that has ancestral, familial or linguistic ties are called heritage seekers. Heritage seekers can also include individuals who study in a diasporic location – for example, a Black-identified student who studies in the Dominican Republic, even if the student may not have familial ties to the Caribbean. Diversity Abroad has prepared a list of tips for heritage seekers traveling abroad.

Studying away as a heritage seeker can be deeply personal and complex. For some students, heritage-seeking may fulfill a lifelong goal to reconnect or deepen their connection with their cultural roots.  It can be liberating to live in a country where one has cultural ties. For ALANAM students specifically, it may be the first time that they have been a member of a majority community and be able to see themselves reflected in multiple aspects of society.

The journey can also bring unexpected experiences.  Students may be viewed as more “American” versus a part of the local community (or students may discover their “Americanness” while abroad in a way that they have not experienced in the U.S.) On the other hand, a heritage seeker may encounter specific expectations (culturally, linguistically, or behaviorally) from local individuals due to the commonality of cultural background.  Despite the challenges, heritage-seeking can have a profound impact on a student’s identity.

As you prepare for your experience, you may want to consider these questions:

  • What are my goals for my heritage-seeking experience and how can I best prepare?
  • I may encounter differences between the customs that I was raised with versus the customs I experience while in my host culture. How can I reconcile these differences?
  • If a local individual has higher expectations of me compared to other students on the program who do not share my ethnic background, how can I respond?
  • How would I feel if other students in the program expected me to be an “expert” on the culture (even if I’m still learning as well)? How can I navigate this expectation while away?

Perspectives from Heritage Seekers in the African Diaspora

Perspectives from Heritage Seekers in Asia

Perspectives from Heritage Seekers in Latin America

While Abroad

Given the national percentages of study abroad participation among ALANAM students, you may be one of the few ALANAM students on your program. Statically, fewer ALANAM male students study abroad compared to ALANAM female students. You may encounter experiences that are challenging or distressing.

As you navigate these experiences while away, consider these strategies that may be helpful:

  • Reflect on the skills that you have utilized in navigating Elon’s campus. What skills are transferable? How can you draw on your previous experiences to assist you in thriving in this new environment?
  • Connect with local communities of color in your host culture. Engaging with these communities can provide a nurturing environment and offer insight on how to navigate your experience abroad. If you need assistance in seeking these groups, contact the on-site staff on your program.
  • It may be fulfilling to engage in conversations about your cultural background while abroad – however – if it becomes overwhelming, place boundaries on the conversations in which you engage. You are not required to educate individuals in your host country about your background, similar to the fact that you are not required to educate individuals in the U.S. about your background. Feel free to provide resources to curious individuals if discussing certain topics becomes exhausting.
  • Tap into your support network that you cultivated prior to departure – or – cultivate a new network while abroad.
  • Connect with the GEC or with a trusted Elon faculty or staff member. We can talk through any issues that you are experiencing and support you in developing a self-care strategy – or if necessary – walk you through submitting a bias report incident.


You may find that you have had a different global engagement experience compared to students who hold majority identities.  Please share any concerns that have arisen on your program with the GEC – we welcome hearing feedback on how this journey can be more inclusive. We encourage students to complete their return evaluations within their MyElonGlobal portals. Students can meet one-on-one with their global engagement program manager.

Opportunities for engagement


What Happens After? (VIDEO – We Represent March 2021 Virtual Conference, Panel Discussion)

This panel focuses on informing you about the numerous benefits post-grant that can help you by completing a Fulbright, Gilman, Critical Language Scholarship, or Boren Award. Panelists will discuss their experience finding a job, pursuing graduate programs, connecting with other alumni, professional development, etc.