Welcome! The GEC welcomes and affirms students from all religious and spiritual backgrounds. We recognize that your religious identity (as well as identifying as atheist, agnostic, or non-practicing) can influence your global engagement journey – from program selection through your return to Elon. Around the world, religion and spiritual life play a significant role in shaping history, culture, and current events. Navigating faith and spiritual practice in a different culture can be complex, and student experiences are diverse. For some students, studying away provides an exciting opportunity to deepen their religious or spiritual beliefs – or – to explore a different religious context. For some students, they may face unanticipated emotions or experiences in navigating their religious identity in their host culture. Students from historically minoritized religious groups may be concerned about safety, religious freedom, or the ability to openly identify with their religious community in their host culture. We are here to support you. We welcome your questions and concerns about religion in your host culture.
The GEC has curated a list of resources as a starting point, with a particular emphasis on historically minoritized religious communities in the United States. We invite you to explore the resources below and contact us regarding further questions.
The GEC has several resources to assist students in identifying the global engagement program that is the best personal, academic and professional fit.
- Explore the religious and spirituality resources offered by the programs that you are considering.
- Research how your religious/spiritual identity or practices are perceived in the locations that you are exploring. Perspectives on religion and spiritual practices can be influenced by multiple factors, including history, current events, immigration, migration, and the media.
- Is there a history of bias against members who share your religious or spiritual background? Or conversely, a history of inclusion of members who share your religious or spiritual background?
- How are individuals who are atheist, agnostic or secular perceived?
- Learn about the experiences of local communities who share your religious or spiritual background within the cultures that you are exploring.
- If you have religious dietary restrictions, research to see if they can be accommodated on the programs that interest you. Please do not hesitate to ask a GEC advisor for assistance.
- Are you considering study away as an opportunity to connect with your religious heritage or deepen your spiritual practices? If yes, connect with global engagement alumni who have done this previously to learn more about their experiences.
- The Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project
- The Pluralism Project – Harvard University
- International Religious Freedom Report – U.S. State Department
Religious Centers, Directories and Resources
- Halal Restaurants and Stores
- International Humanist and Ethical Union
- Islamic Finder
- Jewish Virtual Library
- KAHAL: Your Jewish Home Abroad
- Kosher Without Borders – YouTube
- Muslims Abroad
- Muslim Internet Directory
- World Buddhist Directory
- Reflecting on Studying Abroad as a Muslim Student – Diversity Abroad
- Confessions of a Non-Practicing Catholic in a Super Catholic Country – The ISA Journal
- Being Jewish Abroad: Passover in Santiago – IES Abroad
- Feeding My Faith as a Global Citizen – Diversity Abroad
- Being Muslim in Spain – Diversity Abroad
- Feeling at Home as a Jew in Germany – IES Abroad
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 the 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:
- Other students who will study away during the same term who share your religious/spiritual identity
- Global engagement alumni
- Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life
- The Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society
- Elon faculty and staff
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, Encounters and Expressions of Religious Identity in a Global Context. Check out the pre-departure sequence to see when it is offered.
You may want to consider these questions as you prepare:
- What are the dominant and non-dominant religious and spiritual communities within my host culture?
- In addition to my religious identity, how might the different facets of my identities interact with my host culture?
- Will I have access to my religion’s place of worship or religious groups? If not, how will I adjust my spiritual practice while away?
- Will it be safe for me to wear religious symbols and/or clothing?
- Considering that I am away from my support network, how would I respond if I encounter harassment or other discriminatory behavior (for example, anti-Semitism or islamophobia) while away?
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 faith communities 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.
- Tap into your support network that you cultivated prior to departure – or – cultivate a new network while abroad.
- Engaging in conversations about your religious background or beliefs while away can be complex. 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 religious background or beliefs, 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.
- 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.
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
- The GEC has several resources on how students can integrate their study abroad experience into their lives at Elon.
- Consider becoming a Global Ambassador.
- Submit an article to Diversity Abroad.
- Consider applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The National and International Fellowships Office advises students who are interested in this program.
- If you have ideas on programming that the GEC can do, please let us know! Contact Allegra Laing, Associate Director for Global Diversity and Inclusion.
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.