In March 2017, Georgetown’s Office of Global Education nominated SFS senior Tauri Tomlin to attend Diversity Abroad’s Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The GSLS is a conference focused on diversity and identity for study abroad returnees.
Tomlin, a senior STIA major in the SFS from Florida, studied abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan in the spring of 2016. While in Japan, she applied for a fellowship with the Diversity Abroad Network. Tomlin is a member of the Diversity Committee of the Student Board of Global Education (SBGE), and has been able to connect her work with both SBGE and Diversity Abroad to encourage greater access to study abroad for diverse students. She says she has connected with a lot of younger students on campus, especially fellow students in the Georgetown Scholarship Program. She has been able to provide these students with resources to help them in their financial decision-making related to study abroad.
At the GSLS, students attended workshops, panels, and information sessions in which they shared their experiences abroad with each other and education abroad professionals. Tomlin says that one of the most inspiring parts of the GSLS was that it allowed her to hear “other peoples' experiences with their identities based on race or gender in different countries.” Students also attended professional development workshops in which they learned how to articulate and leverage their international experience.
On the importance of promoting diversity in study abroad, Tomlin commented on the ways in which it impacts both personal and societal levels. Diverse student participation in study abroad programs “changes the narrative of who gets to travel”, she says. In her encounters in Asia, Tomlin notes that she was often told she was from Africa. “In Japan they were shocked that Black people are in America, and that non-blonde people are in America.”
Tomlin further reflected on the way in which diversity in study abroad can help break down international borders. “Being able to share individual experiences that aren’t exactly all exactly the same, from the same neighborhood, socioeconomic status, race, gender, can increase understanding between the US and other countries [...] and we can better mesh as a global community.”