This has been a tragic week in U.S. history. We are hurting as a people. Given the thoughtful, empathetic, and mission-driven nature of the type of people who come to work at IES Abroad, George Floyd’s murder and the systemic racism that continues to exist in the U.S. dating back over 400 years has been on all of our minds. For many of us living in or around Chicago—and in so many cities around the world—the ever-present sound of helicopters and sirens are an on-going reminder that in addition to coping with a global pandemic and the loss of jobs, racial injustice is all around us. Had deep-seeded hate not existed and inequities in access to education, housing, and capital been equally available to all, we would not be where we are today.
As an organization that has celebrated diversity since its humble beginnings, and even more intentionally over the last two decades, IES Abroad’s entire mission fosters a long-term antidote to racism: creating global leaders who are diverse and inclusive through study abroad. Every day we are actively working toward using study abroad as a catalyst for positive and peaceful change. For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of working at IES Abroad has been watching our mission unfold time and time again, and witnessing the transformation of students to be more embracing of difference, globally-minded, culturally-conscious, empathetic, and open to ambiguity. More than ever, we need our youth to be open-hearted and open-minded to all of the complex layers and nuances of any situation. This is especially critical today.
I know that what is happening around our country and the world right now is not about study abroad. It is about how we react, support, treat and listen to each other, no matter what our backgrounds or where we came from. These are the basic tenets that all of us must demonstrate with action.
This is an important time for us to support each other and to stand with the black and brown community in their call for justice. We are all having hard conversations and trying to find the right ways to support those we know and love—as well as the strangers we see suffering. As an organization, we will also continue to reflect on what this means for us, and how to further educate, train, and support staff members in our ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts. In the last year, we had already set into motion a number of internal diversity-related efforts such as global diversity training at our Centers, as well as revamping our recruiting practices and reimagining how we utilize our internal Diversity Committee.
Now more than ever, we are siding with humanity and standing shoulder to shoulder in our support of inclusion—something IES Abroad has always stood for and always will. We need to support equity and critical, necessary societal change.
Warmest wishes for a better future together as one,
Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Among our many diversity and inclusion efforts, IES Abroad has been educating HBCU students abroad since as far back as 1958. We are proud of the long legacy of partnership with HBCUs and the many hundreds of HBCU graduates among our alumni network. Read more about our commitment to diversity, our post on Standing Together in the Path to Progress, and this essay written by our AVP of Diversity & Recruiting, Gretchen Cook-Anderson, which was featured in Forum News.