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Cultivating and celebrating diversity has been one of our core values since the founding of IES Abroad in 1950. From being one of the first study abroad providers to partner with HBCUs in the 1960s to launching our Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA) in 2008, we’ve prioritized diversifying our field again and again.

To us, diversifying study abroad is more than a range of faces on a catalog.

It’s dreaming of a world where difference is celebrated. A world where people who look, think, act, feel, talk, move, believe, and love in many different ways join together in a shared understanding that our differences can be what unites us. That they are what make us stronger, kinder, better people. We are actively creating this world, one study abroad journey at a time.

Celebrating 10 Years of the IDEA Initiative

In 2018, we proudly mark the first 10 years of our IDEA Initiative: an innovative, sustained access and diversity effort that has inspired 10,000+ multifaceted students to study abroad and intern around the world. What we set in motion was rare in our field a decade ago. By answering our own call to action with intentionality, resources, and a willingness to walk a road less traveled, IES Abroad has ushered thousands of new stories of global education.

Join us in celebrating this milestone and a #worldofdifference as we share stories of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, members of the LGBTQ+ community, first generation college students, young adults with a history of overcoming diversity, and more. Have a story to tell? Share your study abroad journey with us.

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"I became increasingly aware of the lack of awareness, on a global scale, of black Americans or others of African descent beyond pop culture stereotypes. I took greater pride in my heritage and my desire to expand others' perceptions. My sense of American-ness also grew during that period."

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"Certainly, who we are, I think, shapes how each of us interprets and makes sense of any experience."

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"The chance to make the world my classroom and have a different perspective on the world is what mainly inspired me to take a leap on building a foundation on an international education."

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"For once, in the classroom, I was surrounded by a room filled with individuals from diverse backgrounds - from all around the world."

Yesenia Ayala headshot

"Honestly, being abroad opens your horizons, challenges you to get out of your comfort zone, and makes you conscious of the importance of multicultural experience even as a person of color."

"It can be challenging to get out of your comfort zone, experience new cultures and worldviews and shift your own perspective of the world, society, and life in general, but it's all worth it."

"I definitely learned not to be afraid of the unknown, whether it be a country you ever been before or the direction your life might be going."

Christian Canizal headshot

"Traveling is exercise for the soul."

"There are so many incredible opportunities that will come, once you step outside of your comfort zone."

breana ross headshot

"It's inspired me to take my time, soak in more experiences, and travel more while I can and then go into the workforce."

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"One of the most crucial lessons I learned while abroad, was to let go of all of oneself to a completely new and foreign way of life, and that is something I could have never learned, had I not lived it for four months."

Samekh Harris Reed headshot

"I accomplished a dream of mine. All those essays, struggles for funding, all-nighters on homework to get my grades up, wishing and hoping to make it there safely, and I did it!"

Bruno Sacatucua headshot

"When you are traveling on vacation, its like you're saying 'hi' to a place, but studying abroad is like going beyond the small talk and getting to know someone."

Kiah Zellner-Smith headshot

"I think studying abroad, especially for students of marginalized identities, is critical. It's a reminder that the world is not only available for us to explore, but that we are active participants in shaping it, despite the limitations we may feel at home."

Jaagrit Randhawa headshot

"My experience with my host mom made me more willing to accept other lifestyles especially because I had to understand someone's values and ideals really intimately and be respectful of them."

Nneya Richards Headshot

"The experience ultimately became the beginning of a pattern for me, where travel is my antidote to the complacency of everyday life."

Terrence Christian headshot

"While you're abroad, there are varying mindsets, language, and daily routines that make it challenging, but I was ready for the challenge."

Build a World of Difference With Us

Representation matters. Many diverse students still question whether studying and interning abroad can be part of their narrative. When students see themselves reflected in others who have already traveled places they’ve only dreamed about, they’re more likely to realize what’s possible no matter their identity or circumstances. Your story could make a world of difference for them.

Use this form to share your story and help us celebrate a world of difference.