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Reflections from Diversity Abroad's 2021 Global Student Leadership Summit

 

The UCR Education Abroad office annually invites UCR and non-UCR graduate students to join our team and intern with us for one year, either for academic credit and/or professional development experience. We have been fortunate to have some amazing talent contribute to our mission of marketing international opportunities and helping to diversify students that learn abroad.

 

Part of the graduate student intern experience for 2021 included attending Diversity Abroad’s Global Student Leadership Summit, which happened November 10-12, 2021. The Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) is the premier leadership conference for students who are interested in further developing skills related to global diversity, equity, and inclusion.

 

Our interns this year, Gabriella Carrion and Imagen Soto, took advantage of this unique opportunity to engage with practitioners in the international education field with a lens on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Here’s what they had to say…

 

photo of Gabriella Carrion, a UCR student with dark curly hair, smiling at the camera
Gabriella Carrion

This past month I was able to participate in the Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) hosted by Diversity Abroad and I was pleasantly surprised at how connected and engaged I felt despite the conference being virtual. The summit included guest speaker-led sessions, workshops, and small group POD discussions with other students. I enjoyed the small group discussions because I was able to meet with other students who were interested in study abroad and international education in different ways. I was also able to connect with them through LinkedIn and it will be interesting to see where all of us will be in 5 years. There were a few different guest speaker-led sessions to choose from but I chose to attend the presentations titled: Identifying Impactful Opportunities to Create a More Equitable World; Critical Conversations on Personal Identity & Leadership Development in Global Education; and Living in Intersectionality: Navigating Multiple Minoritized Identities in Higher Education. 

 

These sessions helped me to feel empowered in my abilities and enabled me to use my current knowledge and skills as they are, which was helpful for me as I often underestimate myself. I also struggled with understanding how I could make any difference in the world but the speakers taught me how I can advocate for others even on a micro-scale such as just initiating and participating in important conversations. GSLS also helped with developing my networking skills and provided us with the opportunity to talk with professionals in the field of International Education. The professionals I talked with emphasized the importance of networking in the field as a way for collaboration but also as a way to discover new job opportunities. 

 

In the session led by Elisabet Raquel García, Elisabet told a story about how she recognized that undocumented students on her campus were interested in studying abroad but were unsure how to do so, and neither the study abroad office nor the undocumented students’ office knew how to help them either. After listening to this story, it made me curious about what extra steps undocumented students need to take in order for them to be able to study abroad, and how offices can collaborate together. Thankfully I was able to sit in on an information session about the process at UCR. I found that at UCR, the Education Abroad office, the Undocumented Student Programs office & the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center already have a plan on how to assist undocumented students in studying abroad. It was enlightening to see how these extra steps can be barriers for students to studying abroad due to extra costs and involvement of government authorities. Thankfully, UCR students have access to wonderful staff that are knowledgeable on how to help and have grants available to cover some of the extra costs, but other colleges and universities may not have yet developed a process for undocumented students yet. As I move on in my professional career, it is my goal to ensure that all students have access to important information that can assist them in going abroad. 

Overall, the Global Student Leadership Summit was a great experience and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend. I was not expecting to have learned as much as I did, but every session I attended was thought provoking and engaging. I would definitely recommend attending this summit to any student who has studied abroad, plans to study abroad, or is interested in an international career. 

   
Photo of Imagen Soto Carbajal, a UCR student with dark hair who is smiling at the camera and standing by a railing near the ocean
Imagen Soto

Global Student Leadership Summit Review 

1. What surprised you at the summit, and why?

Many times, we think that those that are successful paved their way seamlessly because we are taught to clean our story up to be concise and as clean as possible when presenting ourselves to someone, but what I found most surprising was that every speaker that presented at the summit showed just how much of a journey finding one's passion and oneself can be, especially when coming from very different and challenging circumstances. I found this to be a very honest and refreshing perspective and I feel that it was eye-opening to see.

 

2. What was the most important thing(s) you learned at the summit? Why?

I attended a workshop about Inclusivity and diversity, and I feel that I learned so much about learning how to set and respect boundaries within a professional setting and I think that that was a great learning experience because it is a soft skill that will be crucial in a diverse workplace. If we don’t learn how to set boundaries for ourselves and others in the workplace it can be very easy to facilitate or participate behaviors that make others uncomfortable. I feel that this is something that more workplaces need to include but it does start with the individual. 

 

3. What do you want to learn more about, and why?

I would like to learn more about how to be able to address inequality or remarks in the workplace to ensure that I am practicing and preventing from addressing someone incorrectly but can also be an advocate for those who feel displaced or underrepresented in the workplace. 

 

4. What can/should you do with what you learned from the summit?

The most important thing I can do with what I learned from the summit is to learn to apply it in my daily interactions with individuals. The breakout sessions that we had during the different sessions really helped me to become very comfortable in starting conversations with people from different backgrounds and places from all over the world. We can really learn from others if we keep an open mind, and we are mindful of different cultures and perspectives. I feel that anyone that has an opportunity to attend a summit like this should not pass up the opportunity because it is a great experience and there is always something new that you can learn to make you a better individual in the workplace and among individuals. With a globalized economy it is crucial that we are mindful of our interactions with individuals and that we continue to learn and grow from our experiences with others. 

We thank our interns for all of their help during the Fall 2021 quarter! 

- The Education Abroad team

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