Vai Via is my blog to encourage and excite others (especially minorities) to seek out study abroad opportunities. This is a place where people can feel comfortable asking questions, sharing their experiences, and just learning about an industry they’ve probably never given a second thought to.

Here’s a little about the face behind Vai Via:

My name is Deidre and I graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 2008. I was fortunate to have studied abroad in the fall of my junior year in Milan, Italy for an entire semester. I’m going to preface this next sentence by acknowledging how cliché it sounds – but also remembering that most clichés are clichés because they are actually TRUE! So, studying abroad was by far one of the single-most positive life changing experiences of not only my undergraduate career, but also of my entire life (although I must admit I haven’t had an enormous amount of non-direct-parent-influenced “life” just yet). Most people don’t even have a world view, but studying abroad changed mine. It changed the way I interacted with people, the priorities that I thought were so important, the career I intend to pursue, even as little as the way I eat dinner (I mean, I did study abroad in Italy! Three-hour dinners are the norm here!), and of course my newfound penchant for wine.  More than anything it has made me want to see more of the world – and not just as a tourist. And if I can’t travel at the moment, I can live vicariously through those I encourage to study abroad.  It is the way my experience keeps on giving. Studying abroad opened my eyes to how drastically different people can view the world and I would love to see more of it.

I know, I know. You are probably wondering if I have anything negative to say about my experience.  While this isn’t necessarily negative, the only thing I would have changed about my experience is the amount of people in my study abroad program that looked like me.  Out of the 115 American students in our program, 3 of them looked like me. None of them were African-American males. This in no way lessened my personal enjoyment of the experience; it simply increased my desire to have others that look like me be able to experience it as well.  While there are debates going on in this country about closing the “achievement gap” why can’t we also close the “experience gap” or the “opportunity gap” or how about the “exposure gap.”  That is the sole reason I have embarked upon this blog, I have helped others through the study abroad application process, and have decided that a career in international education (focusing on minorities both at majority and HBCU institutions) is in my near future. You’ll learn much more about me as the blog grows, but I hope this helps you get a sense of where I’m coming from.


12 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Deidre,
    Great blog. I’m curious about your experience as an African American woman in Italy. Can you write a little about that?

    I’d love to feature one of your posts on Pink Pangea (www.PinkPangea.com), a travel site specifically geared towards women travelers. Submit a photo of yourself in Italy and write a post about your experiences. You might also want to provide some tips for other women travelers to Italy. We will be sure to link back to your site.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    • Hi Rachel! Thanks for checking out the site. I’d love to share a little about my experience for Pink Pangea. I’ll e-mail you as soon as I get something together. I’ll add a link to your site on my blogroll, too!

  2. Hi Deidre! I read the background for your blog and I think it’s soooo great! I spent last summer in Valencia, Spain Of the 8 people in my program only two of us were black and both female. I participated in the MHIRT Program, Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program. It stations undergraduate and graduate minority students in laboratories for summer research in various countries such as Spain, England, Ghana, and Tanzania. It is funded by the National Institutes of Health. I really enjoyed my time in Spain and am planning to spend Summer 2011 in Australia and traveling Eastern Asia. Just thought you could add the MHIRT program to your list!

    Krystle 🙂

    • Oooh that sounds awesome! And are you spending Summer 2011 in Australia on your own or with a program? Thanks for the blog love – I’ll definitely be profiling MHIRT (and you will have to send me some pics from when you were abroad!).

  3. Ciao Deidre!
    I absolutely related to your blog regarding your educational experience abroad. And, although I am just a white kid from NYC’s UWS, I went to study in Florence, Italy in my Junior spring semester and my whole world changed. My e’vperiences were similar with the cultural awakening, even for a street-smart city kid, boy did I wake up! Now fluent in Italian and an outright Italofile, believe it or not I ‘ve always wanted to organize a trip for inner-city youths to go and see all the magnificent places that I’ve seen. Well, if we can get funding together, contact me. I am the mktg. director for http://www.letstravelradio.com. Tanti auguri!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hey!

      Definitely appreciate the bloglove! And I’m jealous that you maintained your fluency – how exactly did you manage to do that??? I still like to put “proficient” on my resume but I don’t even think I’m that good anymore lol.

      We should chat about the trips though! I’ll e-mail you.

  4. Hi Deidre!

    First, let me say I love the fact that you are encouraging others to study abroad – especially minorities! That too is a passion of mine! I am passionate about international education and exchange and would love to connect with you. In the meantime, please visit my blog – http://www.atlasinherhand.com.

    I hope to hear from you soon!

  5. Deidre,

    Hi there. I just found your blog when I was searching for images from Amsterdam. I love your outlook and mission. Plus, you are a fantastic writer! I studied abroad in Russia in high school and can totally relate to how travel can change your life! I also spent 10 years in DC and just moved to Amsterdam, so you live in a city very close to my heart. I’m white and really enjoy reading your outlook on your experience in talking with ‘minorities’ here in Amsterdam, too. I’m actually moving to a different part of town in about a month in order to live in a more diverse neighborhood (having grown up in NY and lived in DC, I miss that multicultural feel). I’ll be sure to keep reading your blog! and will link to it as well. Good luck with what sounds like will be an awesome career!

    • Hey Chloe! Thanks so much for stopping by. Your message means so much to me! I absolutely loved Amsterdam when I visited and I’m sure I’ll be getting back there relatively soon. I’m not sure what part of town you live in or are moving to, but I remember it being a pretty multicultural place. Of course, I was only there for 5 days so what do I know?? =) Again, I appreciate the bloglove and please continue to stop by and give feedback!

  6. Pingback: On This Episode of “The Best Week Ever” « Vai Via Blog

  7. Your love for travel and encouraging minorities and people in general to broaden their horizons is fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

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