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.