From Black Voices — Educators want more minority students to pursue opportunities to study overseas and enroll in traditional study abroad programs. Foreign study is seen as crucial to student development and even as a key to national security, yet minority participation badly lags behind their overall presence on college campuses.

“It’s really a matter of persuading young students of color that this is possible for them and this is necessary for them,” said Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president of the Institute of International Education. “You come back changed, more self-confident.” About 81 percent of study-abroad students are white, although whites represent 63 percent of enrollment in higher education, according to 2008-09 data released in November by the New York-based institute.

Blacks comprise 4.2 percent of study-abroad students but are 13.5 percent of the college population.Latinos are 6 percent of study-abroad participants but nearly 12 percent of higher ed students. Asian-Americans, representing 6.8 percent of college students, are slightly overrepresented in study abroad at 7.3 percent.

Barriers often include lack of funds, fear of racism, worries about delayed graduation, and few role models – either family or faculty – who have traveled abroad.

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