“We’ve come a long way, but we still have a lot of work to do,” says Jewell Green Winn when discussing equality in diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity in the international education sector.
As Senior International Officer and Chief Diversity Officer at Tennessee State University, Winn is a champion for empowering the voices of members of historically underserved and marginalized populations.
Winn is also the current president of the AIEA. Ahead of the annual conference this month in DC, PIE news sat down with her to discuss her work and the state of JEDI’s efforts in this area in general. “So many organizations are talking about [JEDI]but if we are going to be when it comes down to it, it has to be at the core of everything we do.”
Winn talks about barriers to international experiences for black men. She expressed concern about the low percentage of black students studying abroad. “There is a big problem with the perception of black men in our industry. It’s across our universities, it’s across society, and it’s unfortunate.”
He states that this problem is not only prevalent on PWI campuses, rather that black students at HBCUs do not always believe that study abroad is “for them”.
“Some are trying to provide and be an anchor for their families. It is very difficult for them to think about taking the money, leaving the country and studying abroad.”
Winn says that because their needs are often more immediate, “they don’t get it [an international experience] might actually help them do even more for their families at some point in their lives”. He believes it takes a lot of intentionality around conversations to change that mindset.
“I think that’s where our biggest challenge is,” Winn notes.
“[Black athletes] the opportunity to study abroad is often scarce because they have to practice in the summer and off-season. So that eliminates a large portion of that population. Then you might have a group of black male engineering majors trying to get internships over the summer. So the pool starts to get smaller and smaller and smaller.”
Winn talked about other barriers for black men, including students who are also first-generation or socioeconomically disadvantaged. “Many do not see themselves studying abroad because it is so difficult for them to survive right here, on their land, at university or at home.”
Winn, an expert on minority engagement, talks about her own experiences interacting with black students. He warns that we cannot simply start discussing whether they want to study abroad.
Winn advises to first “meet them where they are, on their turf” and ask how they perceive the different dynamics of school life, family life and their professional aspirations.
“That’s where the student voice comes from. Just get into the space and actively listen.”
“Go to organizations on your campus. See when the Multicultural Center or the Black Cultural Center has a meeting. Take the president of that association to coffee and say, ‘Hey, I’m passionate about this, but I really don’t know how to approach it. What would be your suggestion on how to reach and engage your group?’
“You can’t just walk up to a group of black people and say, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you about studying abroad.’ That won’t work.’
Winn also suggests historically black Greek letter organizations on campus as a place to start. “That’s a great place to start listening to some of the conversations after you ask if it’s okay to attend because these are gatherings where black men gather on their own terms.”
“Ask them questions like: What do you think about traveling the world? What could stop you from traveling the world?”
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