May 15, 2012
Going abroad can be a powerful, transformative experience, but what happens when we return home? If our goal is to “Travel with a Purpose,” how can we also return home with a purpose?
Thirty high school students with disabilities recently gathered at a workshop in Eugene, Oregon, to answer this question and others like it. All are FLEX or YES students sponsored by the U.S. Department of State from around the world, and all have disabilities. Each student had their own unique ideas on how they could make a positive impact on others with disabilities once they returned to their home countries. Here are a few of them:
1. Prepare presentations about our experiences for others with disabilities so that they are encouraged to apply for a high school exchange program to the U.S.
2. Educate others in our home countries about study abroad.
3. Have a flash mob to raise disability awareness.
4. Create new sporting events in our home countries for people with disabilities.
5. Partner with disability organizations to teach English to children with disabilities in our home countries.
All of these suggestions are great ideas for American students returning home, too. If you’ve traveled with a purpose, how can you bring your experience home and get more involved in your local community of people with disabilities?