There is a need for programs to help African American students understand international awareness, cultural diversity, and intercultural development in an increasingly global workplace. HBCU Travelers, a newly started 501©(3), is ready and has started tackling the problem with the focus of being dedicated to encouraging and funding educational and international travel experiences for students of Historical Black Colleges and Universities.
A targeted approach is needed to engage and fund HBCU students in educational and international experiences. The Institute of International Education 2015 Open Door Report unfortunately shows that in 2014/2015 only 5.6% of the 313,415 American students who studied abroad were African American. This percentage trails Asian or Pacific Islander at 8.1%, Hispanic or Latino(a) at 8.8% and White at 72.9%.
HBCU Travelers started because of the passion for travel of founder and president, Kendra (Kia) Young. It was after her international studies experience in Thailand that she began advocating for international travel amongst her peers.
“I want people to experience the world and explore all there is that traveling offers” stated Young.
With the brilliant minds of Austin Ogletree, Mariyah Pressley, Jeffron Smalls, and Brian Oulds, the group of North Carolina A&T alumni have created various opportunities for HBCU students to travel. “I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to travel if they want it. I have been blessed with many opportunists through traveling aboard,” stated Smalls in a very enthusiastic voice.
The first program launched in April 2016 with a partnership with uVolunteer. Tennessee State University student, Whitney Russell, won a free 3-week volunteer program and flight to Costa Rica. In February of 2017 a passport scholarship was created and this past June two HBCU students won $1,000.00 towards an international education program they would participate in for this fall semester.
The organization is now focusing on hosting webinars that will help make traveling for students much easier. The first will take place on November 15th targeting current high school/college students focusing on personal development for the increase of global workplaces/consumers. November 29th a webinar will be hosted to walk through the logistics of travel with the importance of passport, visa, and flight booking information. December 13th the discussion on “being black abroad” will take place. It will detail insight on navigating potential experiences that come with traveling for HBCU students, making the travel experience less intimidating when traveling to places that drought people of color.
You can help this organization by donating to it’s “Travel Forward” Campaign which kicked off November 1st lasting for two months. The campaign is aiming to spread awareness of its services and encourage donations to its scholarship fund. You can go checkout the website www.hbcutravelers.com to find out more on what the organization does and how you can make a difference in helping students of color experience traveling the world. You can keep up with the organization on Instagram as well @hbcutravelers