Underrepresented Groups-Study Abroad - Carnegie Mellon University

Underrepresented Groups

Many students of color studying abroad find that they are recognized first as Americans, and then as people of color, and there are as many stereotypes and opinions of Americans as there are Americans. Students of color may find themselves looking like the majority for the first time in their lives while at the same time realizing they have little in common with the people of their host culture. Other students may feel at home for the first time. Whatever the case, students find that their identity changes while abroad. Being an American may become more or less important, and students may think about that aspect of their identity differently. This may also prove true for a student’s identity as an African American, Asian American, Latino/a or member of another minority group.

Unfortunately racism exists in every part of the world, and though it affects different groups of people depending on the country, it is the same all over the world—the oppression of one group by another. Students studying abroad in some countries will not face any racism, overt or otherwise during their time abroad. Others will witness blatant acts of racism. Most will see or experience a subtle form of racism or the perpetuation of a system of oppression, much like in the U.S. It is important to have a strategy to deal with racism abroad, much as students of color do in the U.S.


Students are encouraged to talk to the advisors in the Office of International Education if they have concerns about study abroad relating to race or ethnicity. OIE is committed to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to study abroad, and the staff is happy to assist students in finding a program. The study abroad program provider will also be a valuable resource for learning more about the host culture’s attitude toward people of different races and ethnicities.