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Education Abroad and the African American Experience: A Mixed Methods Analysis Open Access

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Education abroad at the post-secondary level instills transformative personal and cross-cultural growth for participants, including giving students an edge in college retention, completion, and career attainment after graduation (Farrugia & Sanger, 2017; Picard, Bernardino, & Ehigiator, 2009; Redden, 2010; Sweeney, 2013). Intercultural competency is cited as a major outcome of the education abroad experience (Cubillos & Ilvento, 2013; Deardorff, 2015; Dolby, 2007; Luo & Jamieson-Drake, 2015). Measures of intercultural competence have frequently been used to assess outcomes of education abroad (Deardorff, 2015; Terzuolo, 2016). However, African American and minority participants, who are growing in number in education abroad, are inherently equipped with intercultural competency from navigating a society founded on systemic racism as a minority and from having successfully gained access to and navigated higher education settings. Therefore, for these participants, it is worth further examining additional outcomes beyond the standard measures of intercultural competency. This is increasingly important as higher education is comprised of a more diverse student body and as education abroad seeks to diversify participation. This study examines the meaning making and experiences of African American participants of education abroad, the effects the abroad experiences have had on their identity, and life outcomes. Recurring themes of the findings in this study include reconceptualized self-identity, private racial regard, and sense of privilege.

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