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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

IUB to give free passports to students

IU offers students many opportunities to study abroad during their time here. Now these opportunities are more accessible to underrepresented, low-income or 
first-generation students.

The Council of International Exchange Education, in partnership with IU-Bloomington, will provide 250 free passports to eligible underrepresented, low-income and first-generation students.

The CIEE is a nonprofit organization that promotes international education and exchange. IU-Bloomington and the CIEE’s partnership is part of the CIEE’s Passport Caravan, an effort to sponsor 10,000 passports for students around the country.

The Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs helps give low-income, minority students the same opportunities. This includes its recent partnership with the CIEE.

“For more than 65 years, CIEE has helped thousands of people gain the knowledge and skills necessary to live and work in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world by offering study abroad and exchange opportunities,” said Martin McCrory, OVPDEMA associate vice president for academic support and diversity.

After learning about the CIEE in 2014, McCrory traveled to its national 

“Part of the conference was specifically centered on developing ways to get underrepresented minority, first generation and/or low-income students to become involved in overseas study,” McCrory said.

Then in January, the CIEE’s Executive Vice President David Fougere visited IU-Bloomington and discussed IU-Bloomington’s involvement in the Passport Caravan. In May, OVPDEMA was notified that it had been selected to take part in this program.

The CIEE is providing 150 free passports, while IU-Bloomington’s Office of the Provost is matching 100 passports, making IU-Bloomington one of the first universities to take part in the program.

“CIEE Passport Caravan kicked off with 200 passports at Jackson State University in February 2015,” McCrory said. “We are one of the first institutions to host the event and have one of the largest number of passport giveaways.”

McCrory said studying abroad has many benefits, including enhancing the students’ degrees, creating networks and bonds and ending stereotypes and prejudices.

“Many students also say the experience is transformative,” McCrory said. “They discover that the world is much larger and much different than they believed.”

Ochmaa Escue, OVPDEMA director of overseas study and scholarship program, said she has similar views toward studying abroad. She said the majority of students who receive funding through OVPDEMA’s program have no previous overseas travel experience.

Studying abroad is a life-changing investment for personal growth and intercultural development, Escue added.

“Study abroad programs enable many OVPDEMA students to step outside of their comfort zone, challenge themselves and help them grow to be more responsible, flexible, independent and culturally conscious, globally minded individuals,” Escue said.

Students wishing to participate in this program and have the chance to receive a free passport must be in one of OVPDEMA’s programs and meet certain requirements. Once these are met, they can then contact their OVPDEMA program directors to request nomination.

These OVPDEMA programs include the 21st Century Scholars Program, Groups Scholars Program, Hudson and Holland Scholars Program, Academic Support Center programs and the Faculty and Staff for Student Excellence mentoring programs.

Escue said many students who are part of these scholarship programs are given study abroad opportunities.

Kenya Thomas, a junior majoring in neuroscience, studied abroad in Chile during the summer. Thomas is a member of Hudson and Holland Scholars, 21st Century Scholars and Groups Scholars program.

“As a minority student, I am glad to have had the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and adapt to a very different environment,” Thomas said.

Similarly, Alana Sampson, a sophomore majoring in fashion design and a member of the Hudson and Holland Scholars program, traveled to the Dominican Republic this summer.

“I can honestly say that studying abroad has made me a better and more well-rounded individual because it also makes me appreciate the things I do have while being able to embrace the things I don’t,” Sampson said.

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