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Studying Abroad Is Far More Than Filling Their Passports

Posted: 24th February 2020 09:30

On the heels of National Study Abroad Day, February 24, 2020, IES Abroad, a leading not-for-profit study abroad and internship organization, announced today that four U.S. college students have been recognized as part of its annual IES Abroad Global Citizen of the Year award. This award recognizes study abroad students going above and beyond to make a difference in the world. Now in its fourth year, this is the first student-focused, study abroad honor of its kind.

Students who studied on an IES Abroad or IES Internship program in 2019 submitted applications to be considered for the award. IES Abroad received inspiring submissions from its students across 25 U.S. colleges and universities. This year, one Global Citizen of the Year winner and three Finalists were selected.

Yazmin Baptiste (IES Abroad Rabat, Fall 2018, and IES Abroad Rome, Spring 2019), a senior at Lafayette College, has been selected as the 2019 IES Abroad Global Citizen of the Year. During her time in Rabat, Baptiste taught English to immigrant and refugee communities through the Foundation Orient-Occident. When she was in Rome, she engaged in volunteer work at Hands Off Cain, where she assisted the organization in their goal of ending the death penalty worldwide. She also conducted independent research on the negative impact that for-profit companies in Italy have on immigration.

The 2019 Global Citizen of the Year awardees include:

Global Citizen of the Year Winner:

Yazmin Baptiste | Rabat – Study in Rabat (Fall 2018) and Rome – Sociology & Religion (Spring 2019) | Lafayette College

Global Citizen of the Year Finalists:

Pheonix Pittman | IES Abroad Buenos Aires - Latin American Society & Culture, Fall 2019 | Spelman College

Sam Hochberger | IES Abroad Granada - Study in Granada, Fall 2019 | Macalester College

Sara Jacques | IES Abroad Santiago - Politics, Social Justice & Language, Spring 2019 | Penn State University

As the winner of the Global Citizen of the Year Award, Baptiste will receive a $1,000 cash prize and IES Abroad will provide a $500 donation to her charity of choice—No More Deaths (No Más Muertes). Each of the three finalists will each receive a $400 cash prize.

An international jury of IES Abroad employees reviewed the student applications, looking for contributions the students made that affected their local community while abroad; lessons they learned about themselves and the local community in which they lived; and plans to continue their impact once they returned home.

Amy Ruhter McMillan, Senior Associate Vice President of IES Abroad and founder of the Global Citizen of the Year Award, said: "Many of IES Abroad's students–93 percent of whom find employment within six months of graduation–prepare themselves for global leadership roles through their experiences abroad. The Global Citizen of the Year award highlights the extraordinary efforts of those individuals, and we are incredibly impressed and humbled by this year's applicants."

As part of their applications, student Finalists demonstrated meaningful contributions. Sam Hochberger dedicated time to providing assistance to the autism community and their families in Granada, Spain; Pheonix Pittman volunteered in Buenos Aires with Fundación Pilares-CONIN to provide childcare for new and expectant mothers while they attended nutritional lessons, and she encouraged other black students to study abroad through her blog and on social media; and Sara Jacques started the first recycling program at the IES Abroad Santiago Center.

Yazmin Baptiste's commitment and reflections on the importance of mutual learning experiences contributed to her winning the award. Baptiste said: "Volunteering is complicated. It can be good one day. It could be bad the next. It could be iffy in the middle. And I think having a strong sense of accountability for what you do in the world is important and to have patience with others and yourself to think through the ways that we can improve our future and to work through the challenges that we're facing today."

Now a senior anthropology and sociology major with a religious studies minor at Lafayette College, and determined to pursue her Masters abroad, Baptiste is building on her study abroad experiences, by organizing a tour on her campus to bring together narratives of how mental health is uniquely experienced on her campus. This concept stemmed from an "invisible tour" Baptiste took in Rome, where a group of African migrants gave an invisible tour and at each stop heard a narrative from a migrant who had an experience at each location. Baptiste notes that her invisible tour has piqued interest and started a dialogue throughout her campus.

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