Last week, we at AIFS Abroad released our first annual Plan of Action for Access, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.
This document provides the AIFS Community with information on our goals for the year ahead related to these areas. As this the inaugural version of this document, we wanted to provide some additional information and answers to common questions about the Plan of Action.
Why do you need a Plan of Action for Access, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity?
Over the past several years we have been changing a lot at AIFS Abroad. We’ve been engaging in important conversations about identity, power, and privilege. We have witnessed the continuing inequity and systemic racism in the U.S. and have been evaluating, as a staff, the ways in which we can have a positive influence on creating a more just world.
This document helps us to stay focused on making the greatest impact for participants on our programs. We have reviewed the study abroad experience and have broken it into six themes: Communications, Policies, Processes, Programs, Resources, and Staff & Training. Each theme has 3-4 corresponding goals for the year ahead. We decided upon these goals through surveys and continued conversations with the AIFS Community as well as evaluating best practices within the field of International Education. We recognize that there are additional actions that need to be taken, but we these as the most essential to tackle first. Future versions of this document will have updated action items as goals are achieved. We are committed to doing this work now and in the long term.
What are some of the goals?
Some of the goals that might be of particular interest to you as a participant:
- Part of the benefit of studying abroad is learning from and about people with backgrounds varied from your own. We are creating opportunities for discussions and reflection on social identities throughout the study abroad experience
- We are creating a discretionary fund to support students who need learning or mobility accommodations while on-site
- Financial planning is key for study abroad, so we are adding additional resources to our Student Resources site to make it easier for you to budget and plan for your journey
- We are working to add information to all our program location pages on accessibility accommodations available on-site as well as the cultural climate toward social identities. This will allow participants and their families to have access to this information 24/7 and will assist in making informed decisions on your study abroad location
- We know that insurance policy documents can be challenging to understand, so we are creating resources with more understandable language on CISI insurance coverage options and limitations for our website. These documents will be made available in English and Spanish so parents and family members who are not native English speakers will have access to the information as well
How will you provide updates?
We think transparency in doing this work is important, which is why we encourage you to visit the website, which will be updated quarterly, to track our progress. In addition, we will be posting updates and our personal commitment statements throughout the year on our Instagram and Twitter accounts using the #AIFSFocus hashtag and we hope you will follow us on this journey of becoming a more transparent, accessible, inclusive, diverse, and equitable organization.
What can I do to be involved?
Our overarching goal with this work is to create the best experience possible for all participants. Have any suggestions or feedback? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We plan to host a forum for students and their families later in the semester and will post details on our student webinars page.