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CIEE Study Abroad Alum Will Speak at 2016 IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad

We are pleased to announce that CIEE Study Abroad alum Hannah Smalley has been chosen to be a Generation Study Abroad Voice at the 2016 IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad taking place this weekend in Washington, D.C. Hannah studied abroad in Legon, Ghana through CIEE in 2011 and graduated from Tulane University in 2012 with a double major in international development and sociology and a minor in psychology. She currently lives in Washington, D.C. and works as the Coordinator for Women, Girls, and Population for the United Nations Foundation.

The Summit brings education leaders, government and business leaders, and journalists together to discuss how to make study abroad opportunities available for all, over the course of more than 30 sessions, 12 summit talks, 4 think tanks, and 5 learning labs. This interactive conference is designed to help attendees explore ideas for expanding study abroad participation, exchange best practices with a diverse group, and experiment with new actions to work towards the goal of doubling study abroad participation by 2020.

Hannah will be a panelist on the session “Mavericks with a Cause: Generation Z and Millennial Incentives for Study Abroad,” talking about her first-hand experience studying abroad and the academic and professional experiences these generations find valuable. As someone whose study abroad semester made a profound impact on her career trajectory, Hannah is excited to speak about the value of these types of experiences for future generations. And, she will be taking over our social media channels to tell us all about it!

First, though, we interviewed Hannah to learn more about her study experience:

If you could describe your study abroad experience in one word, what would it be?

Catalystic.

What made you interested in studying in Ghana?

It was really more the program that initially sparked my interest in Ghana rather than the country itself. The CIEE program had a development track that you could apply to, which provided an internship and international development classes; since I was an international development major, that was right up my alley. It really was the opportunity that I had been longing for, a program that I knew would guarantee the hands-on learning experience that I felt was the point of study abroad.

What did studying abroad offer for your education that was different compared to another semester at university?

My study abroad experience truly offered me more than I had ever anticipated; both in and out of the classroom, and the experience ultimately helped lead me to my career, which is working in the field of girls and women’s rights.

My most poignant and impactful moment studying abroad was while I was working on my internship, which was co-founding an eco-tourism non-profit. My two partners were one Ghanaian man and one American man. Initially, at least two of us would go to meetings together, which was fine. Then the American man had to go back to the U.S., and I started working more independently, as my other co-founder didn’t live full-time in Accra. One day I had a meeting with a man who worked at a television station, who we had met with before, to go over an upcoming project. I sat at his office for two hours before he finally came out to talk to me. However, as soon as he stepped out he asked where my partners were. I said I was on my own and he let me know that he would not be working with an American woman. He told me to come back with my co-workers then turned on his heel and left.

Needless to say, though I had seen gender inequity in the US, I had never experienced anything close to that before. The point of study abroad, at least for me, was to experience a culture completely different from my own, and in that I was very successful. That moment has stayed with me and will continue to drive me to work in the international gender space. I have always had the passion to work in this field, but my experiences abroad gave me a very real push to make it my career.

  • Follow Hannah’s Summit experience on social media – she’s taking over the CIEE Alumni Twitter & Instagram until Oct. 26!

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