In this episode of the Ripple Effects podcast, MIUSA speaks with Maritheresa Frain and Morgan Reiss from the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) about how third-party study abroad providers can offer great experiences to participants from diverse backgrounds, including those with disabilities.
Maritheresa spoke about how CIEE has been an inclusive organization since its inception 70+ years ago. "We want to ensure that all students from all countries have the opportunity to engage in intercultural learning experiences, so that's not just American students studying abroad, but also many international students that come to the United States on our high school or our work and travel or professional development programs. So I think it's kind of in our core. As a part of our DNA. We want to be inclusive," she said.
"Being able to support [students with disablities] has been integral to how we design our programs," said Maritheresa, who started working on issues of inclusivity when she began at CIEE 18 years ago in Seville, Spain. "CIEE's philosophy is that we include a line in our budget which makes sure whether we use the money or not that we are fiscally responsible and making sure that we plan for any particular cost that would have to be incurred to support a special needs student. So, for example, in Seville we have had several students in wheelchairs. We would make sure that they had Spanish buddies, special transportation for excursions, inclusive events to the degree of how we delivered or where we would go on our cultural excursions."
"[CIEE] is a yes we can type institution, and we don't look at what the challenges are, we look more at what the opportunities and possibilities are, and talk very clearly with students about what their experience would be on site if they have a special need to be accommodated."