At 19 years old, Andrew Gordon, Founder & President of Diversity Abroad would take his first trip abroad on a two week trip through Europe. This experience would ultimately change his life and the lives of other young students of color venturing abroad.
What caused you to travel abroad for the first time?
My older brother was studying abroad in Spain and I went to go visit him.
What impact did this experience have on you?
This trip opened my eyes to the world. We had a chance to travel around, meet people not only from the countries themselves, but also other travelers. After spending time in Spain I told myself I wouldn't never be in the position where I didn't speak Spanish. This trip was the catalyst in me deciding to study abroad, which ultimately led me to start Diversity Abroad, a platform which connects talented diverse and underrepresented students and graduates to international education and career opportunities that will prepare them for leadership in an interconnected world.
How did this trip affect your sense of self or the world?
Yes, it helped me to look beyond where I was from - California - and appreciate that there is an entire world to explore and the more I challenged myself to explore and push the limits of my comfort zone the more I grew as a person.
This trip opened my eyes to the world...and the more I challenged myself to explore and push the limits of my comfort zone the more I grew as a person.
How do you feel your experience was different as person of color?
Unfortunately men of color are too often discussed in terms deficit or menace in US society. While no where is perfect, going abroad is a chance to get away from this narrative. As a Black male who does not know his ancestry, I always enjoy connecting with others from the African diaspora who do know their ancestry, are connected to it, and are open to teaching me about it. It's a feeling that's difficult to explain. More than anything travel is an opportunity to be an ambassador. Sure, folks can see what the media portrays people of color to be, but anytime you sit down, break bread with someone - or wine if that's your poison :) - , it's an opportunity to break down stereotypes and explore how much alike we all are.
What, if anything, would you change about your experience?
I would have done more research about the locations prior to visiting.
What advice would you give to the person you were before you took this journey?
Time will fly, enjoy the journey, don't be afraid of the hiccups and remember to keep better track of my passport!
Andrew Gordon is a social entrepreneur, CEO & Founder of Diversity Abroad. With a passion for student success, global engagement and social entrepreneurship, he founded Diversity Abroad in 2006 with a simple vision, that the next generation of young people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds are equipped with the skills, experiences, and networks to thrive in the 21st century interconnected world and globally diverse workforce.
As the chief national advocate for student success through equitable access to global education, Andrew speaks and writes extensively on such topics. He has consulted colleges & universities, companies, and government agencies on developing strategies for increasing participation among diverse students in global education and leveraging international programs to support student’s academic success, interpersonal growth and career readiness.
Andrew is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and proficient in French. He is a graduate of the University of San Francisco and has studied, worked and traveled to over 51 countries. www.diversityabroad.com
@diversityabroad (Twitter, IG, FB, LinkedIn)