This year, CYA is making a significant effort to focus on issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Study abroad is challenging for everybody, but it can bring extra difficulties for students from underrepresented or structurally disadvantaged groups. Greece, like all countries, has its own history when it comes to ethnic/racial/national diversity, gender equality, LGBTQI+ inclusion, religious diversity, and disability awareness and accommodation. Additionally, Study Abroad may be different for students who have economic need, are ESL students, or who are first-generation college students.
How can we make sure that all students at CYA are supported and included? How can we bring the CYA experience to more students from under-represented groups? How can CYA be better involved with the hard work on social justice that students in both the US and Greece are bringing to their educational institutions?
Through a multi-faceted plan of action, CYA aims to get better answers to those questions. The efforts started with our research project on the experiences of our recent alums and students on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) concerns, conducted this spring by CYA Anthropology professor Aimee Placas. CYAers were incredibly generous with their insights and experiences and, thanks to their input, changes are already underway.
One of the first implementations of this valuable research took place on the 28th of June: a workshop for all members of the CYA staff and administration, conducted by Aimee Placas. The workshop explained and analyzed DEI issues, focusing on the viewpoint of CYA alumni and students, with an overview of the critical discussions happening in the US on these topics.
The workshop was an interactive opportunity to learn, deconstruct and analyze important concepts like structural racism and implicit bias. Members of the CYA staff shared experiences and agreed on ways to move forward that appropriately address the issues discussed.
As CYA’s efforts continue, there is already a new orientation session taking place upon the first week of students’ arrival in Athens, aimed to inform students on Greece’s current situation regarding DEI issues and provide space for support and further conversation regarding those issues. More changes are underway starting fall of 2021!