Abroad With Disabilities: Blind Student Working to Help Others Study Abroad

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ALLENDALE, Mich., (March 4, 2014)– Many students dream of studying abroad. Grand Valley State University senior Juanita Lillie thinks every student should have the opportunity, despite any disabilities. The blind Spanish major traveled to Costa Rica last year to learn some language skills outside of the classroom.

“It’s great to experience it, and you learn a lot about yourself,” Lillie told FOX 17 News. “Fortunately, I had a wonderful program and wonderful peers and an amazing host family.”

Lillie is now working to make sure other students with disabilities have the resources to learn about more about studying abroad. With the encouragement of her professor, Dr. Natalie Gomez, Lillie has launched a Facebook page called Abroad with Disabilities.”

“The purpose of the resource is to give students a platform where other students who have gone abroad with disabilities to share their experiences and share any resources that they may have used when they went abroad,” explained Lillie. “There are a lot of people who have gone abroad with disabilities…A lot of people just need the support, and they need the resources, and they need advisors and professors to encourage them.”

Lillie credits family and friends for talking to her about studying abroad, since she couldn’t see the posters advertising different programs posted around campus. She said she would eventually like to see programs at colleges/universities that focus on recruiting disabled students for various study abroad opportunities.

The GVSU senior plans to head to a conference in Ann Arbor on March 19th to present the page and speak with study abroad advisors.

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