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Gallaudet community members were offered a glimpse into the numerous possibilities that global learning offers at the Office of International Affairs’ (OIA) annual Go Global Fair (GGF), held November 8 in the University’s Jordan Student Academic Center. The GGF demonstrates that the personal enrichment an individual gains through a global learning experience goes far beyond academic knowledge: cultural immersion, new language skills, exposure to new perspectives, and the awareness of being a citizen of the world. 

Now in its sixth year, the GGF, which is typically held in November — the same month that the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of State recognize International Education Week to “celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide”  — has evolved into OIA’s showcase event. It attracts on-campus and international education organizations to offer information about available scholarships, fellowships, study abroad programs, internships, and jobs with an international component or focus.

The fair has proven to be an ideal venue for helping students find ways to make education abroad part of their academic program, and linking them with organizations — some very prestigious — that offer funding opportunities (e.g., Boren Awards, Critical Language Scholarship, Gilman Scholarship). The event benefits faculty as well, making them more aware of opportunities they can share with students and providing information about teaching opportunities such as the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program.

A conversation between five smiling people is happening at the table in the foreground of the image. Behind them are more tables, more people, and a blue balloon.
Students get information about World Endeavors and Kaya Responsible Travel’s volunteer and internship placements.

In the Multipurpose Room, GGF attendees chatted with representatives from 13 external education abroad organizations, and 11 on-campus programs that offer or support global learning opportunities. New to the fair this year were World Endeavors and Kaya Responsible Travel, which shared an exhibit table, and VoluntEars. According to their websites, World Endeavors provides international internship, study abroad, volunteer abroad, and customized group programs in over 42 countries around the world, with a focus on building meaningful connections between its participants and their host communities, and Kaya offers volunteer and internship placements in over 150 sustainable community development and environmental initiatives in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. VoluntEars, which provides opportunities to the Deaf community to volunteer abroad with access to sign language, is based in England, making it the first organization outside the U.S. to travel to the GGF.

Four smiling people pose for a photo in a line in front of the JSAC Multipurpose Room. From left to right, they are a man with facial hair wearing a blue plaid shirt over a maroon turtleneck, a woman in a brown and tan V-neck, a man in a navy blue polo, and a woman wearing a black suit jacket over a black shirt.
(From left): Darius Doe interviewed Ashley Harlicker, Jeffrey Levitt, and Erin Moriarity in the “Buff, Blue, and Beyond” panel discussion about international study experiences.

Other components of the fair were International Sign Language demonstrations in the Marketplace; and “Buff, Blue, and Beyond: Live Discussion” just outside the Multipurpose Room,  intended to encourage curiosity about the world beyond the U.S. Host Darrius Doe interviewed Erin Moriarty (Fulbright) and students Ashley Harlicker (Madrid, Spain program 2022) and Jeffrey Levitt (Siena, Italy program 2023) about their experiences abroad. 

A second panel discussion, “Communication, Language and Information Access for Deaf Persons: High Income and Low Income Countries,” was held in the G-Area by the International Development Master of Arts (IDMA) program to discuss the challenges with disparities in language and information access in different countries who are either labeled high income or low income. The goal was to demonstrate the ways in which various countries provide access to the deaf, and how deaf people learn to navigate the challenges.

Seven people stand at the front of a room. Audience members face them while sitting in folding chairs. Everyone's attention is currently focused on the woman at the far end of the row of seven who is wearing all black.
IDMA panelists (from left) Binta Badjie, Jose Rodrigo Uresti, Tina Tremblay, Latavia Roberts, Robert Todd, Eric Hidalgo, and Claire Coffey discuss disparities in communication, language, and information access in countries labeled high income or low income.

Panelists Binta Badjie, Claire Coffey, Eric Hidalgo, Latavia Roberts, Robert Todd, Tina Tremblay, and Jose Rodrigo Uresti presented country study cases aimed at dispelling misconceptions about Deaf development around the world. Unlike some other development sectors, Deaf development (i.e., Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-plus) cannot be characterized according to the country’s economic gross domestic product. For example, it is often assumed that Deaf people in high income countries (HIC) have wide access to bilingual education in a signed language, employment, and civic and political participation, and that Deaf people in low income countries (LIC) do not. In reality, Deaf development is quite variable, with LIC and middle income countries performing on par with or better than HIC on some Deaf development indicators.

Another new feature of this year’s GGF was a “passport” for students to take to external exhibitor tables, where they asked representatives questions such as, How can your programs work for students who are deaf, low-income, or first-generation college students? How do your programs help people understand the world better? Can you share stories about students who did well in your programs? and Do you offer financial aid for low-income students? Students in turn received stickers from the organization to enter in their passports. Those who visited at least seven organizations were eligible to enter a raffle to win a travel backpack, or a duffle bag donated by Patagonia clothing company. Fair organizers believe the passport/raffle activity encouraged students to become more engaged with the exhibitors than they did at past fairs. 

The GGF organizers, Fiona Grugan, manager of OIA’s Education Abroad and International Fellowships Program, and Tracy Dunlap, Education Abroad Advisor, agree that the fair offers a unique venue for external study abroad agencies to connect with the Gallaudet community, as well as the greater Washington, D.C. Deaf community. “I spoke with some of the exhibitors, and they were very enthusiastic about the conversations they had,” said Grugan, and many commented on how engaged the students were. She added that the GGF is far more than an event to get information about study abroad and internship opportunities. “The fair is more of an international learning experience, a place to learn about the world and the deaf community abroad, and the global experiences of other deaf people.”

Dunlap said the 2023 fair and affiliated events drew close to 500 attendees, far exceeding the numbers of previous years. What’s more, promotion for the fair led to a large bump in the number of OIA’s social media followers, particularly in the U.S. and in the 25-34 age range. The popularity of the 2023 GGF may lead the organizers to seek a larger venue, such as the University Field House gym, to allow for more exhibitors and to hold all of the GGF activities in a central location.

Note: Hosting a large event of this kind requires a great deal of coordination. OIA is grateful to Gallaudet Interpreting Service (GIS) interpreters Nancy DeWitt and Diana Markel, who coordinated the 31 interpreters, mostly from GIS, who played an essential role in the success of this year’s GGF. Additional thanks go to the seven student ambassadors from the Maguire Welcome Center for welcoming the exhibitors and lending a hand with the preliminary preparations, and to MJ Jones’ team of student interpreters. 

Seven people smile and pose in a line in Market Place, beneath a row of flags representing the home countries of current Gallaudet students. Each one is demonstrating a different sign.
(From left) Jarvis Grindstaff International Student Success Coordinator in OIA’s International Student and Scholar Services is pictured with Gallaudet international students showing their country’s name sign (except Loko, who signs ‘America’): Phanita Maiphone – Laos, Francois Decaux – France, Leo Padonou Loko – Switzerland, Biruk Gizaw – Ethiopia, Marie Maslanova – Czech Republic, and Susanna Di Pietra – Italy.

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