Wry Exchange

Black Exchange Students in South America
12-20-07, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , , ,

 Most of the Outbound students from my program are white.   We don’t have many *black or Hispanic applicants.  I don’t think we’ve ever had Asian applicants.  I wish we attracted a more diverse group of kids, actually I wish we attracted more kids.  Our area used to send out as many as 75+ students annually.  Some years, we’re below 20 Outbounds.

*Black because that’s what the students are called in South America.  Not African, because they are from the states, and not American, because South Americans are Americans, too.

We have only had a few black students, and they’ve all gone to South America.   Their choice, we didn’t funnel them there.  I can’t comment on black outbounds to Europe or Asia.  Please leave comments if you have advice.  

We had a student who wanted to explore her African heritage.  We don’t exchange with Africa at all, and she wasn’t certain which country in Africa.  We suggested Brazil to her.  Brazil is a huge country with many ‘black pockets’ just as they have ‘German pockets.’  FES would have to do his reasearch to find an area with a rich black history if this was important.  Brazil is a multi-racial society, and there isn’t racial discrimination.  Every society has some type of discrimination, and theirs is class based.  We were able to place her in an area where she was very happy.     

Bolivia has a history of slavery.  I didn’t realize Bolivia had African slaves until my visit earlier this month.  The Spaniards brought slaves to work in the silver mines.   The descendants live in Bolivia, and black students would fit in.  They wouldn’t be discriminated against.  They may be stared at, just as a blonde or redhead is stared at-just someone different.

Chile is a mestizo society.  Black people are quite rare.  I have a black student in Chile this year.  People like to pet his arm, and pat his hair.   He is a novelty.   He’s also very understanding that they don’t mean anything, they’re just curious about him.  He’s having a great year.  He’s treated like a rock star or famous athlete.  People come up to him to talk and ask questions out of curiosity.  His Spanish is excellent from talking to so many people.  He’s a personable kid, and has made many friends because of his willingness to talk to strangers.  He’s a very good dancer-rare for a gringo!-and has no shortage of partners.  Someone taunted him with the n-word once, and his friends quickly stopped it.  He’s experienced no other discrimination problems.  His only problem is he can’t get away with anything!  He’s one of a handful of black people in a city of over 200,000.  Everyone knows him. 

South America is a good place for black gringos as long as the student (and her family) understands she’ll be called Negrita and described as La Negra, or he’ll be called  Negrito and described as El Negro all year.  Negrito is ‘little black’ and is a an affectionate, common diminutive.  The kids usually understand, probably from talking to the inbounds, but the parents bristle when we tell them.   South Americans call people nicknames, and some are physical based.   Gordito-little fatty, Gringa for someone who looks white, or Strawberry for someone with freckles.  We have South Americans annually with the nickname of Negrita, and tell the girls ‘You can’t use that nickname here.’  It’s a common name for someone with black hair or darker skin.   The words don’t have the same meaning or pronounciation in Spanish. 

If you are a black student, and think you want to be an exchange student, talk to people from different programs.  Feel free to contact me if you need any advice.

4 Comments so far
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Why do you think there aren’t any Asian outbounds?

Also, are there places you have to tell the black kids not to go to?

Comment by colorblindcupid

I don’t see many Asian students in my area. That’s part of the reason. I also suspect their parents probably think it’s a waste of a year that should be spent at college. We try to tell the parents to ask the college if they will defer the student for a year. Almost all schools in our area will defer acceptances, grants, loans, scholarships for a year. They LIKE students who were exchange students.
We’ve never told black kids not to go somewhere, but we do ask them if they mind being stared at, and treated as a novelty. We’ve ‘heard’ there are a few areas in Europe where racial discrimination would make life tough, but we rely on our contacts overseas to place our students in areas where they will be welcomed and supported.

Comment by Wry

well, im an exchange student from rotary.
my name is joshua gray, and im 18 years old. im from USA, now im in Chile in south america from the program named Rotary Youth Exchange Student.
they dont tellme what places i have to go.
i choose a country that im interested in. And i choose Chile. Its so funny beging a exchange student but i seen so much stuff i never seen in my country. And the express here is sooo amazing. i love chile so much ive been here for 4 months now. and everybody treat me = here in chile. They love black people here. Its not like in usa how poeple are againts black people and stuff like that. They people here are more open to you. And nice. Now theres some days that i am sad. becuase i do miss my family in the USA. Its hard living your family for 1 year and dont see them on the holidays. But this is the best thing i have ever done in my life. and if your think about beging a exchange student DO IT !!!!. this can change your life. and youll be able to see other things youll never see. The best program to exchange with is Rotary Exchange Student, becuase they will help you. and make things work out. i had been in the rotary for 2 years stright. becuase the 1 year i had a hard time, but i had fun beging with the other exchange students from different countrys at the over-nighters. and when it was time for me to leave that first year i had a problem a big problem, so then i had give up and said im done :(. but then Rotary said that i should hang in there for next year 2007. and i did we work things out and we work hard to get where i am now. if you can believe want you can do….. YOU WILL DO. i believe myself every single day. praying and saything that i can make it to south america. and i do. i was so proud of myslef with i got on the plane and said my goodbyes to my family. i just want to let you know that theres nothing different againts black perople and white people and asian people. in the rotary exchange student we are all =. and family. i love the rotary exchange student.
well im going know if you have more question ask me in my hotmail i have 2

msn 1:joshgray30@hotmail.com this one i dont talk but i check my mails in this one.

msn2: el_ricoafroameicano@hotmail.com this one i talk and dont check my mails.

my fotolog link: http://www.fotolog.com/afroamericano69
my myspace link: http://www.myspace.com/eljapaonnegro
chao y cuidate 🙂

Comment by Joshua Gray

and yes im black check my links to see pics 🙂

Comment by Joshua Gray

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