Studying Abroad with Thandi Dinani

Dr. Thandi Dinani is a knowledgeable and fun lady that has a passion for traveling and helping others. She received her Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies at Biola University. She has lived on four continents and worked in service learning and study abroad on three. Dr. Dinani has consulted with many other Universities seeking to increase intercultural competence, global understanding, and student access to study abroad opportunities. Thandi enjoys traveling, learning about people and cultures, is always up for a good conversation over a great cup of coffee.

Get to know her and study abroad more below!

 

  Name: Thandi Dinani

  Birthplace: Munich, Germany

  Role in the Office of Study Abroad: Director of Study Abroad

 

  Ashley Harris: What does your job entail?

 Thandi Dinani: Managing the office staff, working with faculty to design and implement new faculty led programs, working with  academic departments to find academic programs for student majors, ensuring the health and safety of students and faculty while abroad, keeping the administration updated on any international concerns for our students, and assessing the safety of countries and cities and programs where our students study.

 

AH: What is your favorite part of the job and why?

TD: I love working with new faculty to find programs that will work for their students to study abroad. And I love hearing that our students have phenomenal experiences while abroad!

 

AH: What is Study Abroad? What does it mean to you?

TD: Study abroad is exactly that…. You get to study in a location that is outside the US! It allows our students to learn about our cultures, countries and the impact we have on other countries while allowing other countries and cultures to impact our students.

 

AH: What is one reason that students should consider studying abroad?

TD: There is only so much a person can learn in a classroom. When you read something in the classroom, you gain an aspect of understanding; when you discuss the content with others, the understanding deepens; but when you see, feel, smell, and taste the information, you forever remember the learning! Studying abroad brings your learning to life!

 

AH: What do you recommend for students anywhere who want to study abroad but are unsure of where to begin?

TD: If unsure where to begin, I encourage them to think about the subjects they are learning and areas of their study that talks about overseas locations… it can help find a location that will enhance someone’s academics. If they can’t find a location or program they want to study at, then I encourage them to find a core requirement that they can complete in a setting that is in a place where they never would have imagined visiting.  

AH: Parents often get nervous about their child going abroad. What can students do to convince them that it is a beneficial for their college experience and future?

TD: In these instances, students should choose a program that is in a fairly peaceful area with professors who the parents respect and trust. For the professors, its important for them to give strong information that allows parents to feel comfortable with their safety and emergency protocol. Some students also choose to do a domestic program (Hawaii, Pine Ridge, etc.) first, so that their parents get used to their students studying away…then they let them study abroad later in their Belmont career.

 

AH: How do you think a study abroad experience affects a student’s future and career?

TD: Students who study abroad learning to adaptable and flexible while traveling. They learn to see others’ perspectives and learn to compromise and also advocate for themselves when listening to others and explaining their needs. These skills prepare students to navigate work environments, relationships, and more upon graduation.

 

AH: Did you always know that you wanted to work in International Education?

TD: No! I studied elementary education during my college education!

 

AH: If you didn’t work in the Office of Study Abroad what would you want to be doing?

TD: I’d be working with a non-profit organization overseas. I’d definitely be overseas – I love cultures and traveling and seeing the world! If not, I’d still working in higher education – I also love working with college students and helping them discover their passions as they develop their gifts and skills.

 

AH: What advice would you give someone who wants to work in International Education?

TD: Get into an international education while still in college. Volunteer, be a peer ambassador, find a way to get a job in the office, start advising students in any capacity. All these skills prepare you to be a great study abroad advisor when you graduate.

 

AH: What is one place you want to travel to soon?

TD: I want to go to Italy! And India! And Poland – I really want to go to Auschwitz.

 

AH: What is the number one thing you have to have while traveling?

TD: My phone (on an international plan) and one credit card! I can work everything out that could go wrong with a phone and money! ;)

 

AH: What is your favorite thing about Nashville? Belmont?

TD: I love the size and variety that you find in our city! Down each road are amazing houses, and beautiful trees, and I find something new every time you drive! I love the creativity and diversity of our students at Belmont! I smile as I walk past students who are freely expressing their ideas and selves through dress, hair colors, and more!

AH: If you could travel around the world with 3 people, living or dead, who would you choose?

TD: Wow!!!! This is an intense question! I’d want to travel with Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus! They would each have different perspectives and yet… very similar perspectives! And if I could add two more… Nelson Mandela and Gandhi!

 

AH: In your opinion, what is one place that students don’t study abroad in enough?

TD: Africa and Asia! They are more intense areas to study, because the cultures are so different from the US, but when students learn to push themselves outside their comfort zones… they fall in love with both cultures!

If you are interested in studying abroad, do research on what your institution offers. Ask questions and go in with a location or area of study in mind. Know that there are many options available to you and that going abroad is not impossible. Check out Belmont's Office of Study Abroad website and go in during walk-in hours to talk with an advisor, no appointment necessary! 

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About The Author

Ashley Harris is currently a freshman at Belmont Univerity, hailing from Hampton Roads, Virginia. She is majoring in Publishing with a minor in English Writing. She hopes to end up working at a publishing house in NYC, publishing books for children and young adults. She has an affinity for the Christmas/Holiday season, punk rock music, and cool tattoos. You can find her in the nearest bookstore or petting the nearest dog. 

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