Overcoming Tragedy And Celebrating Life Again

In London, though, as a Frederick Douglass Fellow, I felt like an outsider. I was older than the other students. I was a father. I came from a single-family household. But I realized something profound in London. During a workshop, a videographer asked us, “Tell us a time when you had to face your privilege?”

The image of my friend, Sean, came to me. He was the motivating factor in my life. When my turn to speak arrived, I told the Fellows around me, “I lost a friend who never got to see his full potential. The biggest privilege I have is just being alive. My friend died when he was 18.”

I broke down in tears. That was one of the first moments that my friend’s murder hit me. I told the Fellows: “You all just need to appreciate just being here. Just having breath in your lungs.”

We were all crying together. We were all celebrating life together. In that moment, I realized something beautiful and profound: our common humanity.

Of the more than 330,000 U.S. students studying abroad, only 6.1 percent are African American and 10.1 percent are Latino. This is one in a series of articles by students of color who are breaking down barriers by studying abroad thanks to the Frederick Douglass Global Fellows program, which awards 10 full scholarships a year to students at Minority Serving Institutions. These students will periodically share their stories, hopefully inspiring others to apply. Join our social media campaign, #CIEEmpowered #MSInspirational #FrederickDouglassGlobalFellows that is celebrating these extraordinary students and thier experiences studying abroad. Please view and share Peire's video story at http://bit.ly/PeireWilson. This article originally appeared in The Westside Gazette.