Using Sharpe’s (2016) wake work theory, this paper highlights how one Black undocumented student used a study abroad experience to negotiate his dis/comfort and take up ontological space a liminal space. I argue that choosing to study abroad while risking uncertain access back in the United States is wake work. Escaping the wake, albeit short, was an intentional move to resist his liminal space, given his Blackness and immigration status. Findings reveal wake work occurred through (1) Movement: The beginning, (2) The escape, and (3) The return: Re-entering the wake.
Study abroad programs should assess how they are being inclusive in engaging undocumented students about these programs and identify successful practices and approaches to support those interested.
Universities should partner with schools and independent organizations that provide study abroad opportunities for undocumented students. For example, the California-Mexico Studies provides three academic programs for undocumented students 21 years and older to study abroad for 4 weeks in Mexico.
Because DACA is a renewable program under the Obama-era, no new students can apply for DACA which means more students entering higher education will be undocumented without DACA. As we enter a post DACA era, universities and study abroad programs will need to create and implement global learning programs and opportunities for undocumented students.
Scholars working with, and alongside undocumented students should use more asset-based theories and methodologies to highlight the experiences of Black undocumented students in higher education (see Santa-Ramirez, 2021, 2022; Shelton & Thompson, 2023).