fanta awBy Fanta Aw

As I complete my first term as President and Chair of the Board of Directors, I wish to express my deep gratitude to all for your commitment to the association and the important work of international education. It has been an honor serving the association and together, through NAFSA, we have achieved a great deal over the past 2 years.

In 2014, NAFSA launched many new and important programs and increased efforts to complete long-range goals. Those include the “100,000 Strong in the Americas” initiative to expand educational exchange in the western hemisphere, continually advocating for commonsense immigration reform, and providing even more tools and programs aimed at growing campus internationalization.

As an association, NAFSA has a social responsibility to ensure that our programs and services and our campuses reflect an equitable, just, and inclusive agenda, and that underrepresented institutions and groups are included in all facets of our work if we are to achieve meaningful internationalization. In addition, we need to engage with parts of the world that have been significantly absent – Africa and South America – to ensure that marginalized voices are represented and reflected in our work.

We are making progress and need to stay the course.

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By William R. Holmes

It is with great pleasure that I write about Malcolm Gladwell who will be our Opening Plenary speaker at the 2015 NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo in Boston. A renowned journalist, author, speaker, and a recipient of the Order of Canada, Mr. Gladwell’s five books have each made the New York Times best sellers list.

What intrigues me most about Mr. Gladwell’s books is that they seem to speak so clearly to my own experiences, while causing me to reconsider the circumstances surrounding those experiences. While I have never met Mr. Gladwell, I feel a certain affinity with his perspectives. Perhaps it is because we are of a similar age and both grew up in the same region of Southern Ontario in Canada. We also share the fact that both of our fathers were professors at the University of Waterloo.

After my father gave me a copy of Mr. Gladwell’s second book, Blink, which I literally read in one sitting, I immediately rushed out to get a copy of The Tipping Point. Since then I have read each of Mr. Gladwell’s books as soon as they hit the bookshelves. What makes his writing so compelling is that he develops hypotheses to explain what appears at first to be everyday social and economic occurrences, but in reality are fascinating behavioral phenomena.

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By Elaine Meyer-Lee

I am delighted that NAFSA will feature Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman as the Closing Plenary speaker at the 2015 Annual Conference and Expo in Boston, Massachusetts, this May. Like many of us, I was inspired in 2011 when I first learned of Karman’s role in Yemen’s revolution and her longer history in nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding work.

In 2012, I became more personally connected to the struggle for human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. That year, Saint Mary’s College began hosting an annual U.S. State Department-funded Global Women’s Leadership Institute that included young women leaders from Arab countries in transition like Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, and Jordan.

These spirited and determined women taught my students, my colleagues, and me much about their frustrations, hopes, and plans, as we in-turn have also shared women’s progress and challenges in the U.S. with them. As part of the Institute, the participants create action plans to implement when they return home. For example, the Tunisian delegation in 2013 established a successful women’s mentoring program to counter the threat to women’s freedoms by extremist groups. Recently, the Jordanian delegation documented the serious problem of sexual harassment on public transportation, and created a viable business plan for a network of female cab drivers as one solution.

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#GivingTuesday, taking place this year on December 2, will once again focus on celebrating and promoting generosity.

Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, this global day of giving back was created to encourage charitable activities in support of nonprofit organizations.

This year, NAFSA is asking everyone to participate in #GivingTuesday by contributing in support of the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program.

This initiative empowers international educators working with underrepresented populations to expand internalization efforts on their campuses. Earlier this year, 27 fellow educators from tribal colleges; historically black colleges and universities; Hispanic-serving institutions; and community colleges and associates colleges attended the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo in San Diego as beneficiaries of the program.

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Internationalization is increasingly becoming a central tenet of university missions and successful institutions innovate unique solutions worthy of recognition. The NAFSA Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization is awarded each year to schools that set themselves apart with their efforts to increase international programming and offer global educational experiences to their students, faculty, and community. In 2014, NAFSA celebrated the 12th anniversary of the Simon Award, and in a panel held on Tuesday, November 18, in Washington, D.C., several presidents and chancellors discussed the ways in which their institutions rose above the rest to receive the award.

Ángel Cabrera is a former Fulbright scholar from Spain and the current president of George Mason University, a public university located in Fairfax, Virginia with more than 33,000 students. When asked about the internationalization successes that his university has seen, Cabrera said that his administration has placed emphasis on scaling up international education opportunities for a large number of students. “We had to make smart ways for students to study abroad,” he said. This has included many programs developed through the Global Problem Solving Consortium, an international partnership of eight universities that George Mason spearheaded.

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Julie FriendBy Julie Anne Friend

First, a disclaimer – I’m a lawyer, not a doctor, so the purpose of this blog post is not to provide medical advice, but to reference verifiable medical information and how it can be used to support your risk management strategies, as well as communication efforts, in managing a real or perceived health crisis.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever and I go way back. We first met in 1995 while I was a graduate student in Lusaka, Zambia. There was an outbreak of Ebola along our northern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire). Three hundred and fifteen people died in a village called Kikwit. It was big news, but I can’t really recall how. There were no cell phones, no Internet, and certainly no Twitter. E-mail existed, but access was sporadic and cumbersome. I think I learned everything I needed to know from CNN. I don’t remember being alarmed or afraid. I was right there – well, nearby – and I was not at all afraid.

That remained true for me even during the latest outbreak, which reached our shores but only in the most negligible way. And by negligible, I don’t mean to make light of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan or the transmission of the virus to four others, all of whom remain alive (the five others treated in the United States contracted the disease abroad, for a total of 10 cases). But compared to the tragedy playing out in West Africa – 5,165 dead with a fatality rate of 53-85 percent (depending on the source) – a more compassionate and less fearful reaction would’ve made more sense, particularly on campus.

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By Jesse Lutabingwa

I am extremely pleased that Ishmael Beah, a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist, will be one of the plenary speakers at the NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference & Expo in Boston. As a young boy, Beah survived a rebel attack during a civil war that killed his parents and two brothers. At the age of 13, he became a child soldier for the government army and fought for more than two years before being rescued by UNICEF.

The plight of children affected by these senseless wars was brought home to me in Tanzania. In 1996, I met a young Rwandan Tutsi refugee who escaped a massacre there in 1994. This boy, who at the time seemed to be between 13 and 14 years old, told a story of how he managed to survive by pretending to be dead by laying amidst bloodied dead family members and neighbors. This boy was psychologically and emotionally traumatized by what he had lived through and was experiencing nightmares at the time. As I listened to his story, I remember thinking to myself, how can this child be rehabilitated so that he can live a normal productive life without fear or the urge to take revenge. It was only later in my adult life that I came to realize that my childhood experience was different than that of many other children, like Beah, in other parts of the world.

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By Kavita Pandit

Recently, NAFSA announced that Shiza Shahid, co-founder and ambassador of the Malala Fund as a plenary speaker at the 2015 NAFSA Annual Conference in Boston. Ms. Shahid has been an outspoken advocate for the empowerment of girls through increased access to education ever since she was a young woman growing up in Pakistan.

The importance of the cause that Ms. Shahid is championing may seem self-evident to most of us living in the West. The realities of the lives of young girls in rural and impoverished regions of the world can be quite abstract – even to those like me who was born and raised in India but in an upper middle class, urban household. It was only because of an experience that I had many decades ago when I was in my early 20s that I realized, in an emotionally charged way, what the lives of many girls in these settings can be like.

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