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Cuban Embassy

At 10:30 a.m. on Monday, July 20, the Cuban flag was raised outside of the newly official Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., for the first time in more than 50 years. The crowd erupted into applause and cheers of “iViva Cuba!”

Nearly ten hours later, I walked up to the embassy on my way home from the NAFSA office and was happy to see that the celebrations had not died down. A large crowd was still chanting, singing, drumming and dancing on the sidewalk. Colorful signs calling for the end of both the travel ban and trade embargo were still weaved through the posts of the fence in front of the embassy building. I was proud to personally witness such a historic moment.

The opening of the Cuban and American embassies on Monday is an important step forward toward fully normalizing relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba. As NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson said at the recent NAFSA conference in Boston, “Engagement, not isolation, is the best way to work toward human rights, prosperity, and security for all.”

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Could you use an elixir for disillusionment with the U.S. political system or the hand-wringing about the future of the United States? Listen to “Abdi and the Golden Ticket,” a story broadcasted on NPR’s “This American Life” about Abdi Nor, a Somali refugee living in Kenya who won the Diversity Visa (DV) program lottery.

The goal of the DV lottery, when it was created by Congress in 1990, was to diversify the immigrant population by allowing people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for one of 55,000 green cards available annually under the program. Unlike the vast majority of others who apply to live permanently in the United States, DV applicants aren’t required to have family already here or an employer sponsoring them.

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The Supreme Court delivered a victory to representative democracy today, ruling in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission that under the Constitution’s Elections Clause, an independent body, and not only a state legislature, has the power to create voting districts.

In 2000, the people of Arizona voted by referendum to create an independent redistricting commission to draw voting districts, taking the process away from the legislature and outside of the political pulls associated with redistricting efforts. The Arizona legislature sued to overturn the results of the referendum in order to regain its authority to draw voting districts.

Today’s decision ensures that independent commissions remain an option in the fight to eliminate partisan gerrymandering and begins to reverse the trend in which “representatives choose their voters instead of voters choosing their representatives.” For too long, the United States’ inability to address political gerrymandering has sullied our reputation as a standard bearer of democracy.

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By Carol Crsoby

When I review students’ résumés, I usually find action statements similar to these:

  • – Manage staff
  • – Attend weekly meetings
  • – Tutored students in algebra and calculus

You might say, “What is wrong with this?”

Well, if I am a recruiter and have over 300 résumés to sort through to hire one person, I am not interested in hiring just anyone. I want to hire the one person who will bring their best to the job, the person who will go above and beyond the job description, the person who will give me more than the other 299 applicants.

For this reason, you cannot be modest on your résumé. You need to think about what makes you better than anyone else who has ever held your previous job positions and sell it to me.

For those who struggle to do this on their own, use one of my favorite acronyms: WWYMS (What Would Your Mother Say).

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By Nicolle Merrill

We all know that networking is key to getting the things that we want—new jobs, new ideas, new partnerships. Yet when I ask students or colleagues about their networking efforts their answers fall somewhere between “networking is so awkward” and “OMG I hate it.”

Networking, at its simplest, is about conversations. Talking to strangers can feel awkward, no doubt, but your willingness to push through and engage strangers and actively listen can open the door to potential. And with a bit of preparation—a few opening lines and a dash of bravery—anyone can be a conversationalist. You never know where a conversation might lead. It may be a hint about an unadvertised job opening, or an invite to a coffee chat about your new idea. Conversations can lead to insightful career advice, or maybe even a fantastic travel tip.

So here are six ways to network at the NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference & Expo. Use the opening lines below to get those conversations started.

1. Find Your People
The key to good conversations is finding commonality with other people. The NAFSA conference is huge but it is extremely easy to find people with shared interests through the Knowledge Communities and Member Interest Groups. Look through the list before you get on-site. Find a meeting with your peers, show up, locate the host, and introduce yourself.

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By Clare O’Brien

If you have the opportunity to arrive in Boston before the NAFSA conference starts, there will be plenty of things for you to see and do over the Memorial Day weekend. Here are a few suggestions:

Visit the Massachusetts Military Heroes Garden of Flags. Come see an amazing display of 37,000 American flags on the Boston Common. Each flag represents one of the Massachusetts service members who have given their lives for their country, dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Attend the Memorial Day Parade in Cambridge. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Harvard Square as you line up to see the parade go by. The parade will start with a cannon salute at 9:30 a.m. on the Cambridge Common.

Remember our heroes as you listen to a free concert. Honor & Tribute, Boston’s second annual Memorial Day concert, will take place at Christopher Columbus Park from 7:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m., with performances by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Children’s Chorus.

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By Tiffany Harrison & Kayla Patterson

With over 200 million monthly Instagram users, 288 million Twitter users, and 347 million active LinkedIn accounts, it’s safe to say that social networking is here to stay.

As international educators, most of us are now aware (or we hope you are aware!) of how important tapping into these social media numbers is when it comes to marketing programs to students around the world. All you have to do is look at recent data to see that these numbers continue to grow. According to Expedia’s Future of Travel Study, 49 percent of millennials plan and book trips using their smartphones, while 40 percent are likely to share a travel experience on social media during a trip.

What about using social media to market yourself as a professional within international education? How do you create an online name for yourself, or enhance the digital footprint you’ve already established? What kind of skills should you be highlighting? What platforms are the most relevant? And, the biggest question of all: why does any of this even matter? Your students are the ones who are going abroad, and it’s them we should be focusing on, right? Not quite. In this day and age, it’s just as important to be thinking about your own social presence, for more reasons than one.

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By Mitch Gordon and Brooke Roberts

Nearly every established organization began as a new, innovative, and sometimes controversial concept. From the dawn of commercial air travel in the 1950s to the development of the Internet in the 1990s, a review of the New York Times archives from those periods will unearth more than a few skeptical editorials about the purpose, value, and role of the new startups of the time.

The world of international education is no different. AIFS may have celebrated their 50th anniversary as a leader in our field last year, but they were a small startup in the 1960s with big aspirations and a concept and mission that were relatively untested. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of the international internship. Providers like Global Experiences, CRCC Asia and EUSA were innovators in the internship arena. Today, we see nearly every major provider and university building an international internship program.

What’s next on the innovation horizon for the world of international education and study abroad? Below are a number of categories we feel are in need of innovation or where innovation is occurring.

Program Design and Structure
With more and more summer study abroad, faculty-led programs, service-learning experiences, J-term, Maymester, and other similar programs being offered, we’re certainly seeing an increase in shorter-term program options. How can innovation help ensure that students in shorter-term programs walk away with a deeper understanding of the academic topic as it relates to the host country without having experienced the deeper interactions that a longer-term program often provides? Leaders and innovators in our field are continuously evolving study abroad program designs.

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By Carol Crosby

At the NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference in Boston, MA, I will serve as a résumé reviewer in the Expo Hall. Below, I share my insights on planning for the conference experience, tips that were adapted from an article I published on LinkedIn.

Through the years, I have attended and worked at a number of national conferences. I have seen the good, the bad, and the horrible. Preparation and professionalism are the keys to a successful networking experience; thus, heading into a conference in jeans and flip flops, hoping to grab a few stress balls from the exhibit area and hang out around the food table will not work. You will not be able to network this way. Period.

Instead, consider these strategies ahead of your conference experience.
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By Melissa Vivian

Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best everyday? This is the first of many questions that Global Experiences staff asks program participants in order to get a better sense of what kind of internship placement will be the perfect match for them. Unfortunately, most individuals struggle to honestly answer “yes,” which reflects the dismal rate of engagement among U.S. workers. In fact, only 1 percent of employees in the United States report loving their jobs. Given that we spend more than 40 hours per week for more than 40 years of our lives at work, shouldn’t that number be higher? Surely, there must be a better way to approach career decisions that results in a more satisfying and sustainable work life.

In 2013, Global Experiences partnered with Gallup Education to offer the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to all interns, as well as our own staff members. According to numerous research studies, knowing and understanding your strengths enables you to focus on doing what makes you happy at work and in your personal life.

This makes sense, right? When you have work tasks that you are able to perform well, you feel proud and accomplished. No one likes to spend all day doing something they are bad at. For me, that would be math. Oh, and anything related to computers and routine office administration. Luckily, we have a finance director, an information technology guru, and an office manager! But understanding and using your strengths in your career is much more nuanced than simply matching skills and interests to positions. It takes much deeper self-reflection and an evaluation of what gives you a sense of “flow.”

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