Clare O'BrienBy Clare O’Brien

Greetings from Boston, a city renowned for being the epicenter of American history and a preeminent higher education location where tens of thousands of international students choose to study. I look forward to sharing fun facts, must-sees, and must-eats in and around this vibrant and multifaceted city in the coming months as you prepare for your stay in Boston for the NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference & Expo.

Conference Location: Downtown Boston

You are certain to fall in love with Boston, whether you are a sports fanatic; enjoy art and theater; or just want the opportunity to walk and admire the history, beautiful architecture, and greenery.

The conference will take place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, located close to the waterfront and the famous Boston Harbor. You will find amazing restaurants, museums, and historical landmarks just a short walk from the convention center.

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2015 Student Mobility Forecast

With new tools providing greater understanding of the motives for student mobility and what drives students to seek out educational experiences abroad, international education professionals now have the unique opportunity to better anticipate where the next educational destination will be.

To help uncover what 2015 holds for the student travel market, NAFSA invited Atle Skalleberg, CEO of StudentUniverse, a technology company that empowers students and youth to travel, to share his company’s insight on what their data is telling them about trends to expect in the coming months.

What growth do you expect in the student travel market in 2015? What will be the largest driver fueling the growth?

Student travelers are critical stakeholders in the tourism industry and are sometimes overlooked as airlines focus on current business travelers. In reality, students make up 20 percent of all arrivals in the travel industry today. By 2020, more than 300 million student-related arrivals are expected, a number that will represent a quarter of total tourism. By the same time, 50 percent of all business travelers are expected to be millennials.

One of the key drivers fueling the growth of student travel is international specialty travel. Education travel leads the pack, and we see new markets coming online as well as continued growth from emerging markets such as China and Brazil. These students also travel a substantial amount within their destination country.

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By Ivor Emmanuel

Through my many connections with NAFSA colleagues spanning over 30 years, I have come to appreciate the deep sense of meaning and commitment that so many international education professionals have brought to our profession. Through countless hours they have given of themselves, not only on their campus, but also to the association and our field at large.

They have attended committee meetings, organized workshops, delivered presentations, held leadership posts, mentored colleagues, engaged in advocacy and the list goes on. I personally have benefited from some of our finest leaders through all that I have learned from them. They have shaped our association and the nature of our work. A few have already been honored for their contributions. Many still toil quietly in the background. Their recognition will come one day…or perhaps now it is time!

Do you know someone whom you admire in a similar way? Someone you may recognize as having shaped our profession at the local and national level. Perhaps they are a trusted mentor or a long-time colleague about to retire. Are there outstanding young professionals who are in the early trajectory of their careers and you see a bright future for them in the field of international education?

Take this opportunity to nominate them today for a NAFSA national award!

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Jodi SimekBy Jodi Simek

In October 2014, I participated in the prestigious Baden-Württemberg (BW) seminar in Germany, which has proven to be one of the most beneficial professional development experiences in my career.

For those unfamiliar with the Baden-Württemberg seminar, it is a weeklong training program sponsored by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research, and Arts in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. In cooperation with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and NAFSA, the ministry invites 15 international educators and registrars from throughout the United States to learn about the education system in Baden-Württemberg.

While at the BW seminar, our group visited a number of German universities where we discussed a wide variety of approaches to higher education with German advisers, directors, and coordinators. We were also able to meet both German and American students, visit facilities, and learn about the institutions. Each day we were escorted to our site visit by members of the international office at Heidelberg University to gain an understanding of how their international office is organized. For example, one of my responsibilities at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, is working with the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP), so it was really neat to talk to the staff at Heidelberg that also work with BSMP.

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By Qianlei Li

President Barack Obama recently announced that the United States and China will increase the validity of student and exchange visitor visas from 1 to 5 years, and the validity of short-term tourist and business visas from 1 to 10 years. This is really great news and I’m glad to share why this agreement is important from a student perspective.

To begin with, it saves time, money, and energy for Chinese students studying in the United States. Previously, Chinese students applying for an F-1 visa were only granted an entry visa that was valid for a year. If our visa expired and if we planned to travel outside the United States (perhaps for an internship or study opportunity, or to visit family back home for the holidays), we needed to renew our visa annually, outside of the United States, either in China, Mexico, or Canada, before returning to continue our studies.

Because it’s difficult to figure out the visa renewal process in Mexico without having a strong command of Spanish, and also this year, Canada temporarily suspended processing of all non-Canadian visa applications, we have to go back to China and start the visa application all over again, including paying the $160 visa application fee and waiting hours outside of a U.S. consulate for an interview. Depending on the time of year, it can take up to a month to get your visa renewed. Therefore, most students choose to get their visas renewed during summer vacation. However, it costs at least $1,000 to get a round-trip air ticket to China, and the summer is a precious period of time to gain additional education and professional experience in the United States or somewhere else in the world.

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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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