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By Marty Tillman

Even though we finally have good economic news for the Class of 2015, this remains a confusing topic to write about. There is clear evidence of the financial gains for students with BA degrees versus those without the credential, and yet there is also incontrovertible research showing that employers (largely surveyed in the private sector) believe that students are graduating without the skill sets that they need to be hired (especially true in the technical fields).

A January 2015 survey conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, titled “Falling Short: Selected Findings from Online Surveys of Employers and College Students,“, includes data from a reported 400 executives at both private-sector and nonprofit organizations (rarely covered in such reports), and 613 students from both 2- and 4-year institutions.

Here are a few findings that I find especially significant:

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By Melissa Vivian and Alex Paisner

In today’s world of international education we spend much of our time with a very important demographic, millennials. From program promotion to onboarding, preparation, and on ground support, there are “old school” and “new school” technology solutions that will resonate, or not, with the students that we work with. Let’s take a look at some of the best platforms for reaching students in the manner in which they’re accustomed.

First, let’s define the term “millennial”

For many people, generalizations and stereotypes are the first things that come to mind when thinking about millennials. Depending on your study, those born between the years of 1979 and 2003 are categorized as the millennial generation, putting anyone between the ages of 16 and 33 in that category. Simply put, millennials account for 95 percent of our students and an increasing percentage of our offices. By 2025, millennials will account for roughly 75 percent of the U.S. workforce! They are the present in the university system and they are the future of the workforce, and as such, finding effective means of communication is incredibly important. Let’s run through some of the most effective mediums through which you can communicate with millennials as it relates to international programming.

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Sora FriedmanBy Sora Friedman

In my current roles as a teacher of international education and a member of the NAFSA Region XI chair stream, I am often asked about the value of an advanced degree for international education (IE) professionals. When does one need a master’s degree? Will it facilitate professional advancement? What value can a doctorate provide and how does the deep dive into a more focused area help in one’s work? This blog will explore these questions, taking into account that there is no one formula that works for everyone.

Do I need a master’s degree to work in the field of international education?

Many IE professionals agree that today a master’s degree is the minimal credential needed in the field. Whether in higher education administration, area studies, international management, international education, or another related field, a master’s level study provides you with needed skills that likely were not part of your undergraduate education. Learning about comparative educational systems; how to design and deliver a mobility program; training and advising skills; the structure and function of educational systems (e.g., administrative roles in higher education, accreditation requirements, the needs of faculty); the content and implications of accords, agreements, and legislation such as the Bologna Process, Generation Study Abroad, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; as well as how to conduct thorough and ethical research are all curricular learnings that advanced study can provide.

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Samantha MartinBy Samantha Martin

We train students to learn from failure abroad, while we ourselves are feeling afraid to fail at work. We coach students on how to spot a “teachable moment,” like misspeaking in another language, committing a social blunder, or missing the bus. We tell them how to cope with failure using humor, curiosity, and humility.

Yet where are we, as international educators, given permission to try and fail?

We can’t learn from failure when it’s never okay to fail. An example that comes to mind is being asked to produce new results without permission to try a new approach or tool. Similarly, the underlying message of “this is the way it’s always been done” buries new ideas before they even have a chance to emerge.

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Obama and Castro make history; the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund gains momentum

I was invited to represent NAFSA at last week’s CEO Summit of the Americas in Panama, which brought together corporate leaders in a meeting prior to the 7th Summit of the Americas for heads of state in the Western Hemisphere. The Summits were held to discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values, and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level.

As a result of recent shifts in Cuba policy announced by the Obama Administration, Cuba was invited for the first time to join the Summit, and the significance of this historic moment was palpable for all of us in attendance. Given NAFSA’s long-standing advocacy work on removing travel restrictions to Cuba, it was incredibly moving to be present for this historic moment. I had the opportunity to personally thank President Obama for his leadership on this issue, as well as offer NAFSA’s support for the work ahead on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, essential issues to resolve if we are to truly become a globally engaged, secure, and welcoming nation.

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By Clare O’Brien

One of the best perks of visiting the Boston area is its vicinity to other fun, historic locations and terrains, including scenic beaches and mountains. This week’s blog post is geared toward those who are interested in further exploring New England and planning to extend their conference week with additional day trips outside of Boston.

There are so many options when it comes to going to the beach. Although it may not be swimsuit weather yet due to the cold temperature of the ocean, a walk along the Atlantic can help clear your mind. Plum Island is an 11-mile long barrier island off the shore of Newburyport, and 1.5 hours north of Boston. It offers views of a charming lighthouse and a lush nature preserve, which is a haven for bird watchers from all over the country. If you head up this way, stop and explore the cute shops and cafes in the town center, or stroll along the residential streets of Newburyport, past the brightly colored homes dating back to the shipbuilding days of the 1700s.

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Photo by Funky Tee, under Creative Commons public license

By Clare O’Brien

When you arrive in Boston, you will be amazed at the variety of neighborhoods that exist within a relatively small area. While these neighborhoods flow from one to the next, sometimes separated only by a stop on the “T” (Boston’s subway system), each section of the city has its own character and ambiance. This diversity of locales creates a wonderful opportunity to go back in time as you see historical sites, take in the local cultures, and taste foods from around the world. I challenge you to visit as many of these neighborhoods as possible during your free time in Boston.

South Boston/Seaport District
This is not just the home of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the area, this part of Boston is well-known for the working class Irish who still live there today. There are now also Lithuanian and Polish communities found here. Several historical sites can be visited in this neighborhood including Fort Point, Dorchester Heights, and Fort Independence on Castle Island.

Downtown
Historical landmarks are tucked in-between modern architecture in this central part of the city. Many Bostonians can be found here as civic employees at Government Center or young professionals working in the Financial District, both subdivisions of this neighborhood. They mingle with the tourists who stop at Faneuil Hall to watch the street performers or get a quick bite at Quincy Market. The Theater District is also located here if you are arriving early and are hoping to see a show, the ballet, or even an opera.

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By Clare O’Brien

As I mentioned in my last blog post, there are an abundance of wonderful restaurants in Boston. Several of these restaurants have well-known chefs and are frequently featured on TV and in “foodie” magazines. I know some of you may not have much free time to do the tourist thing and travel around the city, but if you make a point to get out for a meal, many of these locations will allow you to see some of the best parts of Boston.

I asked my colleagues from the Local Arrangements Team (LAT) to join in and share some of their favorite eateries. Here are a few of their suggestions:

Photo by 6SN7, under Creative Commons public license

LAT Conference Information and Hospitality Co-Chair Adrienne Nussbaum says her favorite Thai restaurant is the Brown Sugar Café, located a short T ride from the Back Bay. Adrienne recommends the Rama Garden, a specialty dish where you can select your favorite meat or veggies, which are steamed and covered in a lovely peanut sauce. Adrienne also highlights Aquitaine, a favorite French restaurant in the South End, or Tapeo on Newbury Street, right in the Back Bay for fantastic tapas.

LAT Special Events Co-Chair Laurien Romito loves Lineage in Coolidge Corner, a quaint neighborhood in Brookline, down the street from the birthplace of John F. Kennedy. She enjoys the $1 oysters they serve every day from 5:00-7:00 p.m. This farm-to-table restaurant offers modern American cuisine and is easily accessible by public transportation.

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By María José Angel Mex

As an early Christmas present last year, I was appointed by NAFSA as a consular affairs liaison to the Italian consulate in Houston, Texas. At the time, I had an idea of what my responsibilities would be, but I knew I still had a lot to learn. This proved to be true earlier this year when I attended NAFSA’s consular affairs liaison (CAL) training in Washington D.C, along with the 40 other members of the  CAL Subcommittee.

You might be wondering what exactly CALs do. To put it briefly, we try to help. CALs belong to country groups (France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the “World-at-Large”;) and represent the education abroad (EA) community to one of the consulates of those countries in the United States. We gather as much information as possible from our consulate and share it with the EA community, primarily through the Visas for Education Abroad section of http://www.nafsa.org.

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By Leah Newell

My name is Leah Newell. 2015 begins the second year of my serving as chair of the NAFSA Membership Committee.

Wait! Don’t leave! I know you are busy and probably have NO interest in the exciting topic of “The Role of the Membership Committee.” However, give me 5 minutes of your time and I promise you will gain some valuable information. Remember, if you know more, you can do more! So here we go.

Who we are
NAFSA’s Membership Committee is a group of NAFSA professional international educator members from a wide range of regions, focus areas, experience levels, and backgrounds. All of which help us do what we do.

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