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Archive for the ‘Annual Conference’ Category

As chair of the NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference & Expo Annual Conference Committee (ACC), I have had the distinct honor of working with ACC content chair Sara Thurston and an outstanding ACC team to develop a rich and diverse range of educational opportunities for NAFSA 2016 that will make this year’s program in Denver, Colorado, one of the best ever.

Collectively the ACC read more than 600 proposals and worked with over 250 reviewers to develop an exciting and exceptional offering for participants.

The theme of the 2016 Annual Conference, Building Capacity for Global Learning, challenges all of us to think about the ways our work facilitates learning and makes the international education field so successful. Deepening global learning for students, scholars, and researchers is, ultimately, the reason we do what we do, whether you are in immigration advising, recruitment, education abroad, administration, teaching, or the service industry. In addition, we attend the NAFSA Annual Conference to learn with and from each other in order to build our individual skills and knowledge that will enhance capacity at our home institutions.

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By Diana Carlin

NAFSA 2016 offers a full slate of outstanding plenary speakers. But one in particular is of special interest to me for both personal and professional reasons. When I read the introduction to Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, describing the first time she arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, I immediately identified with the sights, sounds, smells, and experience of wearing and keeping on a headscarf along with the anxiety of getting through the arrival process.

Over a four-year period, I visited Kabul five times to work on an NGO project with university students. Lemmon’s lively and detailed writing style brought back memories, but what affected me more was how she captured the spirit of the Afghan people and especially the women in this country who have known war for over 30 years. I too also met women who survived the Taliban years and who engaged in similar entrepreneurial activities as the book describes. I purchased beautiful clothing from a cooperative where women sell their creations to support their families. I know that Lemmon will bring all of her experiences to life for the NAFSA audience as she has for her readers.

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By Meredith McQuaid

Bryan StevensonIf you have not yet had the chance to hear Bryan Stevenson, founder and CEO of the Equal Justice Initiative, and author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, prepare to be utterly inspired when he speaks at NAFSA’s 2016 Annual Conference & Expo in Denver. And, if you have had the chance to hear him speak before, then you will likely be one of the first to grab a seat near the front of the auditorium.

Bryan is passionate on speaking out about our failed criminal justice system. He is outspoken about this country’s tolerance for deliberate and demonstrated injustice against the poor. He is also articulate, honest, provocative, and charming. This combination of characteristics allows him to get under your skin while he holds up a mirror to our society. If you’re like me, you will remember things he says about us and our country for days, even weeks afterward. But of course, remembering what he says and acting upon it are two different things, and I am reminded, in writing this, that there are things I can and must do to be part of the solution.

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By Debra Stewart

david brooks ny timesThe recent announcement of David Brooks as the opening plenary speaker at the NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference & Expo is great news for all NAFSAns. As a member of the NAFSA board attending recent NAFSA annual conferences, I’ve been struck by the extraordinary caliber of NAFSA’s plenary speakers. From my 14 years experience as president of a partner organization, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), I know that successful conferences depend critically on compelling plenary speakers. At CGS, we were honored to have David Brooks as a plenary speaker more than once at our annual meetings and each time Mr. Brooks earned rave reviews from attendees.

David Brooks as a speaker will appeal to NAFSA members for exactly the same reasons he appealed so strongly to graduate deans. He is a thoughtful commentator on the contemporary political scene who brings considered conservative balance to a community discourse where liberal voices dominate. And, in providing that balance, he signifies a kind of civility and respect for others that is absolutely essential to moving forward effective and meaningful dialogue on critical policy issues.

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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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