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Archive for the ‘Annual Conference’ Category

ashley glennAshley Glenn
It was my first time to the NAFSA annual conference, also my first year in the field, and I traveled to San Diego alone.

Attending NAFSA can be overwhelming in the way family reunions show how far your family name extends and how few people you know. Not knowing anyone, it is tempting to stand at the edge of the room, walking in only for hors d’oeuvres (which I did at one of the receptions).

My first time at NAFSA, I was determined to get involved. For this to happen, I needed a plan, a master list. Many boxes would need to be checked. A few weeks after the conference program arrived, I decided to start the process. This would require an Americano and a few hours of reading through session descriptions, poster topics, volunteer options, and more. Similar to planning a trip, I needed to think strategically to make the most of my time.

This moment of strategy arrived when I saw that the Career Center would be offering a case-study challenge. This was the fulcrum by which to focus my week. I now had a conference conversation starter—”have you heard of the case study challenge?”

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Dream Big

Kakenya Ntaiya did not learn that female genital mutilation was illegal in her home country of Kenya until she came to the United States as an international student. She did not know that women were allowed to own property or that girls were entitled to an education until she read it in a book while completing a research project at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia.

“Through that, I learned about my country and home more than I could ever have imagined,” said Ntaiya at the Thursday plenary address in San Diego.

Ntaiya, a 2013 CNN Hero, is the founder of the Kakenya Center of Excellence in her hometown of Enoosean, Kenya. The school offers young girls in her community the opportunity receive an education and escape the future that awaited her: female circumcision and early marriage. “I started losing my friends to marriage in the fourth grade,” said Ntaiya.

Although she was subjected to genital mutilation once she reached puberty, she convinced her father to delay her arranged marriage to let her finish her education, and eventually, Ntaiya was able to travel to the United States to attend college.

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Sheila Schulte, NAFSA senior director of international enrollment management and international student and scholar services, today joined Rahul Choudaha, PhD, chief knowledge officer for World Education Services, for a special session unveiling the results of a new national survey examining why international undergraduate students in the U.S. leave their institutions of first enrollment before completing their degree.

One of the key findings of the report is that “poor retention is a function of the mismatch between expectations of students prior to enrollment and the actual experience of students once they are on campus,” said Choudaha, who served as lead researcher on the project.

The report found that educational professionals identified reputation (67 percent), finances (64 percent), and academics (62 percent) as the top reasons for which international undergraduate students leave their institutions before completing their degree. In contrast, the top reasons for dissatisfaction reported by students relate only to financial dimensions: access to jobs or internships (37 percent), affordability (36 percent), and availability of scholarships (34 percent).

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International educators are united by a passion for bringing people closer and turning the foreign into the familiar. Many of them also connect through their awkward moments and misunderstandings in international exchange that later turn into humorous stories. As the opening plenary speaker for the NAFSA 2014 Annual Conference and Expo, award-winning actress Anna Deavere Smith read excerpts from interviews with international educators, telling tales of surprise weddings in Thailand and confusing bathrooms in Korea. These lighter experiences make it easy to examine differences and find commonalities across cultures, but Deavere Smith later presented some darker themes to show that unity and humanity can be found in unlikely places.

For her one-woman show Let Me Down Easy, Deavere Smith conducted more than 300 interviews on three continents, including conversations with Rwandans recovering and rebuilding from the genocide. She also mentioned the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in South Africa after the fall of apartheid. Both countries established formal systems to bring atrocities to light, allowing those who had been wronged the opportunity to forgive the perpetrators and those who had committed crimes the chance to apologize. In order to rebuild their societies, these countries needed to develop a way for the people to move on and work together.

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Mitch GordonBy Mitch Gordon

Let’s set the stage: You have received an e-mail/phone call inviting you to interview with the international education organization of your dreams. While an accomplishment, the most important part is yet to come. You’re feeling understandably nervous; you want to prepare for the interview and put your best foot forward. While not a comprehensive list by any means, I hope the advice below will inspire you to be your best self and ace your interview. Good luck!

Ask Good Questions During Your Interview
Asking good questions is one of the best ways to make a lasting impression. The right questions demonstrate that you understand the business and reflect an ability to think critically. What, you may be asking, qualifies as a good question? That’s a good question in and of itself! I’d place interview questions into two broad categories. First, questions you can prepare for. Second, questions that arise from the interview itself. In the first category, ask questions that show you understand the position you’re applying for and that provide insight into long-term business goals.

For example: “What do you hope the person in this position will achieve over the next two years?” The best thing you can do is research the organization in a genuine, interested way. As you research, ask yourself what it would take to do amazingly well at the job you’re applying for. Excellent questions will naturally emerge from that type of introspection.

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By Ellen H. Badger and Shawna Szabo

Did you miss our earlier blog post, “How to Use Networking and Informational Interviews to Start a Career, Further a Career, or Change a Career?” You’ll find it here .

As we mentioned in that post, informational interviews can lead to a “foot in the door” when it comes to starting or advancing a career in international education. Now we reveal five tips for a successful informational interview.

  • Do your research regarding the person with whom you’ll meet. A quick Google search can give you some great conversation starters about their past publications or presentations in the field.
  • Dress to impress. This may not be a formal job interview but you want to be sure to make a good impression.
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Bradley MoonBy Bradley Moon

While my blog posts leading up to the annual conference have included many San Diego lists of “must dos, sees, and eats,” today’s post provides a smorgasbord of reminders to help get the most out of NAFSA’s 2014 Annual Conference and your visit to San Diego!

Kick Off Your Conference at the Opening Celebration!
Tuesday, May 27, 5:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Enjoy the ocean breeze and a magnificent sunset on the San Diego Bay! As a part of your registration fee, the Opening Celebration will include food stations and one drink ticket per person (beer, wine, and soft drinks). A cash bar will also be available. Guest tickets are available online or at registration. The celebration will feature live music by musician, humanitarian, and children’s book author Michael Franti, who is recognized as a pioneering force in using music as a vehicle for positive change. Also known for his unforgettable, high-energy shows, Franti achieved multiplatinum success with his song “Say Hey (I Love You)” and the chart-breaking 2010 release of “The Sound of Sunshine.” Franti and his band guarantee a thought-provoking show that promises to be a fun dance party… so bring your dancing shoes!

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Mitch GordonBy Mitch Gordon

Interested in finding a job in international education? You’re not alone. Finding a job in international education can be incredibly competitive. That fact may be surprising when you consider this: The tangible benefits aren’t very impressive. You should expect a modest salary and benefits, limited opportunities for advancement, and sometimes long working hours and travel. Why, you may ask, are these positions in such high demand? Because you’ll be doing meaningful, rewarding work that has a real impact on real people. With the above in mind, how can you make your goal a reality and find a job in international education?

In applying for a job, there’s no perfect formula. However, there are some best practices to follow that will help your application stand out from the crowd, increase your chances of getting an interview, and ultimately boost your chance of receiving a coveted job offer.

Start Your Search Before You Need the Job
The worst time to look for a job is when you really, really need one. Start now. How? It’s a lot easier than you might think. People in the world of international education are an extremely friendly, passionate group. Get to know them better. Form relationships with people at organizations and companies you respect.

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As they develop regulations, policies, and practices that affect international education, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) officials need to hear from international educators about the important trends in international education and current issues affecting your institution and your work.

An open meeting at the NAFSA 2014 Annual Conference will provide you the opportunity to meet with SEVP Director Lou Farrell, share this information with him, and ask him questions: 

Discussion of Trends and Issues in International Education with SEVP Director Lou Farrell
Thursday, May 29
11: 00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
San Diego Convention Center Room 29ABCD

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By Bob Ericksen

The trickiest part of figuring out if you are “management material” is being honest enough with yourself to determine your readiness. I asked someone the “are you ready?” question last year at the conference and the response was “I deserve it! I’ve had this job for 11 years!” Sorry, wrong answer.

For sure, time and experience are key factors in developing good managers. More than that, however, good managers share skill-sets, attitudes, and world-views that provide them with the leadership skills necessary for success. Key among those is what I’d call “‘Big picture’ thinking.” Today’s blog post will focus on this area, along with tips for building this skill right here at the conference.

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