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Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Clare O'BrienBy Clare O’Brien

We all know how easy it is to fill one’s schedule with back-to-back meetings, sessions, and events during the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo. But please don’t forget to leave time to explore the beautiful city of Boston during your stay in New England.

The list of things to do in Boston can be overwhelming, so I thought I would try to choose my top 10 favorite activities to share with you in my blog this week. If you can make this trip a family vacation, you will not be disappointed. All the things on my list are perfect for people of all ages!

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Clare O'BrienBy Simon Adams

It’s not every former child soldier who has a memoir on the New York Times bestseller list. Or has the Washington Post’s reviewer declare that, “everyone in the world should read this book.” Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone is a phenomenon, selling 1.5 million copies and even being offered over the counter at Starbucks alongside your morning frappuccino.

A Long Way Gone tells the story of the day the civil war in Sierra Leone came to Beah’s home town. Displaced and separated from his family, he wanders from village to village with his boyhood friends trying to stay ahead of the rebels who are laying waste to everything in their path. Beah eventually becomes a child soldier and, by his own admission, partakes of acts of bloodthirsty revenge against Revolutionary United Front rebels and their supporters. He is then rescued by UNICEF who help him rehabilitate himself. Finally, through luck, talent, and sheer determination, he makes his way to a new life, and high school, in New York in 1998.

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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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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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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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Julie FriendBy Julie Anne Friend

First, a disclaimer – I’m a lawyer, not a doctor, so the purpose of this blog post is not to provide medical advice, but to reference verifiable medical information and how it can be used to support your risk management strategies, as well as communication efforts, in managing a real or perceived health crisis.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever and I go way back. We first met in 1995 while I was a graduate student in Lusaka, Zambia. There was an outbreak of Ebola along our northern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire). Three hundred and fifteen people died in a village called Kikwit. It was big news, but I can’t really recall how. There were no cell phones, no Internet, and certainly no Twitter. E-mail existed, but access was sporadic and cumbersome. I think I learned everything I needed to know from CNN. I don’t remember being alarmed or afraid. I was right there – well, nearby – and I was not at all afraid.

That remained true for me even during the latest outbreak, which reached our shores but only in the most negligible way. And by negligible, I don’t mean to make light of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan or the transmission of the virus to four others, all of whom remain alive (the five others treated in the United States contracted the disease abroad, for a total of 10 cases). But compared to the tragedy playing out in West Africa – 5,165 dead with a fatality rate of 53-85 percent (depending on the source) – a more compassionate and less fearful reaction would’ve made more sense, particularly on campus.

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