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Archive for the ‘NAFSA Leaders’ Category

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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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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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 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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By Jesse Lutabingwa

I am extremely pleased that Ishmael Beah, a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist, will be one of the plenary speakers at the NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference & Expo in Boston. As a young boy, Beah survived a rebel attack during a civil war that killed his parents and two brothers. At the age of 13, he became a child soldier for the government army and fought for more than two years before being rescued by UNICEF.

The plight of children affected by these senseless wars was brought home to me in Tanzania. In 1996, I met a young Rwandan Tutsi refugee who escaped a massacre there in 1994. This boy, who at the time seemed to be between 13 and 14 years old, told a story of how he managed to survive by pretending to be dead by laying amidst bloodied dead family members and neighbors. This boy was psychologically and emotionally traumatized by what he had lived through and was experiencing nightmares at the time. As I listened to his story, I remember thinking to myself, how can this child be rehabilitated so that he can live a normal productive life without fear or the urge to take revenge. It was only later in my adult life that I came to realize that my childhood experience was different than that of many other children, like Beah, in other parts of the world.

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By Kavita Pandit

Recently, NAFSA announced that Shiza Shahid, co-founder and ambassador of the Malala Fund as a plenary speaker at the 2015 NAFSA Annual Conference in Boston. Ms. Shahid has been an outspoken advocate for the empowerment of girls through increased access to education ever since she was a young woman growing up in Pakistan.

The importance of the cause that Ms. Shahid is championing may seem self-evident to most of us living in the West. The realities of the lives of young girls in rural and impoverished regions of the world can be quite abstract – even to those like me who was born and raised in India but in an upper middle class, urban household. It was only because of an experience that I had many decades ago when I was in my early 20s that I realized, in an emotionally charged way, what the lives of many girls in these settings can be like.

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In his State of the Union address, President Obama declared 2014 as a “year of action,” and reminded Congress that “…what most Americans want [is] for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.” He shone a light on education by noting the importance of “….preparing tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education;” and he again asked Congress to take up commonsense immigration reform as he explained:

“When people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”

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Robert A. Pastor

My friend and international education’s friend, Bob Pastor, died last night at the age of 67, finally succumbing to a cancer that he had battled with characteristic courage, humor, and unrelenting determination for nearly four years—all the while ignoring, as only Bob could, the assurances of his doctors that he didn’t have that much time.

He will be remembered for many things, but among our last memories of him will be his absolute refusal to let his deteriorating physical condition interfere with his indefatigable professional lifestyle and his prolific scholarship. At the end, he was professor of international relations at American University and, until almost literally his last days, founder and director of that university’s Center for North American Studies.

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August recess. District work period. Town hall palooza. There are many names for this time in August when Congress leaves DC to go home for four weeks. But in the end it doesn’t matter what you call it, what really matters is who shows up.

NAFSA member Patti Jones from Macomb, Illinois showed up. Recently retired, Patti has been a member of NAFSA for over thirty years, serving in a variety of leadership positions. She is currently an Academy coach for NAFSA Region V. Patti went to a town hall hosted by her representative Aaron Schock, a Republican representing Illinois’ 18th congressional district. It was only the week before that Representative Schock made news for coming out in support of a pathway to citizenship at a town hall.

What made Patti go to the town hall?

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