Archive for the ‘NAFSA’ Category

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 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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With new tools providing greater understanding of the motives for student mobility and what drives students to seek out educational experiences abroad, international education professionals now have the unique opportunity to better anticipate where the next educational destination will be.

To help uncover what 2015 holds for the student travel market, NAFSA invited Atle Skalleberg, CEO of StudentUniverse, a technology company that empowers students and youth to travel, to share his company’s insight on what their data is telling them about trends to expect in the coming months.

What growth do you expect in the student travel market in 2015? What will be the largest driver fueling the growth?

Student travelers are critical stakeholders in the tourism industry and are sometimes overlooked as airlines focus on current business travelers. In reality, students make up 20 percent of all arrivals in the travel industry today. By 2020, more than 300 million student-related arrivals are expected, a number that will represent a quarter of total tourism. By the same time, 50 percent of all business travelers are expected to be millennials.

One of the key drivers fueling the growth of student travel is international specialty travel. Education travel leads the pack, and we see new markets coming online as well as continued growth from emerging markets such as China and Brazil. These students also travel a substantial amount within their destination country.


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Jodi SimekBy Jodi Simek

In October 2014, I participated in the prestigious Baden-Württemberg (BW) seminar in Germany, which has proven to be one of the most beneficial professional development experiences in my career.

For those unfamiliar with the Baden-Württemberg seminar, it is a weeklong training program sponsored by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research, and Arts in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. In cooperation with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and NAFSA, the ministry invites 15 international educators and registrars from throughout the United States to learn about the education system in Baden-Württemberg.

While at the BW seminar, our group visited a number of German universities where we discussed a wide variety of approaches to higher education with German advisers, directors, and coordinators. We were also able to meet both German and American students, visit facilities, and learn about the institutions. Each day we were escorted to our site visit by members of the international office at Heidelberg University to gain an understanding of how their international office is organized. For example, one of my responsibilities at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, is working with the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP), so it was really neat to talk to the staff at Heidelberg that also work with BSMP.


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#GivingTuesday, taking place this year on December 2, will once again focus on celebrating and promoting generosity.

Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, this global day of giving back was created to encourage charitable activities in support of nonprofit organizations.

This year, NAFSA is asking everyone to participate in #GivingTuesday by contributing in support of the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program.

This initiative empowers international educators working with underrepresented populations to expand internalization efforts on their campuses. Earlier this year, 27 fellow educators from tribal colleges; historically black colleges and universities; Hispanic-serving institutions; and community colleges and associates colleges attended the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo in San Diego as beneficiaries of the program.


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By Ebony Majeed

While serving as the secretary in the International Office at Hampton University (my alma mater) in 2011, I learned of NAFSA. Everything I laid my eyes on regarding this organization painted a picture for me: a utopian, international society of educators willing to travel, spend long hours in meetings and conferences, and learn from each other all for the same purpose – to better our international communities, to increase diversity and its understanding, and to strengthen our educational foundations. I knew I needed NAFSA in my life.

Now, almost 4 years later and serving as the director of the same international office, NAFSA is a part of my life.

My first NAFSA conference was May 2014 in San Diego, California. Not only was it my first time in California, but it was also my first time surrounded by thousands (and I do mean thousands) of international educators and decisionmakers with the same goals as myself. I was, and still am, amazed at the experience.

The breakout sessions, first-timers orientations, conference scholarship opportunities (I am a NAFSA Diversity Impact Program recipient), speakers with expertise in specific fields, and so much more, all were put together with a precise rationale. That conference, no doubt, was a social manifestation of our intellectual selves as NAFSAns.


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NAFSA creates multiple opportunities for international educators that provide long-lasting benefits and career growth. Some of our latest NAFSA members already know that firsthand.

One of NAFSA’s newest initiatives, the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program, rewards those working with underserved student populations on a variety of campuses.

At the 2014 Annual Conference & Expo in San Diego, 27 honorees, all working at tribal colleges; historically black colleges and universities; Hispanic-serving institutions; and community colleges and associates colleges, attended workshops, sessions, and luncheons on a variety of international education topics.

After the conference ended, many NAFSA Diversity Impact Program participants found themselves and their work transformed by their experience.

“My attendance at NAFSA has added legitimacy to the development of an Office of Global Studies,” said Cynthia D. Rapp Sandhu, global studies coordinator at San Juan College, on how her attendance in San Diego benefitted her school.


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Fanta Aw, NAFSA president and chair, recognized representatives from Simon Fraser (British Columbia, Canada) and Zheijang (Hangzhou, China) universities for their winning entry in NAFSA’s 2014 Celebrating International Education Video Contest last Wednesday morning at the Annual Business Meeting in San Diego. Katya Kirsh was on hand to accept an award, and representatives from the runners up, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (Washington, D.C.) and RMIT (Melbourne, Australia), also attended. Congratulations to Simon Fraser and Zhejiang for winning the 2014 Celebrating International Education Video Contest and to all of the institutions for their participation.


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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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