By Diana Carlin

As I write this, the New Year is only a couple of days old and the hope for a 2017 that is filled with less violence, war, and human suffering than in 2016 is strong. As a NAFSAN who has spent time in countries torn apart by war or with a long history of oppression, I share the belief of many other NAFSA members that our work makes a difference in finding a path to a more peaceful and just world.

For the fourth year, the NAFSA annual conference will include a Seminar on Peace and Global Civil Society. Originally named after former NAFSA president Ron Moffatt, a strong supporter of international education as one path to peace and social justice, this year’s seminar will explore how to incorporate film and other forms of storytelling into the curriculum. Since NAFSA plenary speakers complement conference themes and programs, the selection of Abigail Disney as our closing plenary speaker is an excellent choice. Disney and her production company, Fork Films, have supported more than 50 films that stress themes representative of NAFSA’s values of peace building, human rights, and social justice.

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A Fond Farewell

Marlene M. JohnsonAs I retire from my position as executive director and CEO of NAFSA, I wanted to take a moment to thank you so very much for allowing me the opportunity to lead such an outstanding organization. NAFSA has been and always will be committed to creating a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous world by ensuring that every student or scholar who wishes to find a global experience has the ability to do so, regardless of his or her socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or background.

As the largest association dedicated solely to international education, NAFSA continuously scans the social, economic, and political environment to anticipate and analyze trends and issues affecting the field. We use this information to create and disseminate knowledge and resources that are responsive to the needs of our members. I am proud of the array of professional development opportunities that are available to serve the full range of professionals in the field, and I know that these resources will evolve and improve with continued input from our stakeholders. It is also rewarding to see the significant progress we have made in integrating global and international perspectives throughout higher education institutions. This work has required all of us to be more strategic and collaborative as we build bridges across academic affairs and student affairs; curriculum and cocurriculum; and faculty and professional staff.

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statue_of_liberty_200x150In a year-end bipartisan near miracle, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have come together to propose a bill to provide protection for young immigrants who have been granted or are eligible for protection from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. DACA is an executive order implemented by the Obama administration. Because it is an executive order, and not a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, it could easily be rolled back by the incoming administration. That is why bipartisan congressional action is so essential for young immigrants who want to continue to contribute to America, the only home they have ever known.

Senator Durbin and Graham’s bill, Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act or the BRIDGE Act, will be introduced in the new year in the new Congress to protect immigrants brought to the United States as children without documentation. These are our children; they played by the rules attending school with our children, graduating from our high schools. Mirroring DACA, BRIDGE applicants would be required to pay a fee, undergo criminal background checks, and be determined not to pose a security threat.

These young people did nothing wrong, and have contributed to our communities. They want to continue their education and legally work in the United States. They need Congress and the American people to make it possible.

We applaud Senator Durbin and Senator Graham for working together to protect those young people who have or are eligible for DACA. Let this year-end bipartisan act be a harbinger of a new year and a new Congress brimming with bipartisan bills that bring Americans together. Only then will we be able to tackle the underlying issue: create a bipartisan bridge to an immigration system that works for the United States with a path out of the shadows for undocumented immigrants who want to get in a line for legal immigration status.

End of Year Campaign

#GivingTuesday is over, but our efforts on behalf of the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program continue. You may not have been able to give that week, but you still can support the program. The time is now. A timely year-end donation will allow more participants access and opportunities through the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program.

The NAFSA Diversity Impact Program supports professionals from tribal colleges and universities; historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs); and community colleges and associates colleges by helping them expand capacity, grow study abroad, and increase student global competencies.

NAFSAns have played critical roles in the program through either donations or mentoring. You have helped 83 participants since 2014, and we plan to continue the program in 2017. Graduates of the program better serve their students and communities, and are on a pathway to future leadership roles.

Donate now. If you gave earlier and want to add support for the Diversity Impact Program, we appreciate your additional contribution. I urge you to bring 2016 to a close with a tax-deductible gift to the Diversity Impact Program. Continue Reading »

For the last 30 plus years, my favorite memorabilia item has been a basketball, signed by the Los Angeles Lakers, and handed to me by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The event was the pregame ceremony at an exhibition game between the Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks sponsored by Minnesota-based Republic Airlines. Republic CEO Steven Wolf and I (then Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota) were walking to the center court when Steve asked me which center I’d like to receive a ball from. Even then, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s leadership was in full bloom and I was thrilled to feel it up close.

That two-minute ceremony has been a fond memory of mine ever since, so it is with particular joy that I can play a role in introducing him to NAFSA, and share in what I know will be an inspiring speech to NAFSA 2017 conference attendees on Wednesday, May 31, in Los Angeles.

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votingPresident-elect Donald Trump’s fabricated claims that undocumented immigrants have voted in numbers large enough to sway the popular vote undermines citizens’ trust in our democracy, undercuts the legitimacy of U.S. democracy abroad, and demonizes undocumented immigrants while diverting attention from legitimate concerns about our democracy, including money in politics, suppression of U.S. citizens’ right to vote, and gerrymandering.

Rates of voter fraud of the type President-elect Trump is alleging are miniscule, ranging from 0.00004 percent to 0.0009 percent, according to a seminal report by the Brennan Center for Justice. However, by making unfounded claims of voter fraud involving millions of people, President-elect Trump sows deep distrust of our elections and challenges the fundamental right of every American to have a voice in our democracy through his or her vote. At best, his contention could result in voter suppression if enough people think the system is so flawed they decide not to participate. At worst, it damages the foundation of our democracy by calling into question the validity of our elections.

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Today is #GivingTuesday

By Fanta Aw

#GivingTuesday is today. I urge you to join me in supporting NAFSA’s Diversity Impact Program with your donation. You have often heard me talk about the importance of inclusion and diversity in our field. I remain deeply committed to insuring we continue to engage a deep and strong membership as leaders in the field of international education.

The NAFSA Diversity Impact Program continues our tradition of being an inclusive association. It increases access to our field and profession by underrepresented institutions, and is invaluable in developing outstanding international education programs and leaders.

On this international day of giving, we can all advance our field by contributing in support of diversity and inclusion. Join me by donating now.

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By Melissa Vivian

Earlier this year at the NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference & Expo in Denver, I had the opportunity to speak with my NAFSA colleagues about Gallup Education’s Clifton StrengthsFinder, an assessment tool designed to help individuals and organizations identify what it is that they do best and how to boost that greatness in others.

This year’s conference marked the second time I’ve had the pleasure of speaking about StrengthsFinder assessments. In 2015, our StrengthsFinder “primer” covered the theory behind the practice of taking a strengths focus in your career. For 2016, we moved the conversation further to the practical application of strengths for professional team development.

NAFSA 2016 attendees took an hour out of their week to participate in an engaging experiential ice breaker that allowed them to physically see where they “stand” on certain strengths compared to their colleagues. Then we moved into a paper tower-building challenge that put strengths into action and provided an opportunity for powerful reflection. Some towers were tall, some were large, and others beautifully designed, but the real winners of the challenge were those participants who walked away with greater awareness of their strengths and how to identify them in their teammates. Continue Reading »

#GivingTuesday is early this leap year, so save the date for November 29. NAFSA will once again participate in the #GivingTuesday campaign in support of the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program.

Founded in 2012 as an international day of giving, this special day celebrates generosity as the holiday season begins. NAFSA will join with more than 30,000 organizations worldwide to support the #GivingTuesday movement.

All funds raised by NAFSA will support the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program, which fosters diversity, both professionally and institutionally, within the field of international education. The Diversity Impact Program provides international education professionals from tribal colleges and universities; historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs); and community colleges and associates colleges, with complimentary registration to the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo, yearlong mentoring, and access to professional development opportunities.

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By Mandy Reinig

The job search process can be long and tedious. What many job seekers don’t realize is that it can also be an embarrassing and a humbling process, especially if they do not clean up their social media channels prior to their job search.

Currently, 43 percent of employers are using social media sites to make hiring decisions, and 51 percent of those who use social media sites found something that caused them to not hire someone. This included provocative photos; posts bad-mouthing their previous or current employer; and information or pictures about the candidates’ alcohol consumption and drug use. While it would seem like common sense not to post these items, you would be surprised how many people, and not just young people, post these items frequently without understanding the long-reaching consequences.

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