Civil discourse and constructive dialogue seem to have vanished from our collective experience. As the political debates get uglier and become increasingly excruciating to even pay attention to, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the tips I have learned from my involvement in the field of international education.

The “other” in this post refers to someone who is markedly different from oneself – whether politically, economically, geographically, religiously, etc. The process of interacting with someone who is “other” can lead either to degraded, destructive interactions, or to insightful and constructive dialogues that are mutually enriching.


  • noun  di·a·logue \ˈdī-ə-ˌlȯg, -ˌläg\
  • a : a conversation between two or more persons
  • b : an exchange of ideas and opinions
  • c : a discussion between representatives of parties to a conflict that is aimed at resolution

Here are Some Tips to Help

1. Keep it civil.

Consider the definition of “civil”. Merriam-Webster includes “polite but not friendly” in its definition. This is important. You do not need to become best friends with the person you are in dialogue with. Respect your own beliefs and boundaries, but also respect their beliefs and boundaries.

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By Ellen H. Badger and Shawna Szabo

Throughout your career, you will be faced with unavoidable realities that may disrupt your journey. Rather than having these realities affect you in a negative way, why not turn lemons into lemonade? Transforming a possibly negative situation into a positive one is not easy, but it is a skill that certainly can be learned.

During our Career Center Speaker Series presentation at NAFSA 2016 in Denver, we discussed a number of these “career realities” and offered different strategies for dealing with them. We’ve chosen to focus on two for this blog: the increased mobility of employees and the challenge of unfilled staff vacancies.  Continue Reading »

By Samantha Martin

Are you in conflict at your office? We’ve all been there.

Something got unexpectedly pushed onto our plate, something was said, someone clammed up, someone lashed out, something got dropped, someone was overlooked, something went unnoticed, etc. And, we take offense.

It’s not a mystery why conflict upsets us. No matter the title or years of experience, work is important to us. We invested a lot of time and money to be eligible for the position we are in. We made sacrifices along the way. We want to be seen and valued. We want to grow and know that our work matters.

How do we move beyond trouble at the office? The same way we train our students to move through conflict when they go abroad.

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The United States must foster policies and practices that welcome international students to our institutions of higher education. Misstating the facts about immigrants in this country not only distorts the policy debate, but also makes those who are born outside our borders less likely to feel they are welcome here and that their contributions are appreciated.

In his much anticipated immigration policy speech, Presidential candidate Donald Trump distorted facts about immigrants. By stating that, “62 percent of households headed by illegal immigrants used some form of cash or non-cash welfare programs, like food stamps or housing assistance,” Trump implies that undocumented immigrants receive federal government assistance. In fact, the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, commonly known as welfare reform, effectively barred undocumented immigrants from receiving any federal benefits. (It also severely curtailed access to federal benefits programs by legal immigrants.) Similarly, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as the food stamp program until 2008.

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By Sora H. Friedman

Earlier this year, I kicked off this two-part blog series examining how NAFSA’s International Education (IE) Professional Competencies can be used for team development and hiring with a post providing background about the competencies and asking IE supervisors and hiring managers to provide feedback (via online survey) on how they are using the competencies in their own work.

Additionally, during the NAFSA 2016 conference in Denver, I led a presentation in the NAFSA 2016 Career Center considering how the competencies can be used as a tool to assess team skills, strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in order to assist with the professional development of current staff and to plan for future hiring searches. My goal with each was to engage with as many people as possible about how they have used the tool within their own offices. Here’s what I learned.

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statue_of_liberty_200x150This week, the United States welcomes the 10,000th refugee fleeing the violence and turmoil in Syria, thus following through on a promise made by the Obama Administration last year. More could and should be done. NAFSA urges Congress and the next administration to amplify efforts and provide security to as many as 100,000 refugees from Syria in the coming year. As NAFSA CEO Marlene M. Johnson noted in her congressional testimony last year, we have the ability and duty to open our doors to an even greater number of people in need.

In addition to providing security and hope to those fleeing terror, we also urge the administration to streamline the visa process for refugee students in order to ensure that Syrian students seeking higher education in the United States have a path to do so. The administration could, for example, ease the requirement that foreign students demonstrate they have no intent to immigrate to the United States. The administration could also address the severe logistical challenges foreign students face by allowing required in-person interviews to take place in locations other than U.S. consulates.

The United States is viewed by the world as the leader in international education. We not only have the capacity to provide refugee students with an education that begins to reshape the future that was stolen from them, but also the moral obligation to do so.

Incoming refugees are properly and thoroughly screened prior to their arrival in the United States in order to ensure our own safety. By taking the steps to further the education of victims of war—especially in higher education—and providing them opportunities to rebuild their lives and contribute to their new campuses and communities, we foster greater global peace and security as well.

Edited by Ellen Badger

We’re kicking off the new academic year with this Advice From the Field column by Deborah L. Pierce, PhD, associate consultant at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, who offers helpful strategies for managing the potential downside of being an internal candidate.

Q. I was an internal candidate for a position in my current office that would have meant a promotion, but an external candidate got the job. I’m really disappointed. Are there options other than looking elsewhere? What’s the best way for me to manage this setback?

A. Deb Pierce

You are not alone; this has happened to me and will happen to most of us at some point in our careers. I understand why this feels like a setback: you committed to that search and didn’t succeed, which doesn’t feel very good. Here are some steps I took to deal with similar situations. Continue Reading »

UPDATE: Adding to the string of recent victories for supporters of voting rights, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck key provisions of North Carolina’s discriminatory Voter ID law. The court said, “The new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision” and “impose cures for problems that did not exist.” Echoing decisions in previous cases, such as those below, in which laws deemed to prevent alleged voter fraud were struck down, the judge went on to note that, “the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation” of disenfranchising minority, mostly democratic voters.

Following the decision, at least one political candidate tried to stoke fears about how this recent victory for democracy might affect the November presidential elections, raising unfounded assertions about the possibility of people voting 10 times. In fact, studies have shown that the type of voter fraud that is supposed to be addressed by voter ID laws doesn’t exist. One study found that out of one billion votes cast, only thirty-one showed evidence of voter impersonation. Likewise, there is absolutely no evidence that multiple voting will occur, and there are already safeguards in place against such fraud short of the modern-day poll tax that was attempted in North Carolina.

Fortunately for America, we know better than to believe soundbites that would conveniently have us deny the right to vote to our fellow citizens. Our democracy depends fundamentally on protecting everyone’s right to vote, and these recent court decisions are the next logical step in our way toward a more perfect union, following hard-fought battles of the suffragettes and the Civil Rights movement to ensure the right to vote for all Americans.

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International students and professionals are critical to the strength and well-being of communities across the entire United States, yet their impact is too often overlooked or taken for granted. By delaying meaningful immigration reform, we risk losing the valuable contributions made by these immigrants.

Our Healthcare System Relies on Foreign-Born Professionals

Our healthcare system relies on foreign-born workers, and the demand for medical professionals from outside our borders will only increase. Currently, twenty five percent of physicians and surgeons working in the United States–plus comparable portions of other healthcare positions–were born elsewhere.

As the baby boomer population ages, they will increasingly need more medical care. In addition, their retirements will create a deficit of doctors, surgeons, nurses, health aids, dentists, pharmacists, and clinical techs. As a result, the ability to provide healthcare will be significantly strained, furthering a need for immigrant healthcare professionals.

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Summer is one of the best times to visit our nation’s capital. Travelers from all over the world come to enjoy the city’s monumental history, world-class museums, and diverse dining options, many of which can be enjoyed al fresco on a warm summer night.

Whether you’re coming to town for NAFSA’s Management Development Program or the Strategic Retreat for Education Abroad Leaders this summer, it’s important to enjoy all of the culture D.C. has to offer. Here are some “insider tips” on how to experience the city, whether you are using our convenient bike share program, the extensive metro and bus system, or just going on foot!

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