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Archive for the ‘Annual Conference’ Category

By Lars Heikensten

Dr. Shirin Ebadi was the first female Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from the Islamic world.

The lawyer Shirin Ebadi was Iran’s first female judge. After Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution in 1979 she was dismissed. Ebadi opened a legal practice and began defending people who were being persecuted by the authorities. In the year 2000, she was imprisoned herself for having criticized her country’s hierocracy (rule of government by priests or ecclesiastics).

Shirin Ebadi took up the struggle for fundamental human rights and especially the rights of women and children. She took part in the establishment of organizations that placed these issues on the agenda, and wrote books proposing amendments to Iran’s succession and divorce laws. She also wanted to withdraw political power from the clergy and advocated for the separation of religion and state.

In its choice of Ebadi, the Committee for the Nobel Peace Prize expressed a wish to reduce the tensions between the Islamic and the Western world following the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. At the same time, the Committee wished to extend a helping hand to the Iranian reform movement. Shirin Ebadi underlines herself that she sees no contradiction between Islam and fundamental human rights.

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By Rose Mary Valencia

Did you know that the host city for the the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference & Expo, Los Angeles, was rated the number one U.S. city in Lonely Planet’s Best Travel in 2017? It’s true! Read all about this vibrant, sunny, and diverse locale.

This wonderful conference city isn’t the only thing to look forward to at this year’s conference. The 2017 Annual Conference Committee (ACC) has planned an incredible educational program, and the NAFSA 2017 Expo Hall will be bustling with more than 300 exhibitors from around the world.

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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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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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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. (more…)

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By Meredith McQuaid

The 2016 presidential election is upon us as I write this. It has been a time of division and rancor in the country; strong words have been uttered and published – the pain from which will take a long time and great effort to heal. But these sentiments are not new, nor are the possible consequences insurmountable. We have stories from men and women of today, and from decades past to remind us that we have been here before – and that we still have a great deal of work to do.

The stories we share can help us learn from each other. Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns tells of one the greatest internal migrations in the history of the United States, when some six million individuals of color, over a fifty year period, made their way from the South to places they believed would provide better opportunities. Wilkerson focused on the trajectories of three individuals, in three different decades, to bring that history to light. These are unforgettable stories we would be wise to keep fresh in our minds.

I have always been proud to be a “Northerner,” and what that represented in the assumed story we told ourselves about how much wiser and more humane we were than those who lived in and ruled the South. I was more than humbled by Wilkerson’s book – I was ashamed. The conditions in the North and the Midwest were different for black Americans than in the South, but they presented their own challenges, and they were far less transparent. Wilkerson’s book reminded me that we ought not to judge, lest we be judged; that it is our duty to explore those parts of history that have been denied.

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By Brad Sekulich

A career in study abroad was not on my radar when I was an undergraduate student, or even for some time after that. The path that has brought me to the field of education abroad–my chosen field for almost 20 years now–has been very interesting and one I never would have anticipated.

The financial need for a job while working on a PhD led me to take my first job in international education at Texas Tech University. I was their first full-time study abroad advisor and left after a year to become the first full-time study abroad coordinator at University of Texas-Arlington. It’s important to note that I was the first full-timer at these institutions, serving in positions that are now very common. It says a lot about the field’s development in the past two decades. It really is impressive to see the growth of opportunities in education abroad, mostly because it means there is more need for our services. The American mindset is globalizing, albeit more slowly than for most of our liking.

As the field has evolved in the past two decades, so too have the ways we enter it, work in it, and promote it. Now many, if not most, folks working in or wanting to work in education abroad do so intentionally and with quite a bit of forethought.

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By Tiffany Harrison and Kayla Patterson

With the NAFSA annual conference just around the corner, we’d like to talk about the importance of getting social. More specifically, we’re referring to the use of social media to enhance your career and professional development. As we’ve stated previously, merging your offline and online networking together is integral to how you market yourself. To give you a better sense as to why your online profile has become increasingly valuable, we’re covering some of the key questions we’ve received as social media advocates, and discussing what it means for you as an international educator.

Why is social media so important for career development?

Social media is important for career development because it’s such a powerful form of networking. As is inherent in the term “social networks,” channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram have become the places to build a network of friends, fans, followers, connections, or whatever else you’d like to call them! Networking is key to career and professional development. The connections you make on social media could help you get a new job, find a mentor, learn more about your industry, support a career change, and more.

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By Michele Friedmann

As you plan for your trip to Denver and start packing, please consider the following tips and suggestions. The sky in Denver is bluer, the air is thinner and dryer, and alcohol is gong to hit you much harder! But don’t let the high altitude scare you. As long as you come prepared, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your week in Denver!

Denver is nicknamed the Mile High City because its official elevation is exactly one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level, making it one of the highest major cities in the United States! In fact, the 11th step on the state capitol building is labeled “One Mile Above Sea Level.” It was discovered in 2002 that Denver is actually 3 feet higher than previously thought so there’s some debate over whether the correct step. is marked But whether it’s the 11th step or another, either way there’s one step that sits at exactly 5,280 feet!

Altitude Effects

Interested in improving your golf score? You’re in luck! In Denver, golf balls go 10 percent farther due to the low air density. The effects are similar in baseball—fly balls typically transfer 5 percent farther at Coors Field than at Fenway. In this rarified air, cocktails go much further too. Alcoholic beverages hit you much harder at high altitudes than at sea level. It’s highly recommended that you take it easy on alcohol. If you don’t, you’ll certainly feel it the next day. Trust me on this one.

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By Patricia Jones

When I got my first business card, I was so excited. Here at last was proof that I was a recognized professional in a position of authority in international education. I could exchange it with my peers, provide it to my students, and present it to individuals from around the world. This was validation of who I was.

For years, I carried it proudly in my card case. It was a part of my personal identification. But then came the day that it no longer defined me. I was retiring.

Many of us look forward to the day when we don’t have to get up early in the morning, dress for work, and do our jobs all day. However, as we close in on that rite of passage known as “retirement,” we often have concerns about how we will adjust. What will we do with our time? How will we replace the interactions with our colleagues? Will we still grow intellectually? Our lives are so filled with individuals we serve, people we nurture, and cross-cultural experiences we share that we are not sure about the whole process of moving into this new world of unknowns.

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