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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By Mark Farmer

As former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “In the 21st Century, a quality education is an international education.” The global skills, knowledge, and experiences that are gained while studying abroad have a profound impact on a student’s ability to compete and collaborate with graduates from around the world and produce a more culturally informed citizenry. As educators and policymakers, we need to refocus our efforts to ensure a greater number and more diverse group of students has the opportunity to experience meaningful study abroad.

For Our Students
Studying abroad is a unique educational experience that provides global learning opportunities that are critical to a student’s success in the 21st Century. Students who have studied abroad have greater intercultural understanding, better grasp the complexity of global issues, and are better equipped to work with people from other countries. Studies have even shown a positive correlation between students who study abroad and higher grade point averages and degree completion rates. And this is especially true for underrepresented and at-risk students.

In a globalized economy, these skills are increasingly important and valued by employers. A 2014 survey of 800 U.S. business executives, found that 75% of the companies indicated that a global perspective was important for their staff and 80% believed their overall business would increase if more of their staff had more international experience. A quality study abroad program helps students gain the knowledge necessary to compete in the global economy and provides future entrepreneurs and business leaders a worldwide network that will be indispensable once they graduate. Continue Reading »

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 Fanta Aw

On October 31 at 3:56 p.m., I reported to the designated voting center to cast my early vote. Given what is at stake during this election for both my adopted country the United States, and for the world, I was not about to take any chances and miss my opportunity to exercise my right to vote. As I entered the civic center this beautiful Monday, I found close to a hundred people in the polling area poised to cast their vote. It brought a smile to my face, warmed my heart, and sustained my hope for this country.

Looking at the faces around me, I believed that many of these other voters, like myself, understood that much is at stake in this election, and that we cannot afford to be silent or sit on the sidelines. We were not going to be bystanders. I was especially hopeful when several people ahead of me were identified as first-time voters. They reminded me so much of myself when I cast my important first vote in 2008. It was a historic vote for our first African-American president. Once again, I was about to cast another historic vote, a vote that would ensure that this nation stands for what is right, and a vote that would ensure our collective future is not jeopardized.

Find U.S. election resources at www.connectingourworld.org/elections.

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Edited by Ellen H. Badger

This month’s Advice From The Field column is authored by Patti Jones, NAFSA volunteer leader and a retired international educator from Western Illinois University. Patti shares her strategies for obtaining resources to support staff professional development.

Q. How can I best advocate for my team to receive the professional training they need? NAFSA’s conferences offer so much, but I can’t afford to send everyone. What are some supplemental resources or tips to get the most NAFSA bang for our buck?

A: Patti Jones
Advocating for your team is always a necessary activity. Our field demands that professional training include a thorough understanding of policy, regulation, and their applications. This knowledge base requires continual updating. Very few people outside of the international office fully understand the nature of our work or its complexity. That is, until an external immigration review by a federal agency or a risk management audit of an education abroad program provides a massive reality check for administration.

Advocacy is all about the influence you have at your institution, and your ability to convince decision makers to consider your course of action. There are two parts to getting the support you need for your team: providing the justification for it, and finding the most economical way to deliver it. Here are some suggestions for strengthening your proposal and getting more “bang for your buck.”

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By Samantha Potempa and Jodi Simek

Networking is one of the most impactful ways you can build your professional expertise and effectiveness. But networking can sometimes take a backseat to some of the more immediate or urgent demands that we encounter in our jobs.

That’s why we would like to highlight some of the networking opportunities from NAFSA that can coincide with—and enhance—the responsibilities of busy international education professionals. We will explore four networking opportunities (of the many NAFSA has to offer) and share thoughts from some of our peers who have already taken advantage of these great resources to help build their professional network.

Knowledge Community and Interest Group Discussions
A great way to connect with fellow NAFSAns while at your desk is through NAFSA’s Knowledge Communities (KCs) and interest groups. Not only are the KCs a great way to share information, but they are also a way to keep up to date on issues and trends in the field while obtaining a variety of perspectives.

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By Lesley Robinson

I have nine NAFSA Annual Conferences under my belt, and only now do I feel like I have my post-conference routine down. For me, the NAFSA Annual Conference is always an exhilarating whirlwind of thought-provoking sessions, reception invitations, exhibit hall strategizing, business card collecting, and extreme networking.

With NAFSA’s Regional Conference in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to share some of the tips and tricks I have learned for maximizing professional networking both during the conference and when you are in the “post-conference glow.” You know what the “post-conference glow” is, right? It’s that feeling after a great event where your follow-up checklist is long and your energy and enthusiasm is sustained by all those great “ah ha” moments and new connections.

During the Conference

1. Make it a game to give away at least five business cards

Business cards have no value if you don’t pass them out – or collect them. I consider myself a high-functioning extrovert, and yet 50 plus conferences later, I still consider it one of the hardest things in the world to walk into a room of strangers, make small talk, and then try to not only give, but take business cards from contacts you’ve only just met. I challenge myself to try to connect with at least five people throughout the conference. Conference card pick-up lines can include: “Have you been to any memorable sessions?” or “How far did you travel to get here?”

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