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Diversity Abroad Conference Attendees Share Their Insights

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018

Carol Reyes | Director of Global Student Programs | Miami Dade College

1. Which Diversity Abroad conferences have you attended? Tell us about your experience(s).

I was lucky enough to attend the 2016 and 2017 Diversity Abroad conferences in a number of capacities: In addition to being part of the 2016 DA Conference Planning Committee and a previous DACA Task Force Member, I am a two-time presenter and I was last year’s emcee! During my first Diversity Abroad Conference, I also represented Miami Dade College as the winner of the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award (EDIIE), and during my second conference, I received the Diversity Abroad Innovation Award for a study abroad program created specifically for homeless and foster students on our campuses.

2. What are the most valuable aspects of the conference, in your view?

In my experience, the most valuable aspects of the conference are its size and its focus. Even though the Diversity Abroad conferences continue to grow each year, it is still manageable enough that participants are able to create meaningful bonds, have in-depth conversations, and can engage with colleagues from around the world in a more intimate setting. The conference seems to be designed very intentionally and, although the conference offers a plethora of presentations and speakers, it is not an overwhelming affair. In terms of its focus, I appreciate that Diversity Abroad focuses on diversity, inclusion and access, and does it well – it also touches on those three points in a number of ways and is one of the few conferences that invites student panelists to share their experiences with colleagues in the field.

3. How have you applied learning/networking from the conference in your current work?

My participation in Diversity Abroad’s first conference lead to me taking a significant role in the second conference both as the conference’s main emcee, presenter, DACA Task Force Member and Innovation Award Competitor. The access to colleagues in the higher education, non-profit and government fields, has helped me create a much larger network that I can call upon during the year when I am thinking of building new partnerships or launching new programs. My participation in the conferences has also given me national exposure and has helped me become a thought leader in many topics, including DACA and undocumented students in study abroad.

4. What suggestions do you have for how someone can make the most of attending a Diversity Abroad Conference?

I would suggest that attendees review the list of colleagues coming to the conference from around the world, research them and reach out to different people to set up coffee chats or short meetings. I would also suggest that people attend a presentation or a panel that is unrelated to their current work but that seems interesting for some reason – this is a great opportunity to learn something new and to hear from some of the top leaders in our field. Finally, Diversity Abroad gives members and non-members many ways to get involved throughout the year: If you want to become a leader in a specific topic, join a Task Force. If you are interested in publishing an article or a more academic research piece, reach out and ask about the ability to submit it for publishing. If you want a challenge and want to get involved in planning one of the top conferences in the country, join a conference planning committee. Diversity Abroad truly gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in familiar or unfamiliar topics and grow as international educators – why only attend the conference, when you could be learning all year long? 

5. Who do you believe can benefit the most from attending the Diversity Abroad Conference?

The beauty of the Diversity Abroad Conference is that it has something for everyone – whether you work at a community college, a minority serving institution, a private university, a public research institution, a liberal arts college… if you are committed to increasing access and reducing barriers for underrepresented students, then this is the conference for you.

7. What excites you about the 2018 conference (if anything)?

I am most excited about the Women of Color Empowerment and Leadership Lunch & Learn (Sunday, April 9th 12:30-1:30pm). As a Hispanic woman in the international education field, I sometimes feel underrepresented myself, and I look forward to hearing from other women of color about their challenges and struggles, as well as their success stories and hopes for the future of the field. As international educators, we are the driving force behind the international education industry, so empowering and educating ourselves is just as important as attending sessions to learn about the newest trends and hot topics.

 

Mark Lenhart | Executive Director | CET Academic Programs


1. Which Diversity Abroad conferences have you attended? Tell us about your experience(s).
 
I’ve attended every one! It’s been exciting to watch the conference grow and set new standards every year. I also enjoy returning and reconnecting with colleagues I have met over the years.
 
2. What are the most valuable aspects of the conference, in your view?
 
I love the fact that this is a small conference focused on one topic—diversifying global education. The people who attend are all committed to sharing best practices as we pursue this goal, and I always leave the conference with new ideas and solutions. I think the Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) is a critical conference element, and it’s something that sets Diversity Abroad apart. No other study abroad conference gives such a platform to students. Of course conference attendees like me learn so much from our interactions with GSLS students. But the program is also transformational for the students themselves. We’ve seen that to be true for CET alumni who have participated.
 
3. How have you applied learning/networking from the conference in your current work?
 
I think I have a much clearer understanding of the issues, and that knowledge helps in my day-to-day decisions about student or staff policies. We made Diversity & Inclusion training the focus of an annual meeting, and we’ve used new knowledge from hiring and marketing workshops in our Diversity & Inclusion efforts.
 
4. Who do you believe can benefit the most from attending the Diversity Abroad Conference?
 
I can’t think of anyone working in higher education or global education who WOULDN’T benefit!
 
5. What suggestions do you have for how someone can make the most of attending a Diversity Abroad Conference?
 
Don’t skip the sessions! They’re really a great source of information and inspiration. Also, this is one of the friendliest conferences I’ve attended—a great place to walk up to strangers and introduce yourself.
 
6. If relevant, how have your students benefited from attending the Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS)?
 
In many ways the GSLS experience is an extension of students’ study abroad experiences—it helps students step outside their comfort zone and think about things from a different angle. CET alumni have gained confidence, new contacts, and a sense of purpose.

 

 

 

 
 

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