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Diversity Abroad Focuses on Supporting Incoming International Students

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 6, 2017

Diversity Abroad is excited to introduce members of our International Student & Scholar Services Working Group. This group -- comprised of eight global education professionals with experience supporting inbound international students -- has committed to working together this fall to guide Diversity Abroad in developing resources to assist International Student Services Professionals facilitate meaningful global exchanges across the full range of diverse perspectives represented on our campuses in the US and abroad.
 

Working Group Members

Jacquis Watters (Co-Chair) 
Diversity Educator - Stevens Institute of Technology

Jacquis Watters (she, her, hers) currently serves as the Diversity Educator in the Division of Student Affairs at Stevens Institute of Technology. As a Higher Education practitioner, she’s blended discussions on the intersectionality of social identities such as race, gender, and sexuality into international education through her involvement in Diversity Abroad Network and Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Conference on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Education; as well as, through national and international conference presentations.

 

Monica J. Bryant, Ph.D.
International Student Career Development Specialist - Rutgers University

As a career development specialist and liaison to international students at Rutgers University, I provide counseling services and programming to all students; however, my primary focus is to develop programs and services to address the needs of international students, particularly those with interests in the Arts & Communication; Business, Financial Services, and Logistics; and Education and Public & Human Services career clusters.

My work is informed by more than 25 years of experience in the field of career planning and development in higher education. Thus, my experiences have enabled me to understand the career needs and challenges of a diverse student body. I also have worked in government, human services, and business. I hold a doctorate in organizational systems (focusing on behavior, development, and learning), a master's degree in human development, and bachelor's in psychology. I have a strong interest in experiential education, particularly in the context for cultural understanding, leadership development for civic and community building, and program assessment and evaluation using ROI Methodology. When I am not working as a career counselor, I serve as an adjunct instructor and continue my study and practice in Reiki healing—Western Usui and Jikiden Reiki styles. 

 
 
Duwon Clark
Dean of Global Initiatives - Fisk University

Duwon Clark is the Dean of Global Initiatives at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he manages study abroad and international student services. Duwon previously served as the coordinator for international student services at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO. He earned a BS in political science with a concentration in international relations from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, FL. He is now pursuing a master’s in public administration at the University of Missouri. Clark has studied in Ghana and traveled as a research and immersion scholar to several other countries, including China and Brazil by way of FAMU’s Center for Global Security and International Affairs (CGSIA). Duwon is a former Charles B. Rangel scholar and advocate for comprehensive internationalization at historically black colleges and universities.

 

Elizabeth Coder
International Student Services Coordinator - Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar

Elizabeth Coder is originally from Omaha, Nebraska and graduated from Auburn University in the great state of Alabama with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. (Go Tigers!) She went on to receive her Master’s degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. After completing her Master's, she served three terms with AmeriCorps, where she developed a love of experiential learning, social justice, and service-learning. After AmeriCorps, Elizabeth began her international education career, working on Semester at Sea and in first-year study abroad programs at Northeastern University and Elon University, working with 300 first-year students in five different countries. She currently serves as the International Student Services Coordinator at Carnegie Mellon University's campus in Doha, Qatar where she oversees international student services, study abroad, and campus exchange. She is also currently a doctoral student in Comparative and International Development Education at the University of Minnesota where she is planning to research the intersection between the intercultural learning that happens internationally in study abroad programs and the intercultural learning that happens domestically in diversity education centers on college campuses.

 

Barbara Kappler, Ph.D
Assistant Dean and Director of International Student and Scholar Services - Univ of MN

Barbara Kappler, Ph.D., is Assistant Dean and Director of International Student and Scholar Services with Global Programs and Strategy Alliance and a member of the Graduate Faculty with the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.  Barbara has 25 years of experience in facilitating and teaching  in intercultural communication, leading and managing programs, and conducting research. She enjoys writing and is co-editor of NAFSA’s 2017 3rd edition of Learning Across Cultures and co-author of three guides for students, staff, and language instructors on Maximizing Study Abroad, as well as a book on communication styles. Her career at the University has been an exciting blend of program and leadership experiences, curriculum development, intercultural communication research, teaching, and working with international students.

 

Lee Seedorff
Assistant Provost for International Programs - University of Iowa

Reporting to the Assistant Provost for International Programs, Lee has day-to-day administrative oversight of ISSS.  She sets advising policies and procedures, interprets and applies federal regulations and other immigration guidelines, oversees the ISSS budget, and works closely with University of Iowa administration and other programs regarding internationalization issues.  Lee has considerable experience providing intercultural training and programming for students, staff, and faculty including use of the Intercultural Development Inventory.  A member of ISSS since 1999, she served as Regulatory Ombudsperson for Region IV of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, liaising with schools in the region and the Department of Homeland Security/Department of State.  She was also involved with NAFSA for a number of years providing training for advisors new to the field, and currently serves as the Region IV International Education Leadership Rep.  As a result of her long-term expertise in F and J regulations, she has provided expert witness opinions in legal cases and published an article on international student employment co-authored with Amanda McFadden from the Pomerantz Career Center in New Directions for Student Services in 2017.  Lee has a B.A. with double majors in Anthropology and South Asian Religions, a minor in Sanskrit Language and Literature, and a Master of Social Work, all from the University of Iowa.  She has studied in India and St. Lucia, and spent time in Mexico, Canada, Thailand, and Singapore.  She has studied the Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, and Sanskrit languages, and made less successful attempts to learn Chinese (Mandarin) and German.

 

Carrie Trimble, Ph.D.
A
ssociate Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Center for International Education - Millikin University

Carrie Trimble is an Associate Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Center for International Education at Millikin University with graduate degrees in Communication (M.A. From University of Illinois Springfield) and Mass Media (Ph.D. from Michigan State University) and a graduate certificate in International Marketing (Boston University). She joined the Millikin University faculty in 2011. Her area of expertise is consumer response to marketing communications like cause-related marketing campaigns and branded social media efforts. She’s a grammando who keeps her class presentations full of contemporary examples and energy. She advises International students who study at Millikin and U.S. students preparing to study abroad as well as teaching Marketing and International Business courses. She’s taught travel courses in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Viet Nam, China, Italy, and Walt Disney World. Fascinated by digital media and media technologies, she can’t wait to see how the future of communication unfolds.

 

Claire Witko
Director of Programs - Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (AGB)

Claire Witko is the Director of Programs at AGB, where she is responsible for the association’s national programs, seminars, and other programmatic initiatives for governing boards and institutional leaders.  Most recently, she was the Director of Summer and Non-Degree Programs at The George Washington University, managing over 600 international and domestic high school, undergraduate and adult students each summer. Prior to her work at GW, Claire was the Executive Director of the South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP), a non-profit that brings together diverse university students from South Africa for leadership development and peace building. Originally a native of Chicago, Claire graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Cultural Studies, received an MA in International Education from American University and has also completed her MBA at Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business. Previously, Claire has run international student programs at the UNCF Special Programs Corporation and the American University, Washington College of Law, and was the Assistant Manager of Development for the National Symphony Orchestra. She and her husband love working on their house and cuddling with their adorable pup, Hubert. 

 

Tags:  International Exchange  International Students 

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International Education Issues to Watch During Obama’s 2nd Term

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

After nearly a year of intense presidential political campaigning, U.S. voters have officially selected President Obama for a second term in the White House. With a host of big issues to tackle, the Obama administration will not only be faced with challenges like handling an economic recovery and improving bipartisan relationships in Congress, they will also need to  manage changes in education policies, immigration reform, foreign policy efforts and more.  With so many priorities to manage, what could Obama’s second term mean for international educational professionals, especially for those interested in expanding education abroad opportunities for traditionally underrepresented populations?

Based on the most recent discussions about the impact that the election results would have on higher education, there are four areas that may be of particular interest for international education professionals to watch over the next few months. These issues have the potential to change, challenge, and improve the way education abroad experts pursue the goals of making international opportunities available to a wider audience of students and improving international student services on campuses.

Immigration Policies

DREAM Act Legislation

Maryland has become the 12th state to allow in-state tuition rates for undocumented students who qualify. This comes in the wake of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act that allows many undocumented young people who arrived in the U.S. when they were minors the chance to remain in the U.S. Not only do these two examples suggest that people in the U.S. are interested in a more comprehensive reform on immigration policies, they also suggest that there will be a growing number of diverse students, particularly Hispanics/Latinos, who may begin to seek out other opportunities on campus to get engaged including education abroad programming. Advisers from all departments will need to know how to access resources and information to support these students on campus, especially if the federal DREAM Act legislation is re-introduced to Congress.

Enhancements to Work and Student Visa Requirements

There has been much discussion about offering a path to residency in the U.S. for international students who graduate with advanced degrees. Though both parties favor policies that would allow these graduates to stay in the U.S. to increase the national competitiveness in research and development, passing legislation on these policies is often held up by a greater need to pursue comprehensive immigration reform. Should action be taken in this area, institutions of higher education may look to expand international student recruiting efforts and increase focus on research opportunities.

Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

Affirmative action lawsuits have been around nearly as long as affirmative action policies were first set in motion in the 1960s. The latest case to be brought to the attention of the Supreme Court is that of Abigail Fisher vs the University of Texas, Austin. This case has the potential to completely eliminate race/ethnicity from consideration during the college admissions process subsequently challenging institutions to find alternative ways to recruit ethnic/racial minorities to their campuses. This is no easy feat, and should the case rule in favor of eliminating racial preferences in admissions decisions there is a strong possibility that colleges and universities will face several challenges in ensuring students of color are represented on their campuses. This may present new challenges for how international educators reach out to and retain students of color for education abroad opportunities.

Pell Grant Program

Threats to cut the existing Pell Grant Program and modifications in federal student aid in general have greatly affected the higher education community. Federal aid is imperative to making college accessible to low-income and first-generation students because it has provided the financial support needed to cover the basic costs of attending college. This has allowing a more diverse population of students to get engaged in activities outside of the classroom and limiting access to these resources could also limit the diversity of students on campus. If funding remains steady or even increases, this may mean new opportunities for education abroad professionals to get more underrepresented students involved in international programming. There are an increasing number of study abroad providers that now offer matching funding for Pell Grant eligible students and this may create more demand for additional programming.

Expansion of Community Colleges

In 2011, the Obama administration launched the Building American Skills Through Community Colleges an initiative that is intended to expand education and training opportunities for more US students. Now only has the administration committed to more support for community colleges to train students, it has places a particular emphasis on preparing the population in high demand technical jobs that are increasingly global in nature. This opens a unique opportunity not only to engage community college students in education abroad activities, it could open opportunities for STEM students to explore international programming also. Moreover, this and other federal initiatives are working on expanding opportunities to attract larger international student populations to these campuses. This not only could offer more funding opportunities for the institutions, it could also offer opportunities for on-campus dialogue and engagement between US and international students, in turn promoting more cultural exchange on campus.

These are but a few of the policies that could influence the direction of international programming and internationalization efforts on US campuses over the course of the next few years.

If you would like to share your thoughts, email us at members@diversitynetwork.org.

Tags:  community colleges  education abroad  Funding  global education  inclusion  international education  International Exchange  Obama  resources  Underrepresented Students 

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Having the Right Skills

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

International education is increasingly becoming the primary means by which societies will bridge the cultural and linguistic divides not only in the United States, but globally. With the challenges shared by societies being global and interdisciplinary in nature, and so too are the solutions.  The world demands a competent workforce able to integrate, and thrive in different societies through experience.  To achieve this demand, professionals in education must overcome the issue of lacking awareness of an international education in every class room and campus. Lack of knowledge in the opportunities to learn about and experience other cultures stifles the abilities of this generation to embrace the world of tomorrow.

On May 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Secretary-General Angel Gurría stated that skills have become the global currency of the 21st century. Without proper investment in skills, people languish in the margins of society where technological progress does not translate to economic growth, and the countries can no longer compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global society. A globally influenced education allows students to cultivate and harness a unique set of skills to compete globally.  It calls on educators to uphold the highest educational standard, challenging growing leaders by instilling best practices of disciplined learning, consistency in excellence and appreciation for the diversity we all embrace.

This is no easy task. What should all U.S. students be expected to know and understand about the world? What skills and attributes will students need to confront future problems, which will be global in scope? What do scholars from international relations disciplines and experienced practitioners of global education believe students should know and how can these insights be best incorporated into existing standards? For those who have studied abroad or had any resident international experience, how can those lessons learned and experience be harnessed and reinforced as students return to their respective home, professional and professional communities?  The solution includes but by any means is not limited to duties of professionals in education across disciplines to:

  • Increasing capacities of schools and colleges by improving access to high-quality international educational experiences by integrate internationally focused courses within the current learning curriculum.
  • Increasing the number and diversity of students who study and intern abroad and encouraging students and institutions to choose nontraditional study-abroad locations.
  • Help under-represented U.S. institutions offer and promote study-abroad opportunities for their students
  • Actively promote study abroad and encourage students, teachers, and citizens at all levels to study within the U.S. and vise a versa

We must be aware of the opportunities in order to take advantage and utilize them to maximum capacity by introducing international relations, languages and cultural studies to the classroom and reinforcing that teaching with firsthand experience through study, volunteering and teaching abroad.  Enhancing the abilities and skillsets of a generation of individuals to dispel preconceived notions about any culture and society, effectively communicate and appreciate diversity moves this generation closer to tackling global challenges. 

The Diversity Network sends its sincere thanks and appreciation to Zubida Bahkeit for sharing her thoughts on the most pressing issue facing international education today.  If you would like to share your thoughts, email us at members@diversitynetwork.org.

Tags:  Diversity  education abroad  global education  inclusion  International Exchange  language  professional skills  research  underrepresented students 

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International Exchange: Stepping Away from Cultural Tourism

Posted By Lily Lopez-McGee, Thursday, December 9, 2010
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stepping out of a long tour bus, a group of American students work their way into the common area of a small non-profit in San Lucas, Nicaragua. After hearing the organization’s director speak about its work with the local community and the challenges facing Nicaraguan youth, the students ask a few questions and are hurried back out to the bus to make their next stop. The dialogue stops there. The students go on with their courses and are unlikely to discuss the organization or their experience again.

In preparing for international study, students are generally advised into setting academic and professional goals for what they would like to gain from their experience. Though these are worthwhile goals, rarely do you find that emphasis is placed on true immersion into the local culture.Instead what is often the case is that students are conditioned to act as cultural tourists.This means that though they live near local students, they interact primarily with other foreigners.This is in part due to the pre-departure readiness of students, but it is also a result of program design and implementation. In an ideal scenario, a program provider would integrate true immersion through activities that allow study abroad students to peer into the real lives of their local peers.

A relatively new documentary titled Crossing Borders demonstrates one director’s attempt to create such an environment for American students.The goal of the film is to “support the development of intercultural empathy and critical thinking skills, and initiate dialogue between students of different cultures” outside of the classroom. Director Arnd Wächter’s Crossing Borders documentary challenges the traditional approach of study abroad programs that place American students with other American students, a method that rarely results in students engaging young people from the host country. International exchange should be more than simply taking classes in a different country; it should be an opportunity to truly exchange ideas, experiences and beliefs to better understand our differences, and more importantly, share our similarities.

Through the documentary, Wachter tries “to overcome the artificial separation between ‘Us’ and ‘Them.’” In a system where economic, diplomatic, and military exchanges require a deeper cultural understanding of one another, international programs should work to expose participants to other cultures and ways of thinking not only through academic training but also through personal interactions with the local community. Homestays and cultural site visits alone cannot take the place of thoughtful conversations between study abroad students and their peers in the host country.

In addition to offering students on both sides the opportunity to explore other perspectives, students are able to reflect on their own beliefs, experiences, and ideas - something Karen Rodriguez describes as “an awareness of how one is informed by one’s own culture and makes sense of cultural differences subjectively.” These skills - empathy and critical reflection - though hard to measure, are imperative to a student’s successful entry into a global job market.

As educators, program providers, advisers, and mentors, we must encourage young people to have these conversations. There is a great opportunity to change the way young people see the world and communicate with those who think differently. Moving away from cultural tourism and stepping toward models of true cultural immersion will have a positive long-term impact on the next generation of international leaders.

Lily Lopez-McGee currently serves as Program Manager with the UNCF Special Programs Corporation in the Institute for International Public Policy division. Among her many duties, Ms. Lopez-McGee manages student internships, language institutes and social media outreach.  She is fluent in Spanish and has traveled through parts of Latin America and Western Europe. She is a graduate of the University of Washington Evans School for Public Affairs, where she earned her Master's of Public Administration.

Tags:  100000 Strong Initiative  AID Roadmap  career  China  culture shock  Diversity  International Exchange  International Students 

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Funding for International Education: Why It's Important

Posted By Lily Lopez-McGee, Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

With tuition rates on the rise and budget cuts to nearly all areas of spending in higher education, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that international education programming support has come under increased criticism and funding is at a serious risk of being reduced. Some political candidates have even stated publicly their intent to cut spending in the some “75 internationally focused programs that fall under the U.S, Department of State and U.S. Department of Education”. If nothing else has, this recent attack should mobilize professionals in the field to effectively communicate the importance of international education programming to the general public while ensuring that current support is being used effectively.

If we are to effectively defend against current threats to international education spending cuts, though, we must first take a serious look at the source driving criticism. We must face the reality that we are experiencing one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression.This crise has been felt in all sectors of society and many of our offices have already experienced cuts to staff, budget, travel, etc.However despite this reality we must also remind ourselves and others that we have an economy that is inextricably connected to global markets. That means we have to develop and train language -proficient, culturally competent professionals. Furthermore, we should better champion the message that proclaims the current funding for international education programs is crucial to maintaining the U.S. economic strength and security.

There are certainly people who will be skeptical in hearing this message, however it is clear that if we don't fund opportunities that prepare U.S. students to be competitive in the global market, other nations will look to fill that void. There are 670,000 international students from across the globe studying at our institutions of higher learning in the U.S. alone. This number far exceeds the 260,000 U.S. students we send abroad annually (IIE 2009 Open Doors Report), a figure that clearly indicates the need to expand opportunities for students to go abroad.

As a nation, we need to encourage students to pursue language and study abroad that will prepare them for a globally-competitive job market. The current Open Doors figures highlight that we must also place particular focus on expanding these opportunities to underrepresented student groups. As a field, international education should not only expand how many students we send abroad, but also widen the types of students who have access to international opportunities. There is a vital need to send students abroad who represent the diversity reflected in our nation, and now is certainly not the time to reduce funding that currently supports those initiatives (ex. Gilman ScholarshipRangel Fellowship, and Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship).

After we have spread the message of why funding for international education programming is important, next we have to re-examine how we are utilizing the current support we receive.

Similarly, to justify that the current spending is meaningful in these tough economic times, we need to make sure current funding is working efficiently and demonstrates that students are benefiting academically, socially and professionally from these programs. We need to provide concrete evidence, in the form of program analysis that highlight the real impact of these programs. Programs should be evaluated in a meaningful way that holds faculty and providers accountable for the successes and shortcomings of their programs, and not simply to produce data. If we are to protect the future of international education funding, we must take the necessary, sometimes difficult, steps to ensure that every dollar spent on such programs is effectively being used.

International education is critical to developing the next generation of leaders, and we as international educators need to support initiatives that protect current spending while promoting innovative approaches to attracting more public and private support in these areas.

Lily Lopez-McGee currently serves as Program Manager with the UNCF Special Programs Corporation in the Institute for International Public Policy division. Among her many duties, Ms. Lopez-McGee manages student internships, language institutes and social media outreach.  She is fluent in Spanish and has traveled through parts of Latin America and Western Europe. She is a graduate of the University of Washington Evans School for Public Affairs, where she earned her Master's of Public Administration.

Tags:  career  Funding  global education  International Exchange  Outreach  professional skills  Resources  Scholarships 

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