Monday, September 14, 2020

CEA and Dickinson College Amplifying Perspectives from Abroad - A Live Moderated Discussion on Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 10:00am CST

This coming Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 10:00am CST I will be moderating a live online discussion related two IHEC Blog guest posts on the topic of “Amplifying Perspectives from Abroad”.  

I will moderate this live virtual discussion among all four of the guest bloggers:

You can register for this live moderated discussion here.

Related IHEC Blog posts:

Future-Forward Community Building in Education Abroad during COVID-19: Recognizing our Power and Positionality and Amplifying and Listening to Marginalized Voices – Part 1 (August 13, 2020)

Future-Forward Community Building in Education Abroad during COVID-19: Recognizing our Power and Positionality and Amplifying and Listening to Marginalized Voices – Part 2 Overseas Voices (September 1, 2020)

I have been looking forward to this live discussion for quite some time and I hope IHEC Blog readers will be able to join!

Friday, September 11, 2020

I spy in the corner of our kitchen window on a chilly overcast afternoon on Friday, September 11, 2020...

Three of these items are related to international education

- My son’s spider plant from second grade four years ago!
- Christ the Redeemer nick-nack I bought for my wife somewhere up at that summit in Rio
- Small elephant that my daughter gifted the family from her pre-eighth grade, eleven day service-tourist trip to Ecuador
- A ‘Handmade in the Holy Land’ gift I gave to my wife that I picked up in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, Jerusalem
- Artsy cross given to one of the kids...either at birth or baptism from a family member
- A little figurine of a Saint...I think it’s the one that you bury in your front yard to help sell your house but I really have no idea

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Abroadia "Global Thoughts" Speaker Series - September 15th at 2:00pm EST

I've been a fan of Tom Millington and his perspectives on the field of international higher education for a long time and I was honored when he invited me to be a part of the Abroadia "Global Thoughts" Speaker Series. I look forward to joining Tom next Tuesday, September 15th at 2:00pm EST for a discussion on our field.  You can register for mine (and future) "Global Thoughts" here and you can learn more about Abroadia here. Below is a screenshot of the description of the Abroadia "Global Thoughts" Speaker Series.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Future-Forward Community Building in Education Abroad during COVID-19: Recognizing our Power and Positionality and Amplifying and Listening to Marginalized Voices - Part 2 Overseas Voices

Part 2 Overseas Voices: Redefining and Reinforcing Community Partnerships in Education Abroad

We are very grateful to have been invited into this conversation between U.S. and onsite education abroad stakeholders. It is an excellent way to utilize the changes brought forward by the global pandemic to start redefining those key terminologies underlined by our American colleagues, Samantha Brandauer and Lou Berends, in Part 1 of this blog series as well as regulate the volume of our voices: we, onsite, should perhaps communicate better and “louder” to be heard and trusted, whether we are working on the provider side of education abroad, or representing a U.S. based college or university.

The two following “voices”, Julia CarnineResident Director for the Dickinson in France program and Monica Francioso, Academic Director at CEA Florence, are expressing our true life experiences as we lived them. We hope to illustrate how we are part of both our local  communities in Toulouse and Florence and our education abroad community in the U.S. Our goal is to highlight what we have learned to strengthen and connect both communities moving forward, ultimately leading to more equity and inclusion.

Also, Part 3 will be a live moderated online discussion and is scheduled for Thursday, September 17, 2020 11:00 am EDT (more information and register here)

On Feb 24th our U.S. students returned from weekend travel back to Toulouse, France, their immersion education abroad program site. Indeed, to be immersed locally means to live with local families, take local transportation to the university, shop the markets all reinforcing the central goal of French language and cultural socialization. Yet lately, we have worked at odds with the increasing weekend student travel trend. Due to accessible low-cost air flights, and despite the programs’ commitment to relationship building with host families, students often spend much time discovering European capitals, rapidly checking destinations off their bucket list. This February was no different. Several students returned to Toulouse to their hosts’ homes from Italy and regions experiencing what we now know is the COVID-19 outbreak. Then rather surreptitiously, Monday morning, the French government laid out self-quarantine recommendations for those returning from specific Italian regions. In our program, this meant that six students having made it back from Italy at the last possible minute Sunday night, should not attend courses at their local University campus the next day, nor for 14 days ahead… and had potentially brought ‘home’ more than Instragrammed souvenirs of their Italian travels, rather had they unknowingly returned with a dubious, infectious health condition?

Calling the students out of classes, informing hosts of the precarious safety situation, sourcing appropriate lodging became urgent preoccupations. The decision was made to remove students from the homes of their hosts. Once students were moved into hotel rooms, we feared that many levels of damage had been done to an already fragile ‘homestay’ social experiment. Hosts are integral members of our community, opening their doors, their bedrooms and bathrooms, refrigerators and wacky family dynamics to student adventurers. Now students were forced to be alone in a foreign environment, left without their cultural guides— students and hosts were scared and frustrated. Research and many personal anecdotes show that a highly functioning homestay can be the source of a lifetime of learning and deep cultural understanding, and whereas this is not always possible, we know after 30 odd years of experience, that by actively cultivating community, listening deeply, engaging hosts as partners/learners on the voyage of intercultural understanding, all parties benefit immeasurably. Our choice to quarantine students (fortunately, none of which succumbed to COVID symptoms) was as much as protecting students as it was for valuing and preserving the healthy family life of their hosts. Given our long history here in Toulouse, we know our hosts intimately, watch their children grow and leave the home, undergo job changes, lose grandparents while growing old themselves. These shared life markers not only represent cultural attitudes and symbolize French values that can be harnessed for student learning; more so, such lived experiences are integral parts of our extended team, enlivening empathy and celebrating our interdependence across borders.

Operating as an immersion study program means careful investment locally, developing trust, honest dialogue and good humor around sometimes tense cultural exchange. In addition, it means clear ethical considerations whereby ‘authentic’ local experiences, (some of which also benefit from being incredibly photogenic and highly memorable!), are understood first as actual moments in the daily lives of local people. Contrary to education abroad mythology, local hosts are not simply screensavers nor extras in the background of a whirlwind travel itinerary. When several hosts dropped off cooked meals and special treats to their frightened, isolated, quarantined host students; when they texted and called every day, this reinforced their investment in these students as members of a community. This scary experience brought them closer to their student(s) and opened many channels of communication and we saw the overall value of our labor-intensive, chosen approach and how it will guide us through COVID and beyond.  

Among lessons learned during COVID-19 is to embrace the deep contributions of local people, in this case, our hosts in our intentionally-formed Toulouse community. During this short but intense crisis, our hosts reinforced student’s coping mechanisms through concrete examples, remaining informed, taking care of their family (including their student) and thereby assuaging bigger fears running so rampantly about.

As U.S. centered education abroad moves forward, it needs to reinforce and develop student learning objectives around this kind of community building.  Putting local relationships at the center, directing students toward this rich component and guiding them to increased soft skills around interdependence, cultural humility and empathy.

February 25th, 2020. Florence, Italy had its first official COVID-19 case and everything started spinning. A large U.S. university  that operates in town decided out of the blue to suspend classes and, on our part, decisions needed to be made fast. We were at a loss with no examples to follow since we were at the forefront of what then became, in just a few weeks, the “new normal”: Spring 2020 moved online and all students were sent back to the States. At first, though, we made the decision to suspend classes (a Spring break was never so welcomed) and while we were trying to decide what to do when the suspension was over, students started to receive emails from their home campuses asking them to return to the U.S. immediately, with no explanation on how this was going to work for them. We, onsite, were as confused as students were; we had no idea that students were going to receive these communications, we had no conversations with their home campuses during this compelling time. As a result, we had no answers for our students and we, onsite and at headquarters, had to find the best solution while navigating many different U.S. college and university responses to the rapidly changing situation.

One question has become, since then, the classic elephant in the room: are we, onsite staff, part of a community? What type of community? Our focus has always been our headquarters and the local communities - university partners onsite, vendors, guides, faculty members, local students, host families - and these partnerships have, over the years, become solid and are based on trust. This helps us, onsite, push the boundaries of what can be offered and how it can be offered to our students; it helps us to be more inclusive and learn new ways to accommodate various requests. What still requires work and commitment, is creating a broader sense of community that includes us, providers onsite, and the various American colleges and universities that send students abroad. The example given at the beginning should be seen as our first lesson learned from COVID-19: Headquarters does an excellent job in creating, building, and fostering partnerships with U.S. universities; however, there must be a way to make us, onsite, more visible and to have a stronger voice in the conversation with our partners. Doing so will strengthen those partnerships even more and it will allow us all to push boundaries, create and innovate courses, programs, and cultural activities that will work better for our students, their degrees and their experiences abroad as well as for us and the wellbeing of our communities.

Monday, August 24, 2020

TLS KC Proposals for 2021 Annual Conference

Following is a copy and paste of a message I received from NAFSA asking me to help promote the submission of TLS KC Proposals for the 2021 NAFSA Annual Conference in Orlando:

The TLS KC has set up a system to match potential co-presenters this year for the 2021 Annual Conference. If you are still looking for a co-presenter, please take a moment to fill out this quick Presenter Matching Form. We will connect you with potential co-presenters so that you can collaborate in developing and submitting session proposals for the conference.


If you know of others who are still looking, please encourage them to fill out this form as well!


The proposal deadline is next week: Aug. 26, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.


Here are the TLS Content Focus Areas (CFAs) + sub-topics:

CFA: Teaching and Learning in International Education 

(see TLS CFP for full details)

  • Adaptation of intercultural learning to online and virtual formats 
  • Faculty development programs to support new modes of internationalization 
  • The application of Design Thinking – an attempt to redefine problems by finding alternative ways of addressing them -- to international education 
  • Film, digital storytelling and international education 
  • Virtual, AI, and 3DG/4D virtual environments in teaching and learning 
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations between the humanities, social sciences, STEM, and professional fields 
  • Social media and teaching, learning, and scholarship

CFA: Global Issues & Trends

  • Teaching, learning, and scholarship that relate to sustainability, climate change, biology/epidemiology, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and other key global challenges of the 21st century 
  • The ethical and moral challenges around global teaching, learning, and scholarship 
  • Research and assessment on impacts to local/host communities and partners; research and assessment on virtual programming and exchange; reviews of key research and data in the field 
  • New approaches to partnership development 
  • Global learning collaborations across offices, partners, and consortia 

CFA: Diversity & Inclusion

  • Critical and post-colonial approaches to teaching and learning 
  • New approaches to topics such as intercultural competence or global learning 
  • Issues of identity, belonging, and difference 
  • Regional or area studies, especially on Latin American and Caribbean approaches to knowledge 
  • Diversity and inclusion in international education research

CFA: Professional Development

  • Research agendas, gaps, challenges, and opportunities in the field 
  • Leadership and professional development strategies for scholar-practitioners 
  • Research and data “laboratories” and master classes to encourage innovation, collaboration, and creative design • Publication tips and strategies 

CFA: Comprehensive Internationalization

  • How teaching, learning, and scholarship in the field can be infused into institutional strategy (e.g. through accreditation plans, assessments, institutional research and decision making, pedagogy and curriculum) 
  • The use of research/data in policy or strategy formation, or in university management 
  • Best practices in curriculum internationalization and global learning 
  • Innovations in internationalization at home programming and policies 

(Note: we are especially in need of submissions focused on the last three CFAs from the TLS perspective: Diversity & Inclusion, Professional Development, and Comprehensive Internationalization)


I know that many of our colleagues aren’t yet certain about their capacity to attend in person in 2021, but we encourage them to submit a proposal anyway! There is a lot that can happen over the next 9 months! (Also, it is possible to retract a proposal, but it is not possible to add a proposal after the deadline.)

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Future-Forward Community Building in Education Abroad during COVID-19: Recognizing our Power and Positionality and Amplifying and Listening to Marginalized Voices - Part 1

The following is a guest post by Samantha Brandauer, Associate Provost and Executive Director of the Center for Global Study and Engagement at Dickinson College and Lou Berends, Vice President of Academic Affairs at CEA. I'm pleased to post their piece to IHEC BlogAs noted below, this is the first of a two part IHEC Blog post series followed by a moderated online discussion, which begins with a U.S. based perspective and then invites the perspectives from two education abroad colleagues in Europe. Also, Part 3 will be a live moderated online discussion and is scheduled for Thursday, September 17, 2020 11:00 am EDT (more information and register here)

Future-Forward Community Building in Education Abroad during COVID-19: Recognizing our Power and Positionality and Amplifying and Listening to Marginalized Voices - Part 1

We, Samantha Brandauer, Associate Provost and Executive Director of the Center for Global Study and Engagement at Dickinson College and Lou Berends, Vice President of Academic Affairs at CEA, have been collaborating over the last several years to examine, explore and critique how the field of education abroad and international educators can lead to creating more equitable, inclusive and sustainable communities. If we are not working toward larger and more global systemic issues of inequity with local resonance, such as access to education, social justice, racism and climate change, for example, international educators instead serve to reinforce and exacerbate the world’s existing inequities and disparities.  COVID-19 has shone a light on many of the concepts, critiques, tensions and unanswered questions that the field has been grappling with around community building that involves, engages, and reflects the interests of our many stakeholders abroad (such as partner universities, host families, community-based learning partner organizations, local students, staff and faculty and local venders, to name a few). At the same time, COVID-19 has made it painfully clear that we have a long way to go as U.S. based higher education and education abroad institutions and professionals in recognizing our own power, positionality and responsibilities to our local communities abroad.  

This blog post is aimed at pushing this much needed conversation forward by inviting more people into the discussion.  This is one of a two part series, which starts from a U.S. based perspective - Sam and Lou - and then invites the perspectives from our education abroad colleagues in Europe (Part 2) - Julia Carnine, Resident Director of Dickinson in France and Monica Francioso, CEA’s Academic Director in Florence, Italy.  While this discussion has implications far beyond the global pandemic it stems from us shifting our focus to the responsibilities of U.S. based organizations and institutions toward our global partnerships and communities abroad during COVID-19.  This is especially poignant for us as, in our current roles, we ourselves have been leading and bridging difficult conversations within our own organizations and with long-time staff, faculty and partners at our sites and centers abroad. We recognize that the questions we are asking are complex and that we do not yet have all the answers, but it would be remiss of us to squander this moment.  We need to ask both new and old questions and then invite more marginalized voices into the discussion to help us both refine and meaningfully answer these questions or ask new ones -- and then really listen to the answers and feedback we receive, so that there can be more collective solutions and implementations.  As optimists, we believe this is the time for a transformation about how we reflect, think and ultimately act to achieve our goals for building better, stronger partnerships that in turn create more equitable communities and amplify new perspectives.  

Representing such different education abroad institutional types at very different ends of the spectrum – an education abroad provider and a small, highly selective liberal arts college, we have shared goals that center on global learning in different contexts. Even with these different affiliations we are both committed to these questions, critiques and viewpoints and our footprint in communities all over the globe.  As a field we must be willing to recognize that it is only through our collective efforts that we can make real and lasting change.

These are our current guiding questions:

How do we define community in this context? 

What are the roles and postionalities of U.S.-based organizations and institutions and individual actors? How might they shift in different contexts?

If COVID-19 offers an opportunity for us to rethink and transform the way we build partnerships and community what is our roadmap?

If we are in fact asking for collective transformation of how we build more equitable communities, what are the measures of success?

Essential elements and how they help us begin to answer the big questions:

Whether you are working on the provider proper side of education abroad, or are representing a U.S. based college or university, the following four elements are foundational to initial and long lasting community partnership building: Trust, Collaboration, Strategic Leadership, and Innovation.  These key components all lend themselves toward building more sustainable and just partnerships. At Dickinson, trust has been foundational to maintaining our long-term relationships with local partners all over the world and at home. Through open communication and transparency we have created a campus community that extends beyond the boundaries of campus and Carlisle, PA into the wider world. This broad understanding of where our communities start and end, cemented by trust, has been sustained by mutually beneficial collaborations and enhanced through careful strategic planning that creates an environment ready for innovation.  Coming from a provider perspective like CEA, trust is perhaps the most important aspect that intersects with communication and innovation in order to maintain and strengthen strategic partnerships that align with mission driven goals. Moreover, CEA must navigate hundreds and various institutional landscapes that are varied and nuanced.

During these challenging times that this global pandemic has induced, we as international educators must innovate or risk missing new opportunities for global learning that address and challenge norms within the field that at best have perpetuated inequalities and at their worst have done harm to our long-term partnerships and community members. There is no question that COVID-19 has accelerated the use of technology to facilitate, manage and inculcate international education and exchange. Virtual global learning is not new, but “traditional” ways of studying abroad need to adapt and blend new modalities of teaching and learning to existing pedagogical approaches. We also must recognize that while inviting some more people into global learning, virtual learning also excludes people and communities all over the world (including in the U.S.) who do not have access to the necessary technologies and may lack training capacity as well as confront cultural resistance to online models of learning. One question remains and looms large over fall 2020 and spring 2021: how will providers of international education and U.S. colleges and universities adapt, survive and innovate in the face of unparalleled uncertainty? Certainly the solution lies in acknowledging our own privilege, shifting our focus to justice and equality and re-imagining our partnerships through these lenses.