Monthly Archives: December 2015

3 Facts on New Year’s Resolutions:


December 31st, 2015

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition most commonly practiced by Western countries but also practiced by some countries in the East. A New Year’s resolution is when a person makes a promise to do something that is an act of self-improvement.

1. Making New Year’s resolutions goes back to some 4,000 year ago, when Babylonians celebrated Akitu, a 12-day festival in March when the spring harvest came in. They made promises to their gods at the start of each year and resolved to clear all debts and return any objects borrowed.

2. The Romans, under Emperor Julius Caesar, moved the first day of the year to January 1 in honor of the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. It was in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII set January 1 New Year in concert with the Gregorian calendar and since then it has been the official date to ring in the New Year by most countries. [Source: History]

3. And, in the Medieval times, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.

In this week’s blog, we have invited members of the ACEI family to share their New Year’s resolutions for 2016 and here are a few who were willing to make their resolutions or goal public:

“My New Year’s resolution this year is not to give up anything or start doing things I usually don’t do, but it is to cherish and enjoy things I already do and have.”

~Sanjin Gacina, Senior Credential Evaluator

“My yearly resolution always revolves around: Make every year better than the last.”

~Jennifer Hutnich, Senior Credential Evaluator

“I need to be more patient.  I don’t like to wait in line (markets, restaurants, shops, etc.) and if the lines are long, I don’t buy anything.” 

~Katherine Kang, Senior Credential Evaluator

“I’m looking forward to 2016 with a positive attitude, strength and good health and quality time with my lovely family.”

~Nora Khacheturians, Executive Director

“I never adopted the tradition of new year’s resolutions. I just want to try to be the best version of myself every day… one day at a time. ¡Feliz año nuevo! Sending you good wishes for the New Year.”

~Yolinisse Moreno, Director of Communications

“I resolve to submit my book proposal to prospective literary agents in 2016. (And, I will most likely resolve not do this!)”

~Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, President & CEO

And, to close, here’s one from the newest member of the ACEI family, Brian Aguilar, whose message for 2016 is just too good and inspiring to be shrunk down to a sound bite:

“The word “resolution” puts too much pressure on people and has lost its meaning over the years. It’s become more of a selling point for businesses (particularly fitness clubs) to cash in on people’s lack of discipline and commitment. For that reason, I choose not have a resolution, but rather, set goals for the year and lay out a plan that gives me the chance to challenge myself and have fun as I hit a series of checkpoints along the way. In 2016, I find myself looking forward to 5 major things. 

The first is starting school again and working on my certificate in Marketing with a Concentration in Social Media and Web Analytics through the UCLA Extension program. I’m excited to learn about innovative ways to use social media platforms to reach niche audiences, specifically in the promotion of film and digital media.  

Secondly, I want to break a new threshold in my fitness journey and finally cut down to 15% body fat. I’ve learned a lot since starting this journey two years ago. This goal requires a significant shift in my lifestyle that I am now ready to make. 

I’ve had the privilege of meeting some amazing artists in the last couple years and I plan to collaborate more with them and jump start the production of entertaining (yet socially aware) digital content . 

Aside from personal goals, I will be taking the beginning steps to incorporate my family’s small business, and thus work on a legitimate retirement plan for my parents.

2016 is looking to be an expensive year. Therefore, innovative financial strategies are also in order. Aside from formal plans I have set with my bank, I will be taking on the 52 Week Money Challenge, where a small amount of money is set aside each week, starting with $1 the first week in January all the way up to $52 the last week in December. 

I am ending 2015 on a high note and plan to carry that positive energy over into the new year. I look forward to seeing all the great things come out of 2016, not only for me, but for everyone around me. #2016Ready”
~Brian Aguilar, Client Relations Officer

From all of us here at ACEI, we wish you and yours a very Joyous and Prosperous New Year! Happy 2016!

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Season’s Greatings

Season Greeting

December 24th, 2015

A great deal, all positive, has been taking place at the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).  2015 was yet another productive year for ACEI. We celebrated our 21st birthday and introduced our 7 business standard processing time; the fastest in the country. We also rolled out a monthly webinar series on topics related to Diploma Mills, the Future of Higher Education and Emergence of Online Education, as well as country specific updates. Please sign up here so you can stay abreast of upcoming webinars.

We demonstrated our commitment to the field of international education through our participation and attendance at various regional and national conferences such as AACRAO, NAFSA, AIEA, NAGAP, and SHRM, as session presenters and exhibitors showcasing our various services.  In addition, we continued our contribution to the field on topics related to international education and world cultures through our weekly blog “Academic Exchange,” and our monthly newsletter, “The Report.” As proud Charter and Endorsed Members of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, we have been actively involved in the Association’s monthly Credential Forums and helping organize its first Annual Symposium on Standards to be held on March 23-24, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ.

As we prepare to wrap up 2015 and head home to our families for the holidays, we wanted to share a few fun facts on Christmas. We all know that Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. There are also several Christmas traditions that are not related to Jesus but have been adopted and included in the celebration. We’d like to share with you this video from The Business Insider that provides a list of five of the biggest traditions. Please click the link below:

The most popular Christmas traditions have nothing to do with Jesus

Thank you for following our blog in 2015. We look forward to providing you with more fun, thought provoking and insightful posts in 2016.

Have a Happy and Wonderful Holiday Season!

Our best,

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute Team


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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Bier, Buchs, and Bureaucracy: The journey of an American International student in Germany



Guten Morgen meine freunds!

It has been a week and a day since I arrived in the Old World and my experience thus far has definitely been an interesting one.

Jet lag is still taking its toll, but slowly and surely I’m adjusting. The weather here is surprisingly pleasant, no thanks to rising global temperatures. Albeit, it is nice to arrive in a place in which winter has usually an oppressively bitter hold on daily life. But on average, the sun is out and there is no sign of snow or ice anywhere. People are out and about riding bikes or walking to work.

Over the course of the week, I have seen several refugee families and many refugee housing developments; usually reissued shipping containers for functional modular construction which are sprouting all around the city. Cool thing is, the German government wants integration, so they don’t make a “ghetto” and instead place all of the refugees in one or two parts of the city. The refugee housing developments are interspersed so as to minimize segregation. Seeing this really puts things in perspective for me. Here I am, a white American male, not bringing with me any heart-held entitlement but with the privilege and choice to immigrate to this country just because I want to better my education. I find myself stressing over the ordeals of travel and applying online to a school and taking for granted my situation. But it all goes away when you see how other people struggle just to live, and how people reach out to help one another in times of incredible crisis.

The other day I rode my bike along the river for about 15 minutes to the art school to which I am applying. I had been having trouble online with my application form, and found that a technical error was hindering my application process so I thought it best to consult a school official on the matter. Once inside the remodeled industrial harbor side warehouse that now housed the education institution, I had to figure out who the heck I was supposed to speak with in regards to several questions I had and my troubles with the online error. When I found the International Student Office, I was able to speak with an extremely helpful representative who informed me what to do and whom to speak with. I was referred to the school’s Registrar’s Office. Imagine that! A school problem? Go to the school Registrar. Why didn’t I think of this?! I must have been so flustered by the process itself that it slipped my mind. So I thanked and said farewell to the International Student Officer, took the elevator to the 3rd floor and walked down the hall to the Registrar’s office. Of course, the Registrar wasn’t in her office until 15:00 PM (3:00pm) that day and at the moment it was 11:30.  I took the phone number down and I rode home with intent to call and get my answers over the telephone.

When I got home from the school I called the registrar. I’ve never heard of such a Registrar in the US education system who tackles so many student and personal issues. Obviously there is a different understanding in both the job description and probably definition of “Registrar” here in Germany as opposed to the US. I say this because the registrar helped me with everything. I was all questions and she was all answers.

Now that my application error has been cleared up, I have successfully submitted my application and await an acceptance notice from the school. Once I received word that my application has been processed, I will have to have my transcripts from the US sent to school in Germany. As this procedure continues, I marvel at how lax it all seems to be. I have come here with the American mind set of “Let’s get everything done quickly and promptly” so as to ensure I get a spot in the semester come 2016. My hasty-anxious mindset has been repeatedly confronted and suppressed by a more relaxed and calm outlook presented by all of the school officials I have henceforth interacted with. It’s quite amazing, and as time goes on I think it’s this slow, “everything in time and in its place if you will,” attitude that is indicative of the surrounding cultural aura.

After submitting the application, I received an automatic reply thanking me for my interest and my time invested in the application process and an assurance that I will be contacted by school officials on the status of my application as soon as possible.

Sigh of relief.

All I am waiting for now is for the print shop to finish printing my some images for my portfolio and a response from the school before the end of the month.

At this point I think I it is safe to say that I am slowly starting to embrace this calm and stable mindset when it comes to handling the many more trials to come in my education adventures.

That’s all for now folks,

Bis Bald!


Clayton Winston Johans

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Frozen Yogurt and GUNS?

December 10th, 2015

Mother with  teenager son having serious conversation

I was horrified. My husband came home from dropping our 5 year old son off at kindergarten yesterday with a bewildered look on his face. Our son’s teacher had a message for us this morning. Evidently, he is “obsessed with guns.” What? How can that be? We don’t allow toy guns or gun play. He has never seen a gun in the media. In fact, we have gone to great lengths to shelter him from any exposure to gun violence. Guns are for hunting and guns can hurt people. So, as we say, we do not play with guns. End of story.

Not any more. The story unfolds in a new chapter now. I felt physically ill at the thought of my child running around the playground playing gun games. And, at the same time, I know that his only exposure to guns had been an occasional water pistol, which I don’t condone, but it’s happened at parties. I wondered, “Is he ‘obsessed’ because I’ve overprotected him? Is he confused by the rules of play because he doesn’t understand the reality?” I called the principal at school right away to talk about the school policy and let her know we certainly do not allow gun play at home. I wanted her to know the source had to be coming from other children that our son was emulating.

I arrived early for pick up to speak with his teacher. She assured me this was normal and workable. I left feeling a good deal less horrified, but could still feel a heaviness in my belly. So many questions arose about our society, media and how to protect children from undue worries. I know many other families, good families, who allow their children to watch and play violent scenarios. Unless I choose to homeschool, and even then, we will continue to meet this conflict.

It was hot when I picked up our son, and I was steaming inside, so we went for frozen yogurt at our son’s favorite place, Menchie’s. Lo and behold, even the ice cream parlor is having an identity crisis when it comes to violence and children. My son reached up to grab a cup, but pulled his hand back when he caught sight of the unusual image displayed on the container. Plastered on the cups were promotional images of menacing looking boys and men brandishing swords and GUNS! Yes, guns. On the ice cream bowls. Why? Really, why do we ‘as a people’ allow this sort of rampant advertising of violence to our youth? Dare I say, “Shame on you, Menchie’s, for putting ad dollars first.” Luckily, there were “regular” pink, non-violent cups available in the back. The cashier was sympathetic to my concerns. I was astounded that no one else had brought up this issue before.

So, the story continues. I do not know the answers. I know we need to keep asking questions. I have some big questions now. I’d love your feedback.

Is it acceptable for media companies to advertise violent movies in public spaces?

Do such advertisements normalize violence?

Are we as a society desensitized to violent advertisement?

Should gun play be allowed at school? At home?

Please chime in with your wisdom in the comments!

Abby Wills

Abby Wills, MA, E-RYT

Shanti Generation, Co-Founder, Program Director
Abby brings her passion for developmental education and deep respect for the tradition of yoga to her work guiding youth and teachers in contemplative arts. Abby’s approach is informed by studies in social justice and democratic education at Pacific Oaks College, as well as two decades of training in yoga.

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6 Safety Tips for Study and Travel Abroad

December 4th, 2015


“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

If you are considering to participate in a Study Abroad program, you are preparing yourself for both a rewarding and exciting opportunity in your life as a student. By living and studying in another country, you will have the chance to experience and learn from a new culture through your day-to-day activities. For some students and depending on where you choose as your study abroad destination, you will also have the unique opportunity to travel to other countries and cities near you.

Setting off on your study abroad adventure can be both exciting and stressful and perhaps scary. Given the series of troubling news of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Kenya, and Istanbul, travel can be viewed with trepidation. It is, therefore, important to observe safety and security concerns while you’re abroad to ensure you will have a positive experience and return home with fond memories.

Here are some tips we’ve gleaned from various sources (cited at the end of this blog) which we hope you’ll find helpful:

1. Prepare for Travel

• Schedule a physical checkup with your family physician
• Have any subscription medication you wish to take with you up-to-date
• Check to see if the country where you’re traveling has restrictions or requirements on vaccinations and medications needed before entry
• Sign up for State Department’s Safe Traveler Enrollment Program
• Book your Trip through a Travel Agent
• Invest in Travel Insurance
• Share your Travel Itinerary with Loved Ones

2. Research and be aware of Your Surroundings

• Study maps so you’re familiar with the area of the where you will be living and going to school
• Have a few alternate routes memorized so you don’t use the same route to school and your residence
• Be street smart and don’t fall prey to street hawkers and scammers wanting to sell you cheap merchandise
• Avoid walking at night alone in areas you are not familiar
• Take fashion cues from locals to blend in and not stand out as a tourist

3. Safety in Numbers

• Traveling in groups, especially at night, is smart
• Let friends, family, roommates know of your whereabouts daily
• If you’re traveling to another town, share your itinerary with your friends, family, and roommate
• Know where your country’s nearest embassy and consulate is and how to contact them in case of an emergency

4. Protect Important Documents and Money

• Scan important documents
• Keep your money in different places
• Lock your passport and valuables
• Use a credit card instead of a debit card
• Keep a record of your credit card information incase they are lost or stolen in order to immediately alert the credit card companies

5. Stay Connected

• Buy a Data Plan or SIM Card
• Have a locally serviced phone number
• Provide your phone number to staff at your school, roommate, friends, and family
• Have you phone properly charged and with you at all times

6. Be Aware of Current Events

• Watch and read the news
• Subscribe to online news media through apps on your smart phone, or other social media such as Twitter and Facebook for up-to-date news
• Avoid protests and demonstrations

We want you to have a safe study and travel abroad experience. These tips are not to deter you but to empower you and prepare you as you venture abroad. After all, awareness and being vigilante are traits of a good global citizen. Traits that we can use even in our own hometowns.

Useful links:

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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