Category Archives: Gratitude

8 Benefits to Virtual Fairs

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA.  ACEI is a full-service company providing complete and integrated services in the areas of international education research, credential evaluation, and translation. ACEI’s Global Consulting Group®, offers expertise in the following specialties: Media and Branding, Global Pathways, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to interested institutions and organizations around the globe. www.acei-global.org

 

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Dispatches from Mar Vista, Los Angeles, CA during COVID-19 Lockdown

Witten by: Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

By the time this blog is posted, it will be day 44 since Los Angeles county issued its shelter in place order. The skies have never been clearer and traffic on the infamous 405 Freeway is almost nonexistent. The air is sweet, yes, I never expected to use the word “sweet” in connection with Los Angeles air quality. The city seems calm, and like the rest of the world our planet is taking a deep breath as we shelter in place.

On March 19th, as soon as our city’s mayor made the shelter in place announcement, I instructed my team at the ACEI headquarters to pack up their essentials as we would be working remotely from home.  We weren’t caught off guard or surprised by this news.  A month prior to the lock-down order, our COO had ordered laptops for all our in-house team in preparation and anticipation of just this scenario. The next day, like clockwork, we were all online and in communication with our international applicants and institutional clients. Applications for evaluation were being processed via our online portal and academic documents were being received digitally from institutions and recognized platforms. Twice a week, I visit the office with one other member of our team, mindful of keeping our socially recommended distance of 6 feet, which is easy to do in our spacious loft workspace.

The ACEI team is working harder than ever, responding to queries from our applicants from around the world via our online chat, emails and phone. We hold daily video chats as our end of day wrap-up. We try to keep the humor in our uncertain world by playing around with the background imagery of our video chat platform.  Our COO prefers a lush landscape of rolling hills, while the rest of our crew including myself, seem to be partial to space inspired motifs, which is something new for me as I’m not a SciFi fan. But it seems that images of futuristic cities and galaxies far far away are befitting of the current surreal state of our world.

As soon as the world and us went into collective lockdown, we knew that we were going to experience all levels of emotions, from anxiety, to panic, fear, anger, frustration, euphoria, exhaustion, malaise, serenity, denial, and back to panic and uncertainty. Immediately, we decided to start hosting a free weekly webcast we named “Mindful Minutes with ACEI.” We set these webcasts as a safe virtual place for our coworkers, colleagues, friends and family to join to share their stories, how they were coping and what they were feeling. We invited guest speakers who offered insights and techniques we could practice in our daily lives to return to a place of inner peace, no matter how fleeting.

My first week of working at home, something I hadn’t done since I founded ACEI in 1994 from my one-bedroom apartment, was challenging as I was having a difficult time situating myself in a place I could call my home office.  Finally, I joined my husband, also working from home, and equally divided the dining table as his and hers offices. We have been very mindful of our invisible boundaries and have had zero border skirmishes.  It is strange though how life can do a 360 and I find myself in a similar situation as the day I started ACEI, that is; working from home, though now I have a team of loyal and dedicated employees whom I’m responsible for and who look to me for guidance, moral support and hope.

I do keep my daily routine. I wake up early as before, shower, get dressed, meditate, have breakfast and step into my “office” formerly the dining room, and start the “work” day. I go for long walks in the afternoons after I step away from my “office,” and take a 20-minute nap. The daily mini naps have been a godsend.

I mentioned this earlier, and it needs to be said again, that exhaustion seems to be the common denominator amongst everyone I speak with and those who attend our webcasts and the comments I see on social media. We are being pushed to self-reflect and one thing that is becoming clear is that the uncertainty we feel today has always been with us, except now we have the time to truly understand its full meaning. Call it an existential crisis, which it is. We are each experiencing an existential crisis and we are experiencing it together and at different intervals and levels. We are grasping for answers and looking hard into the future attempting to make predictions, if not guesses as to what to expect once we emerge from our extended lockdowns. A friend likened this to the cocoon from which a butterfly will finally emerge.

I’m also hearing from many who are being hard on themselves for not maximizing their time in quarantine by being more productive, like cleaning out the garage, their closets, painting and doing home renovations (something my husband, bless his heart, has volunteered himself to do each weekend), learning a language or musical instrument or starting a new side job. I was reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by a friend’s comment on Facebook recently which is worth revisiting, especially now during a global pandemic. Humans, as we know, have basic needs which appear on the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid and these are food, water, shelter, sleep, etc. If these needs are met, then the next level on the pyramid is safety and security. If we feel safe and secure in our current environment, then we can move up the pyramid and embrace love and a sense of belonging which then takes us to the next level on the pyramid at the very top, which is is self-actualization.

In the midst of a pandemic, we cannot expect to ascend the pyramid and self-actualize when we are mainly dwelling in the basement of Maslow’s pyramid. People are still searching for toilet paper, for goodness sake! At this moment in time we need to take a deep breath and know that every day we are here counts. Every breath we take counts. Are we eating, drinking water, getting a few hours of sleep? These are major triumphs. An exercise my husband and I practice at the end of the day is we ask each other: “So what where your wins today?” I always start by saying that I woke up feeling healthy. I consider this a big win. We need to ease up on ourselves and be extra gentle and abundantly gracious with ourselves. We will get through this, somehow or another. And right now, getting through is absolutely okay.

 Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the founder, President and CEO of Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI).

 

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA.  ACEI is a full-service company providing complete and integrated services in-house in the areas of international education research, credential evaluation, and translation. ACEI’s Global Consulting Group®, offers expertise in the following specialties: Media and Branding, Global Pathways, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to interested institutions and organizations around the globe. www.acei-global.org

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Filed under COVID-19, credentialevaluation, Credentials, Education, Gratitude, Human Interest

Lessons on Kindness

April 10th, 2020

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I sometimes help out at a senior living facility, a 1 ½ hour’s drive from my home. But that was months ago before I started on several new projects. Then came COVID. When the virus reached Maine and I was forced to put all of those projects on hold, initially I didn’t panic. I was tired and honestly, afraid to travel even though I was very much looking forward to both conferences, Diversity Abroad and AACRAO, on my schedule. Instead, I took a little trip to visit my sister who lives an hour south of me. Since I was going to be so close, I thought I would visit the seniors. At the coffee shop on the way down, which was still open at this point, something inside me said, “you should probably call and see if they are letting non-family members visit.”

I did. They weren’t.

That same week the Global Consulting Services (GCS) arm of ACEI, of which I am a part, had a Zoom meeting scheduled. On that call we decided that, instead of continuing to work on webinars and promotional videos, we would just host a check-in webinar. Each of us would take a few minutes to speak about how we were coping with our lives in the time of COVID. We invited a guest speaker, Abby Wills, to talk about coping mechanisms and lead us in a mindfulness exercise. After that the floor would be opened to any of the participants to speak, ask questions, etc.

One of the many ways of dealing with a crisis, as Abby so deftly explained, was not to avoid it but to be aware of it and then practice any of the methods on how to do so, in order to get through it. And most important, to be kind to ourselves. She said this a few times and even again in the following week’s webinar.

Be kind to ourselves. What does that mean in this situation? Images of SNL’s Stuart Smalley’s daily affirmations came to mind even though I know that’s not what she meant.

My interpretation is that we need to allow ourselves whatever feelings come our way. We need to maybe, for once, stop planning and recognize that the world as we know it, has forever changed and to accept how we are in that realization.

Americans in the United States pride themselves on how much they get done. Some do so while bragging about how little sleep they do it on. Some years ago, I heard a nurse boast about how she’d only been getting 3 hours of sleep a night. A nurse! If anyone should know the benefits of sleep, she should. My first reaction was to find out where she worked and make sure I was never her patient and my second was to pray for her patients. As a lifelong insomniac who did a whole lot on very little sleep, I would never brag about it. It was not a choice for me. And it shouldn’t be for most people.

So why do we feel we always need to be doing something?

A week after I called the senior facility, I was called by them to come in to work. Sadly, their families were no longer allowed to visit and activities had to be canceled so they needed activities people to come and visit the residents. I was thrilled because I missed people, I missed them and I missed having something to do. Then last week I was sent home because I had symptoms of a cold. I could not return until a doctor cleared me.

The first day or so it was easy to rest but after that I felt as though I should catch up on email, finish projects I’d started, or at least check Facebook. So, I did those things but then I woke up the following day again feeling sick. The next day I just wanted to read even though I was feeling somewhat better. So I did, but guiltily. The following day I read guilt-free but only because the book was so good that I couldn’t put it down. But then I finished the book. Again, my brain said, – do something. You can’t sit around reading all day, lazy bones. Check email or at least read non-fiction. It hit me though that I was home because I was still sick and suddenly Abby’s coaxing to be kind to myself registered. Maybe being kind to ourselves means forgetting everything we were ever told by our bosses about the way to the top, or by every magazine from over-achievers like Oprah and Martha Stewart. Maybe it means watching more videos of Italians performing arias on their balconies. Why are they doing this instead of painting their kitchens? Maybe they are painting their kitchens, but we know they were also taught the value of spending more time with their families than at work, and that enjoying music and the arts is a part of being successful. What’s the point of being successful if you have no life to enjoy? Maybe this is what being kind to ourselves is. Maybe this is what we’ll realize will never be the same after COVID. Maybe we’ll learn how little control we truly have and recognize how fun it is to connect with old friends, write an old fashioned paper letter, or play board games with the family.

With this in mind I pulled out a box of unpacked books and piled several choices of fiction next to my couch. I opened the one on top and carted myself back to 1984.

To watch/listen to ACEI’s Mindful Minutes, click here and use the password provided:

Mindful Minutes, Session 1   password: 6Pcfj4t2

Mindful Minutes, Session 2  password: pYeujfc9


k_hylen

Kathleen Hylen, M.A. International Education Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Graduated with honors from UC, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Community Studies, focus on anti-bias. Kathleen is also a member of ACEI’s Professional Consultancy Team. Her focus is on helping institutions and organizations develop and/or bolster their diversity and inclusion strategies.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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 www.acei-global.org.


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Thanksgiving_2019

“Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.”
Jacques Maritain

From all of us at Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), we want to wish everyone a happy and festive Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends. We hope your day is filled with love, laughter, and gratitude.

We are thankful for all of you.


ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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 www.acei-global.org.

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Happy 4th of July!

July 4th, 2019

Screenshot 2019-07-04 09.12.01

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Happy Holidays 2018

December 19th, 2018

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Dear Colleagues,

As 2018 comes to an end, it is important to reflect on the positive gains and learn from the setbacks.  Yes, international student enrollments are down compared to two years ago. And we know there are multiple factors that have contributed to slowed enrollment, including the rising cost of U.S. higher education, student visa delays and denials, and an environment increasingly marked by rhetoric and policies that make life more difficult for international students, immigrants, as well as changing conditions and opportunities in home countries and increasing competition from other countries for students.

I, for one, choose to look at setbacks not as a negative but as ultimately a good thing which reminds me of this Zen proverb: “The obstacle is the path.” Often we’re discouraged because of some tough challenge or obstacle in our way. But a shift in mindset can change everything

The ACEI team follows this credo as well and has worked full steam ahead this year. We went ahead and joint forces with our colleagues at iTEP International and launched The Welcome Project; a service uniquely designed to help vulnerable/displaced individuals classified as refugees. Our credential evaluation service has remained robust and providing assistance to schools, colleges and universities, licensing boards and employers throughout the U.S.  We have also collaborated and formed new partnerships with institutions and examinations bodies in the U.S. and internationally by offering our expertise and guidance through our credential evaluation and professional advisory services.  We continued to attend numerous national and international conferences, spoke as presenters, contributed to publications and newsletters. Through our joint efforts, we have been able to forge ahead and look forward to the future.

For that, at this holiday season, we can give thanks. Thanks to our clients for the confidence they have placed in us and to their applicants for selecting ACEI for their credential evaluation needs. And thanks to our wonderful and dedicated group of senior evaluators, administrators, and support staff who are always willing and eager to put in the necessary extra time and effort to achieve the results our clients and applicants deserve and expect.

On behalf of my partners Alan A. Saidi, Senior Vice-President & COO, Nora Khacheturian, Executive Director of Evaluation & Translation Dept., and all of us here at ACEI, I want you to know that we truly appreciate you. May Peace, Happiness and Prosperity be yours during this Holiday Season and throughout the New Year.

And, remember, the obstacle isn’t something standing in our way. It’s the way itself.

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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 www.acei-global.org.

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Happy Holidays!

December 22nd, 2017

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