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.

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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 www.acei-global.org.


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Music for Troubled Times

April 3rd, 2020

We’re pleased to have Tom Schnabel, the legendary music consultant and former Music Director for KCRW, share two articles he has recently written for his Rhythm Planet blog with us here this week.

Tom’s extensive knowledge of music from many genres, and his expertise in curating music by artists outside the mainstream of pop culture have always helped those of us in Los Angeles and beyond  to enjoy the good and endure the difficult times. He has compiled a series of playlists in the two blogs we are sharing with you to try to soothe your nerves as well as to inject a small dose of humor into the mix


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We’re living in strange and uncertain times. I’ve compiled two playlists this week to try to soothe your nerves as well as to inject a small dose of humor into the mix.

First, a 4+ hour-long playlist of calming, meditative, and beautiful music to listen to while working from home or just relaxing. Music can offer a spiritual balm and help to assuage our worries. I am very happy with this playlist, for which I’ve mined songs that I often featured on air throughout the decades of my career.

The second (and shorter) Optimist Playlist focuses on being positive in times like ours. I’ve selected some reassuring and fun songs by Chet Baker, Mose Allison, Slim Gaillard, and more.

I sincerely hope you enjoy these playlists, whichever one you might be in the mood for. Stay safe and healthy, everyone.


toms

Tom Schnabel is an internationally recognized radio producer, pioneer, and innovator in world music. He helped introduce world music to American audiences as KCRW’s first music director and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic (1979-1991). Tom is the author of two books (Stolen Moments: Conversations with Contemporary Musicians and Rhythm Planet: The Great World Music Makers), and numerous articles about music. He has produced a number of recordings (Trance Planet, vols. 1–5), and provides music supervision for advertising and movies. He has also served as Program Advisor for the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall, and continues to host weekly music shows for KCRW online.  His KCRW Rhythm Planet blog is approaching 500 entries covering all aspects of music.  http://blogs.kcrw.com/rhythmplanet/ In 1998 Tom was honored by the French government with the French Medal of Arts, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Des Lettres.  www.tomschnabel.com


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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 www.acei-global.org.

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Mindful Minutes with ACEI – Safe Space, Virtual Place

March 27th, 2020

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Recognizing the collective anxiety and the stress induced by the uncertainty the current global pandemic has brought on, ACEI has set out to host a weekly or bi-weekly webchat for co-workers, colleagues, and friends. We will offer these webchats until no longer needed. On Wednesday, March 25, 2019, we hosted our first “Mindful Minutes with ACEI – Safe Space, Virtual Place.”

Creating a platform where we can engage, share our personal experiences and discuss how we can help one another is the impetus behind ACEI’s Mindful Minutes. We are not discussing credential evaluation issues or how to recruit students or emerging markets in international education. We are dealing with real-time, real life issues and providing ourselves the space to talk about how we’re coping and what we’re doing to make these turbulent times manageable through mindful exercises.

Our entire team at ACEI has quickly transitioned to working online and remotely since last Thursday. We continue to assure our applicants and institutional clients of our availability to service their needs and answer their questions. We realize that this is the current paradigm for many who are not classified as essential workers. Creating our home offices and making spaces that allow us to continue doing our work as seamlessly as possible while remaining alert and vigilante to the ongoing news updates can be daunting to say the least.  Adjusting to this new routine, especially for parents of young children who now require home schooling is bringing on new levels of stress that if unchecked can affect our overall wellness.

The response to our first Mindful Minutes webinar has been overwhelmingly positive. Our next Mindful Minutes with ACEI will be on Wednesday, April 1st. You can register here.

We recorded our webchat of March 25th and including the link

Recording password: 6Pcfj4t2

We encourage any questions or further discussion, please feel free to contact our presenters by email: acei@acei-global.org.

We would like to leave you with a message from the author Elizabeth Gilbert which was shared in the March 25th webinar called “Facing Fear With Compassion:”

Facing Fear With Compassion

From Elizabeth Gilbert, Author

Human beings are incredibly resourceful, creative and resilient both as individuals and as a species. We have survived unbelievable hardships.

If you’re looking for courage in the face of catastrophe, try to remember this:

Every single one of us is the direct genetic descendant of ancestors who survived unthinkable hardships. That is where we come from – survivors – that’s what we’re made of, thousands and thousands of generations of people before us who survived. If they didn’t exist and survive, we wouldn’t be here.

Resilience is our birthright and survival is our shared history.

If you are afraid for yourself, others, future of humanity, take a moment and remember our ancestors and recall what they faced and what they went through.

As Winston Churchill said, we have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across mountains, across the prairies because we are made of sugar candy. Resilience is our shared inheritance. Resourcefulness is the very hallmark of our species.

We are creative, we are adaptive, and history has shown that humanity sometimes always finds a way, even when it appears that there is no way.

We are strong. You have probably survived a great deal in life, emotionally, physically, financially. You have gotten this far. You may have resources that have helped you get this far and you may not even be aware you have them.

If you’ve had a spiritual practice, or something similar, this is what you’ve been preparing for. Spiritual practices are exercises to prepare us for these exact times, when things are difficult and incomprehensible. You’re stronger than you know.

As one soldier may tell another soldier before going into battle, “remember your training, buddy!” This is what we came here for and this is what we’ve been practicing for, and this is when it counts.

Listen to the voice inside, and remember these words of infinite kindness that love is within us:

I’m right here

I’ve got you

I love you

and, I’m not going anywhere.

If you wish to receive alerts of our future Mindful Minutes webchats, please send us an email at acei@acei-global.org and include “Mindful Minutes News” in the subject line.

Be well and stay safe.


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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 www.acei-global.org.

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Covid-19 Update

March 17th, 2020

“For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.”

– Millard Fuller

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We care deeply about our community – locally & abroad. Indeed, community is a major focus of our service. We are committed to providing exceptional service to our applicants and clients. Our dedicated team of credential evaluators, administrators, IT, and support staff will be working remotely for the coming days as we weather this global crisis. All our services are available and accessible on-line.

So as to not compromise the health and well-being of our staff, we will not be using US post or any courier services for the receipt of application or delivery of the completed evaluation reports. All reports will be delivered by electronic mail or via ACEI’s Secure Pathway. If your institution or organization does not have an ACEI SecurePathway account, please complete and return the form in this link and one will be set up for you immediately.

We will be keeping you abreast of news updates that impact the national and international education community through our Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter, our weekly Blog and our monthly newsletter The Report.

We deeply appreciate all of your understanding and support through this trying time. Be well and stay safe.

Many,  Many Blessings,

 


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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 www.acei-global.org.

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COVID-19/Coronavirus: Quick Facts

March 12th, 2020

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On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The viral disease has already swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people.

Many national and international conferences have been cancelled. Concerts and other events that draw large number of people have been cancelled and/or postponed. Schools and colleges are cancelling in-person classes and switching to on-line instruction. Here at ACEI, we are monitoring the developments very closely and cancelled our attendance at upcoming professional education conferences. We have a robust system in place to accommodate our team to work remotely and receive applications for credential evaluation online and via digital portals.

While we are in a wait and see state, we would like to share the link to Worldometer, an online site that provides live, up-to-date information. Worldometer, for those who may not be familiar, is run by an international team of developers, researchers, and volunteers with the goal of making world statistics available in a thought-provoking and time relevant format to a wide audience around the world. Worldometer is owned by Dadax, an independent company. They have no political, governmental, or corporate affiliation. Worldometer was voted as one of the best free reference websites by the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world. They have licensed their counters at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to BBC News, among others. Worldometer is cited as a source in over 10,000 published books, in more than 6,000 professional journal articles, and in over 1000 Wikipedia pages.

For real time updated, please visit Worldometer by clicking here and World Health Organization by clicking here.

The following is copied from Worldometer’s site:

Typical Symptoms

COVID-19 typically causes flu-like symptoms including a fever and cough.
In some patients – particularly the elderly and others with other chronic health conditions – these symptoms can develop into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.

After a week, it can lead to shortness of breath, with about 20% of patients requiring hospital treatment.

Notably, the COVID-19 infection rarely seems to cause a runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat (these symptoms have been observed in only about 5% of patients). Sore throat, sneezing, and stuffy nose are most often signs of a cold.

80% of cases are mild

Based on all 72,314 cases of COVID-19 confirmed, suspected, and asymptomatic cases in China as of February 11, a paper by the Chinese CCDC released on February 17 and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology has found that:

  • 80.9% of infections are mild (with flu-like symptoms) and can recover at home.
  • 13.8% are severe, developing severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath.
  • 4.7% as critical and can include: respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure.
  • In about 2% of reported cases the virus is fatal.
  • Risk of death increases the older you are.
  • Relatively few cases are seen among children.

Pre-existing conditions

Pre-existing illnesses that put patients at higher risk:

  1. cardiovascular disease
  2. diabetes
  3. chronic respiratory disease
  4. hypertension

That said, some otherwise healthy people do seem to develop a severe form of pneumonia after being infected by the virus. The reason for this is being investigated as we try to learn more about this new virus.

How long do symptoms last?

Using available preliminary data, the Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission published on Feb. 28 by WHO, [5] which is based on 55,924 laboratory confirmed cases, observed the following median time from symptoms onset to clinical recovery:

  • mild cases: approximately 2 weeks
  • severe or critical disease: 3 – 6 weeks
  • time from onset to the development of severe disease (including hypoxia): 1 week

Among patients who have died, the time from symptom onset to outcome ranges from 2 – 8 weeks.

How to protect yourself?

World Health Organization offers advice on how we can protect ourselves. To learn more, click here.

Sources

Symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [Pdf] – World Health Organization, Feb. 28, 2020
https://www.cdc.gov/– Center for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.who.int/ – World Health Organization
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ – WorldoMeter Coronavirus

Be safe and be well.


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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 www.acei-global.org.

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Not Forgetting the Refugees

March 6th, 2020

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As countries around the world are grappling with containing the coronavirus as the latest health emergency, one crisis that has not diminished but continues to persist is the plight of refugees. According to the UNHRC, we are now seeing the highest levels of displacement of people on record.

Here are a few facts as reported by UNHRC:

  • An unprecedented 70.8 million people around the world have been forced from home.
  • Nearly 25.9 million are refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.
  • There are also millions of stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.
  • Nearly 1 person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution.

The unfathomable harrowing journeys of refugees are heartbreaking and too many to recount and stories where there are glimmers of hope for those who have found refuge and sanctuary are too few and far in between. The video shared by UNHCR offers us a glimpse into a young man’s journey from Syria to Strasbourg, France.

LINK TO VIDEO

https://www.unhcr.org/theo-james.html

In the video, the actor, Theo James, shares his story that connects him to the refugee experience. His grandfather, Dr. Nicholas Taptiklis, was a physician who escaped from Nazi-occupied Greece during WWII. He made his way by boat and then overland through Turkey and sought refuge in Damascus, Syria. As soon as WWII ended, Dr. Taptiklis left Syria and started working in Gottingen, Germany with the organization that was the predecessor to the UN Refugee Agency where he fought typhoid and tuberculosis in the refugee camps.

As James says in the video “We have to remember that only two generations ago, Europeans were going the other way and people in Damascus were helping people like my grandfather.”

Putting a name and face to the plight of a person fleeing war and persecution brings their experience closer to home. It also helps us see that our similarities outweigh our differences. “One thing that struck me is how similar he was to me and how similar he was to some of my closest friends from university,” James says about Housam, the Syrian refugee he had met in Strasbourg. Please watch the video. It is brief with a poignant message.

If you wish to show support of UNHCR, click on the donate button in this link.


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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 www.acei-global.org.

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India: Population Growth and Access to Higher Education

February 28th, 2020

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It is estimated that over the next 5 years, India’s youth population will continue to increase. This means that the current education system will prove inadequate in accommodating the age group of 18-22. For this reason and those shown below, India will continue to play a dominant role as a source for higher education institutions seeking to increase their international student numbers.

Let’s take a look at some facts:

  • Current population of India: 1.3 billion (July 2018 est.)
  • Estimated population of India by 2030: 1.5 billion
  • Number of Indians who will be in the age group of 18-22 in the 5 years: 3 out of 10
  • Number of colleges and universities in India in 2017-19: 39,050 and 903, respectively
  • Number of students enrolled in higher education 2017-18: 36.64 million
  • Value of India’s education sector in 2018: US $91.7 billion
  • Value of India’s education sector in 2019: US $101.1 billion
  • Percentage of universities mandated by the government in January 2019 to deliver online degree courses: 15%
  • Expected growth of India’s on-line education over the next two years: US $1.96 billion
  • Rural internet growth and usage: 566 million people

A few observations:

  • Degrees still matter to Indian students more than skills which lead to high number of graduates with low employability.
  • Rote learning continues to be a focus of the education policy with emphasis on memorizing facts.
  • The country lacks availability of quality vocational training.
  • Academic-industry engagement is inadequate and limited to select few institutions.
  • Quality education with global exposure is limited and expensive.
  • Institutions are having a difficult time keeping up with the growing population and their needs which will result in a largely unemployable youth population holding qualifications that don’t match the needs of the industry.
  • Universities don’t provide their students with any career counselling services .

Solutions:

  • Make higher education accessible via e-learning opportunities. In India, even the University Grants Commission (UGC) is now recognizing open online courses.
  • Vocational education needs the government’s support so that it is at par with conventional courses to help close the gap with mainstream university education.
  • Indian universities need to invest more in research and development to have a global standing and recognition which is currently absent.

Sources:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/attachments/summaries/IN-summary.pdf

https://www.hindustantimes.com/education/the-road-map-for-higher-education-in-india/story-YCKdHdTzSrFBISlnc2ca4M.html


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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 www.acei-global.org.

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