Tag Archives: NAFSA

A 1st Timer’s Reflections on the NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference

June 7th, 2019

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My excitement and expectations as a first-time participant to the NAFSA Annual Meeting were exceeded. It was a great experience to see how united and collaborative the community of international higher education is. I think this was the first time when I truly understood what networking really means. I was waiting by the information desk to meet with my IEM mentor (via the IEM Connector Program) and I happened to glance over the long hallway of the Convention Center. Everywhere I could see, there were people with a big smile on their face and arms open wide, recognizing and old friend or collaborator. My experience with the conference was one of belonging to a community wholeheartedly dedicated to excellence in higher education.

Two prominent plenary speakers at the conference were former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Collin Powell. Both talked about the importance of international education and the role of the government in creating supporting policies for attracting international students. They shared their own experiences in the White House and expressed intense criticism for the current government’s actions against internationalization. They were so funny and witty!

The recurrent theme of this year’s NAFSA Annual Conference was the anticipated diminishing numbers of international students. The main reasons for predicted lower numbers are the following: difficulties in obtaining student visas, higher visa processing fees, perceived racism and discrimination, higher tuition costs, unstable political discourse, future USCIS plans for restructuring the OPT and CPT, rise in H1-B visa denials.

Where do international students go and why? International students mostly go to Canada and Australia, with the US and UK seeing lower numbers than ever. Canada is seen as more welcoming, with less visa restrictions and more opportunities for securing work after study completion.

At the conference, I attended sessions on how to develop recruitment, admissions and retentions strategies in response to the current unsteady global enrollment climate. I basically tried to learn from what other institutions are doing to develop and implement systemic change to deal with future enrollment. What I found was not a surprise: apply cross-cultural competencies to understand the incoming international student population, make data-driven policies and procedures, and create informative communication plans to teach students/applicants how to navigate the US academic system.

One of the most informative session I attended was Canada’s International Students: A Study in Diversity. This was an exceptionally interesting presentation with a tremendous amount of government data. Contrary to the perception that increased numbers or international students are due to the US and UK’s detrimental policies, the Canadian Government had created a plan to enhance the international student population back in 2013. US and UK’s discriminatory environment has indeed helped their numbers but only because they already had a very structured plan in place to absorb the high number of international students. It was not just luck, it was tremendous work and strong support from the government.

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POLIXENIA TOHANEANU, has been working as an International Admissions Specialist and Credential Evaluator in the Graduate Admissions Office at University of Idaho since 2016. She holds an M.A. in Francophone Studies from University of Cincinnati. As a previous international graduate student herself, she is passionate for researching new ways to make the process of evaluating international credentials more efficient. Email: polixeniat@uidaho.edu

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Albright & Powell: Two Former Secretaries of State in Conversation

International Students, Immigration, Diplomacy

May 31st, 2019

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This year’s NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo was held in Washington, DC and wrapped up on May 31st. The highlight of my 2 ½ day attendance besides the fruitful meetings with colleagues and strengthening partnerships with client institutions and organizations was the opening plenary that included two former U.S. Secretaries of State, Madeleine Albright and General Colin Powell which was moderated by Dr. Esther Brimmer, Executive Director & CEO of NAFSA.

The following are excerpts of their discussion on international education, immigration policy, and diplomacy which I’ve paraphrased to the best of my ability based on notes I was able to take:

On International Students:

Secretary Albright stressed that we need to have an understanding of international education and the importance of students from U.S. going abroad and international students coming to study in the U.S.  As a professor at Georgetown University she knows how dire the situation is as the number of international students coming to study in the U.S. has been declining. She sees this as a great loss to U.S. higher education and U.S. diplomatic relations with allies and adversaries.

On the Iron Curtain and the Cold War:

General Powell said when he joined the military 60 years ago, the military had a clear understanding of its mission. His first assignment was to stand guard behind the Iron Curtain. He said the rules were clear. Stopping the Russians was the mission. Both the Soviet Union and the United States knew that they had the capacity to destroy each other, and knew each other’s capabilities. This knowledge had a stabilizing influence. Both countries looked to the Third World and competed for it.  But the Soviet Union started to show cracks. Then the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed on Christmas Day 1991.  “The world as we had known it and the sense of anticipated destruction we’d been preparing for went away,” he said. The President at the time, George Herbert Bush, saw this as a brand new world, but one thing became clear was that throughout the Cold War years the U.S. knew its enemies and was prepared to take them down and defend those western European nations and any one who wished to join the American theory of democracy, equal rights and open economic policy. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union the lid on the proverbial boiling pot came off and what was inside was a scorching stew of sectarianism, different economic positions, and people who still wanted to be autocrats. And, these beliefs were spreading around the world. The U.S. and its allies may have predicted the fall of the Soviet Union but they had never anticipated the sectarian differences and rise of autocratic political systems in countries like Poland, Hungary, Turkey, and Egypt.

On Immigration and Diversity:

General Powell continued by saying that immigration, this wonderful national identity that America upheld for many years, is now becoming a problem in Europe because they did not prepare for it well and have not done a good job in managing it. And now it has hit the U.S. He urged that the U.S. must sort out what its policy should be with respect to immigration and international students. He warned that the U.S. is on the brink of turning into a country that has become more autocratic than any time in his life time. “We have a President who thinks he knows what he is doing,” he said. General Powell was chagrined by the lack of dialogue between the two political parties. He recalled that during his and Ms. Albright’s respective tenures as Secretary of State, they were able to resolve problems by having members of both political parties communicating with each other. “The Republican party is solidly behind the president no matter what he says or does and the Democrats are trying to figure out what they’re going to do,” he continued.  “Immigration has been the life and soul of America. It is who we are,” he added.  General Powell spoke of his parents who came from Jamaica to America on the banana board in 1920’s. His parents met in New York, married, and led a comfortable life. “I grew up in a diverse multi ethnic neighborhood. Born in Harlem, raised in the Bronx, called Fort Apache. It was called a bad neighborhood, but I loved it. I met every ethnicity of the world in that city block. I loved it.  I learned how to live with people who weren’t just like me, except they were just like me. We are human beings, we are Americans,” he continued.  He emphasized the importance of developing a solid immigration policy one that doesn’t make it difficult for young people to come here to study and doesn’t make it even more difficult for them to stay if they’ve succeeded in getting a solid education.  He feared that these young people’s opinion of the U.S., “once the crown jewel of the world,” will not be looked at the same way again. He said that “this image has been damaged but that America is still a country you can believe in, but that we need to sort ourselves out. It’s not about Make America Great Again, America never stopped being great.”

On Technology and Globalization:

Secretary Albright continued with General Powell’s sentiments and said that the world is counting on a U.S. that demonstrates “normal reactions to the problems going on,” but that is not what the U.S. is currently doing. She spoke about technology, both its positive influences as well as how disruptive it can be.  She said there are two megatrends that we are witnessing that have both positive and negative results. The first megatrend is ‘globalization’ and most of us have benefited from it in one form or another and most of it are the students who were able to travel from their country to another to study and saw themselves as a global citizen. “Being a global citizen is not an insult. But there is a downside to it. Globalization is faceless. People want an identity. We want to know who we are and where we come from.  But if my identity hates your identity, we end up with hyper-nationalism. Which is very dangerous and that is the downsize of globalization,” she said. Another megatrend is ‘technology’ which has great benefits, and she used the example of a Kenyan woman farmer who no longer needed to walk for miles to pay her bills and can do so now by using her mobile phone and even get an education online, or start her own business.  But the negative part of technology is that it “disarticulates voices.” She referred to the Egyptian Uprising of 2011 that was part of the Arab Spring movement, where people in Egypt in January 2011 were summoned to Tahrir Square by Social Media. But once the people gathered at the Square they had no sense of what their organizational system was going to be once they had overthrown President Hosni Mubarak. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood was organized and had been organized for many years. In her opinion, the November 2011 elections in Egypt following uprising were held too soon and this is why the Muslim Brotherhood was able to win the election which caused more disruptions since it wasn’t what the people who had gathered in Tahrir Square had wanted. But the continuous disorganization made it unbearable for the merchants and shopkeepers who

were trying to make a living in the marketplace in a city that was riddled with chaos and disorder. They wanted order which led to Egypt having a military government. She sees what happened in Egypt as an example of why people, during periods of rapid change and disorder, call on autocratic leaders.  She quoted a Silicon Valley individual whose name she had forgotten as having said the following appropriate statement: “People are talking to their governments on 21st century technology, the governments are listening to them on 20th century technology, and are providing 19th century responses.”

On World History, Geography and Culture

Secretary Albright then spoke of the importance of learning and understanding the geography, history and culture of countries in order to help share cultural policy. She said she is known as “multilateral Madeleine,” and that Americans don’t like the word multilateralism that it has “too many syllables and ends with an “ism.” She regards international education and cultural diplomacy and learning about the other as the ultimate aspect of partnership. “We need to understand where we come from and none of that will happen if we decide to see ourselves as victims,” she added.

On Post 9/11 Immigration Policies:

General Powell recalled that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. reacted by shutting down the flow of refugees and enforcing stricter visa regulations on international students. No sooner had these regulations been enforced that he began receiving angry calls from university presidents who implored the State Department to ease up on the student visas.  They argued that international students were financially beneficial to U.S. institutions of higher education and helped keep their institutions operational. He said today China has about 400,000 students studying in the U.S. and the current Administration is accusing Chinese students as spying for their government as an excuse to make visa requirements more difficult. General Powell quipped that the U.S. need not worry about Chinese students spying as “there are spies amongst us here.” He blamed TV news and social media as exaggerating events to scare the American people so much so that we cannot have rational intelligent conversations. “They (N. Korea, Iran, China, Russia) are not enemies, but our adversaries. If N. Korea has a nuclear weapon, it wouldn’t use it because it would be assisted suicide. If they were to drop a bomb on a U.S. city, the U.S. would in turn annihilate them,” he said. He found it odd that the current Administration is arguing that Iran is going to build nuclear weapons when this issue was taken care of in the Nuclear Agreement of 2015 which stopped them from further developing their centrifuges. He did not view Russia as a military threat because “it lacks the economic strength to back it up.” As for China, he found this Administration’s fear tactics concerning China baseless in that China is already defeating the U.S. economically and doing so very well. He asked: “Why would they (China) want to attack us, when they have us buying the stuff they make?”

 On Diplomacy:

Secretary Albright stressed the importance of diplomacy but said that “diplomacy means having people who are diplomats and allocating resources to fund the diplomats” and the need to have a State Department that is properly staffed with appointed Ambassadors at their posts in countries around the world. She also stated that the foreign students who come and study here build a network and when they graduate they return home and hold positions in the private or public sector. Some run for political office and some get appointed to be ambassadors of their own countries. She shared that the current Japanese Foreign Minister was her student at the Modern Foreign Government course she teaches. “This is how you build diplomatic relations. The people that you meet at school are people who are going to show up again. It’s an automatic network. Diplomacy works, if you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This can be achieved more easily if there is a basis of understanding of each other’s cultures,” she said. “ One could prove the importance of international education by the mere fact that it works. It helps create friendships,” she emphasized.

General Powell recalled that at every post he had held, one thing he learned that has proven effective is the ability to listen to people and talk to people, and not shout at them.  He also mentioned that today, at City College of New York Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, the institution he had attended as a young adult, 90% of the student body is a minority and 80% were born in another country. “They are going to be great Americans. This is who we are and this is what makes us great,” he said.

On Immigration (Reminder why America is the Land of Immigrants):

Secretary Albright said that she and her parents came to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia in 1948, Her father had been a Czechoslovak diplomat and she remembers him saying that during WII when they had sought refuge in other countries, people would say “we’re so sorry your country has been taken on by Hitler, you’re welcome here, what can we do to help you and when are you going home?” When she and her family came to the U.S. after the communists took over Czechoslovakia, people would say, “we’re so sorry your country has been taken over by a terrible system, you’re welcome here, what can we do to help you and when will you become a citizen?”  That is what made America different from other countries and she felt that this has been forgotten by many Americans. She saw the anti-immigration sentiments of the past two years to America’s detriment. She said that one of her favorite things to do is give people their naturalization certificates. The first time she did it was on July 4, 2000 at Monticello. She overheard one person say: “Can you believe it…I just received my naturalization certificate from the Secretary of State and I’m a refugee!” She went up to him and said: “Can you believe the Secretary of State is a refugee?” She added, “We are great, we don’t need to be great again, we just need someone who understands this about America.”


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

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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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Dispatch from the NAFSA I, II, and IV Tri-Regional Conference in Denver

November 9th, 2017

Denver

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI) attended the NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Tri-Regional conference this week in Denver.

855 international education professionals joined together to discuss issues surrounding the applied comparative education arena and looking toward to future to build bridges to advocate for our profession. The excellent conference held nine workshops, 131 professionals from all variety of services, 35 states represented, 115 poster sessions, the exhibition hall had record-breaking numbers with a total of 80 exhibitors, and they closed with a silent auction gala on the last evening.

From the Tri-Regional Conference website, it states that the NAFSA Region I, II, IV Tri-Regional Conference will bring sessions on current topics, established best practices, and emerging trends facing international educators in these regions.

Region I is comprised of the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington. Region II is comprised of the states of  Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming. Region IV is comprised of the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota.

Dr. Esther Brimmer, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, welcomed a large group of interested participants at breakfast on the first day of the conference.

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NAFSA Executive Director, Dr. Brimmer & Laura Sippel, ACEI’s Director of Marketing

As Dr. Brimmer welcomed the group, she expressed three ways we can build bridges to help move international education forward. First, she indicated that we need to keep honing our skills as international educators, secondly, building relationships and expanding our knowledge of working with colleagues, and lastly, being a collective community brings us together to improve our communication.

She indicated that learning about new techniques to address issues we face today will bring us together. “By joining together to be a bold voice to advocate for our field builds strong bridges for our international students,” Brimmer said. “We have to build on three levels: local, regional, and national. When we look to each other, we find strength and get tools to be a part of the solution. We have the tools to build a strong bridge and it will withstand the new challenges and we will have a more welcoming United States.”

Dr. Brimmer continued to ask what powerful and positive stories we can tell on our campuses, provide stories that resonate with our field, and that we build bridges together. She said we face roadblocks, but by speaking to State Representatives about the general climate for immigrants, we create a vibrant, diverse community.

The conference held several sessions providing trends, issues, best practices, and tools in our field.

ACEI held a lively “spin-the-wheel” to win a prize!  Many attendees stated this was the best way to get attendees involved and make new contacts and stay in touch with dear colleagues.

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The NAFSA Tri-Regional conference held individual state meetings and Dr. Brimmer personally attended the Region II (Arizona) state meeting, addressing the special needs of each state.

“NAFSA is dedicated to learning about our needs and providing ways to move us forward. I’m looking to the future and what helps our field in the first place,” Brimmer said. “We cannot be experts about your states, but we have a state-level tool kit. We can give back to our regions to be a part of such an amazing field.”

The well-attended business luncheon recognized leaders and emerging leaders of our field and indicated we are stronger than ever. The Conference Chair thanked all the people possible for making this great conference possible.

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NAFSA Luncheon

The conference concluded with an elegant silent auction and gala. This conference broke attendance records and indeed built bridges for our profession in Denver. ACEI had a very productive conference!

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Laura Sippel
Director of Marketing
Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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Dispatches from the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA: A photo journal

June 1st, 2017

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This week, NAFSA, the world’s largest association dedicated to international education and exchange, brought together a diverse and vibrant community of nearly 10,000 global leaders and colleagues at its Annual Conference & Expo right here in ACEI’s backyard, Los Angeles.

More than 107 countries have been represented in a setting that emphasized the message, “We build bridges, not walls.”

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Marina Maligana of NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)
with ACEI Marketing Director, Laura Sippel

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Marina Maligana of NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)
with ACEI President, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA President Ester Brimmer

NAFSA President Ester Brimmer at the opening plenary spoke on how as international educator, we are part of the solution. “We need to stay calm and stay woke,” she said in light of the current political climate. “We need to building bridges, not walls,” she added. Question she posed to the conference attendees was whether the “U.S. will see itself as part of the global community or pursue the path of isolationism.” She stressed the importance of “keeping the U.S. an open and welcoming place.”

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NAFSA Opening Plenary Speaker Isabel Wilkerson

NAFSA Opening Plenary  Speaker Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of New York Times bestseller, “The Warmth of Other Suns.” Ms. Wilkerson gave a moving and inspiring speech and shared excerpts of the presonal stories she had gathered for her book from the African American communities who had migrated from the American south during the Jim Crow era to the North, Northeast, and as far as the West, Hawaii and Alaska. Ms. Wilkerson message was that “we are one species and we in this together, we are not the social constructs that are forced on us.”

At ACEI, we agree with NAFSA’s message of diversity and inclusion and we want to stay globally engaged and educated.

We will pledge to protect our core values, as Americans, which include freedom, opportunity, and welcome.

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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Dispatches from NAFSA 2016 Denver, Colorado

June 2nd, 2016

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The 2016 NAFSA: Association of International Educators’ annual conference was held in Denver, CO from May 29 – June 3. I was told that this year the conference had about 9,300 attendees which is a lower than last year’s 10,000 plus that was held in Boston, MA.  But, this still is a healthy turnout considering it is next to impossible to run into the same person twice given the scale and scope of the venue.

Barely twenty minutes into my arrival in Denver four nights earlier, and I learn my uber driver is from Eritrea. He’d first told me he was from Africa but I asked him which country. He then told me he is helping his sister, a high school graduate in Eritrea, to come and study in the U.S.  This of course prompted me to tell him about ACEI and our international credential evaluation service. I gave him my card to pass onto her. He was so happy that I knew of his country and could be of help. Made me equally happy.

I spent my first official day at NAFSA with a visit to the exhibit hall known as the International Education Expo. The large hall was a vibrant hub of more than 400 institutions, service and technology providers, and suppliers from around the globe. It felt like being at a World Fair, and in a way it was; a world fair focused on education. Clearly the message that this conference invokes is that by providing and encouraging study abroad opportunities and supporting services we are not only helping open the minds and hearts, but building bridges and breaking down prejudices.

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The International Education Expo, NAFSA 2016, Denver, CO

The conference’s opening plenary address was given by David Brooks, the op-ed columnist for the New York Times. As a senior fellow at the Yale University Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Brooks often focuses on topics connected with higher education and international affairs. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend his address but heart it was inspiring.

The Wednesday, June 1st Plenary address was given by Bryan Stevenson who is recognized as a visionary legal scholar, advocate, and champion for social justice. He is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization committed to fair and just treatment for all people in the U.S. legal system. A quote from Stevenson’s address that I jotted down was that “we must do uncomfortable things to change the world through education.” If we want to see change, we need to get out of our comfort zone.

The Thursday, June 2nd Plenary address was given by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a journalist and author who focuses on the evolving roles of women throughout the world. She is a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations and writes frequently about empowering women in developing countries through economic investment.  A couple of quotes that are worth noting and remembering from her address include: “What binds us is more important than what divides us” and “education is the great leader…all of a sudden you’re in a world where there is no difference between you and them.” Couldn’t agree more.

One way to participate in NAFSA, besides an attendee, or as an exhibitor, is to be a presenter. I was fortunate to have been part of two presentations: 1) Credentials Fraud and Diploma Mills – A Global and Growing Problem, which I co-presented with Drew Feder from Credentials Consultants, in Houston, TX and 2) Fighting Back Against Misconduct in the Academic Space which I co-presented with Teresa Axe and Michelle Hampton of Education Testing Services (ETS), Princeton, NJ, and Jonathan Burdick from the University of Rochester, NY. Both sessions were well received with great questions from the audience. The session I presented on Credentials Fraud and Diploma Mills had more than 100 attendees and the room was filled to capacity, so much so that people were being turned away. Clearly, Credential Fraud and Diploma Mills are a hot and timely topic, as more and more bogus institutions continue to pop up offering fake degrees for a price duping the public. For those who may have missed the presentation and those who attended and interested to have a free copy of our PowerPoint, please go this link on our website.

Besides the wonderful and inspiring plenary speakers, NAFSA conference program offered a plethora of sessions making it next to impossible to see and hear everything. If only we could clone ourselves and be at more than one session at the same time!

All and all, the NAFSA annual national conference is a great way to establish new partnerships, participate in networking opportunities, learn something new (even for us old-timers) and most importantly reconnect with friends/colleagues you’ve known for many years. The opportunity of seeing colleagues face-to-face whom throughout the year you engage with by Skype/phone/ email, text and social media is priceless and what makes the conference worthwhile and memorable.

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L-R: Robert Watkins, UT Austin, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, ACEI, William Paver, FCES, Zepur Solakian, CGACC, Kirstin Baker, GPS.
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L-R: Jackie Chu, University of New Haven, Solakian, CGACC, Madjid Niroumand, OCC

It’s time to say goodbye to NAFSA and Denver and head back to Los Angeles. The good news is, next year, the conference will be in Los Angeles, our very own backyard!

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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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10 Takeaways from the 2015 NAFSA Region XII Conference in Honolulu, HI.

October 30th, 2015

Honolulu

The annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators Region XII Conference this year was held in Honolulu, HI and like years past, ACEI demonstrated its presence by having a booth at the Exhibit Hall and presented a conference session. Here are a few interesting facts about Oahu, NAFSA’s Region XII, the 2015 conference and our overall takeaway.

1. Oahu is an island in the mid-Pacific, part of the Hawaiian island chain and home to the state capital, Honolulu. Highlights of the city include historic Chinatown; the Punchbowl, a crater-turned-cemetery; and Waikiki, the iconic beach, dining and nightlife area. West of Honolulu is Pearl Harbor, site of the 1941 bombing attack and home to the USS Arizona Memorial

2. NAFSA is a professional association with a national and international membership for those working as international student advisors at U.S. public and private schools and institutions of higher education, as well as credential evaluation companies, international student recruiters, study abroad program providers, ESL schools, insurance companies, immigration lawyers and organizations offering services to international students.

3. Region XII of NAFSA convers the following States in the U.S.: California, Hawaii, and Nevada.

4. Over 500 members had registered and were in attendance at this year’s Region XII Conference. This is a healthy number, since a few years ago, barely 120 people had attended the conference held in San Diego.

5. Tuesday, October 27th, our Director of Communications, Yolinisse Moreno and I joined colleagues, Perry Akins Chairman of ITEP , Sharif Ossayran of President of Ascension Zepur Solakian of CGACC and Judy Judd Price, Deputy Executive Director of NAFSA, for dinner. Our conversation quickly veered into current events, politics, history and related books. We may not have solved world’s problems, but we each left with a list of must-read books!

6. My session “Diploma Mills & Fake Degrees: A Global Problem and Threat,” was scheduled on the program for Thursday, October 29th. I learned that a topic exactly like mine on Diploma Mills was being presented by another person a day earlier. Needless to say, having the same topic presented by two different presenters is something I’ve never experienced or witnessed before. Having served on NAFSA’s Southern District Region XII Committee and on its national conference planning team, I can say with confidence that programming two identical sessions was an absolute no-no. In fact, in such cases, conference programmers either choose between duplicate sessions on a first come, first served basis or invite both presenters to consider collaborating and presenting jointly.

7. Despite the duplicate programming issue, my presentation on Thursday was a success and those who attended, though not the large number that would have been expected had there not been a similar session presented the day before, found the talk highly informative and entertaining.

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Session on Diploma Mills & Fake Degrees presented by Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, President & CEO, ACEI

8. ACEI’s booth was also quite a hit with all of our fun island-themed swag intermingled with our serious literature on our evaluation, translation, and training services as well as our calendar of upcoming webinars. (To stay updated on our services and upcoming webinars, please click here.)

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Yolinisse Moreno, Director of Communications, ACEI

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View of the exhibit hall

9. Everyone’s favorite ACEI giveaway was our stress ball shaped like a pineapple. We had brought a couple hundred of them and they disappeared in less than 2 days!

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A parade of pineapples to relieve you of your stress!

10. Having Honolulu, HI as a conference destination was a great draw, though at times, dressed in our “casual” business attire, I felt like I was crashing someone’s family vacation! It was difficult to not stray from the conference hall. The warm breeze and our senses being bombarded by aromas of coconut infused sunscreens wafting by as we made our between hotel buildings to our meeting rooms were seductive temptations! However, despite the temptations of paradise, meetings and conference sessions were very well attended as was the exhibit hall where we reconnected with colleagues and regular clients of ACEI and made new connections. We look forward to next year’s Region XII conference in Palm Spring, CA.

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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