Tag Archives: politics

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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Venezuela: Education in Crisis

February 1st, 2019

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Venezuela’s deep political and economic crisis is in recent news headlines with reports on daily protests, violent repression of those opposing the Madura presidency, fomenting international tensions.  For an unbiased analysis of the current situation in Venezuela, click here. In this week’s blog post, we take a look at Venezuela’s education system and how it has been impacted by the crisis.

For decades, Venezuela’s standard of education had been ranked among the highest in the region. And, although the country’s education system is overextended and underfunded, the government had remained committed to the vision that every citizen is entitled to a free education.

The Ministry of Education was and still is the authority responsible for oversight and regulation of education in Venezuela which is highly centralized. Students are required to attend school from the age of 6 and complete the first cycle known as basic education (educación básica) which is free and compulsory. After which, they can continue onto secondary school (educación media diversificada) for another two years and receive the bachiller.  Secondary students also have the option to pursue a two-to three-year specialized curriculum (educación media profesional) that leads to the award of a technical degree.

Under the 1999 constitution, higher education in Venezuela remains free with access to more than 90 institutions of higher education.  Caracas is an educational center and home to several notable universities, including the Central University of Venezuela (founded in 1721) and the National Open University (1977). Other prominent state institutions are the University of Zulia (1936), the University of Carabobo (1852), and the University of Andes in Merida (1810).

Once among the top countries in the region for its strong education system, we can see the negative effects the economic crisis has and continues to have on Venezuela’s institutions of higher education.  A 2015 report from Associated Press recounted that many faculty members were quitting jobs as they were unable to support themselves on government-mandated salaries that are as low as the equivalent of US$30 a month. According to the article, the Central University of Venezuela lost 700 faculty members out of a total 4,000, an exodus that begun four years prior to 2015. The situation has not improved.

Tense relations between U.S. and Venezuela has also hurt study abroad and student exchange programs. In September 2018, the U.S. issued a presidential proclamation outlining new restrictions to the travel ban for nationals of eight countries that include Chad, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen — and also recommended that nationals from Iraq be subjected to additional scrutiny. The restrictions imposed by the travel ban have made it difficult for Venezuelans to obtain visas as students, tourists, or for business. To see how the travel ban and the latest restrictions have affected the number of visas issued to Venezuelan students, click here. A recent article in PIE News  includes an interview with an educational counseling service based in Miami, FL that assists Venezuelan students, offers a bleak perspective on the current situation.

The interactive chart on World Inequality Database on Education created by UNESCO Institute for Statistics provides an up-to-date glimpse on the state of primary and secondary education in Venezuela.

We highly recommend this in-depth article about the state of higher education in Venezuela, the continued exodus of university faculty, and the Bolivarian University of Venezuela that was founded 15 years ago during Hugo Chavez’s presidency as an institution of higher education intended to be more inclusive and afford access to the underprivileged and poor, which too is suffering under the strains of economic austerity.

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There are also reports of massive desertion of students from universities. One report in 2017 said that close to 50% of university students had dropped out of the three public universities in Táchira.

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It’s not only public universities experiencing faculty and student desertions; private universities too report students dropping out and leaving the institutions. Not only do students and faculty blame the economic crisis for their decisions to leave the institutions but they also claim lack of academic freedom and university autonomy as additional reasons for their departure.

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We will continue to post updates on Venezuela’s education system as information becomes available.

Sources:

Encyclopedia Britanica https://www.britannica.com/place/Venezuela/Education

The Nation https://www.thenation.com/article/how-severe-is-venezuelas-crisis/

PIE News https://thepienews.com/news/education-agency-venezuela-calls-for-industry-support/

The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/30/world/americas/venezuela-maduro-protests-faes.html?rref=co               

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US Department of State: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35766.htm

World Inequality Database on Education: https://www.education-inequalities.org/countries/venezuelarb/indicators/eduout_upsec#?dimension=all&group=all&age_group=|eduout_upsec&year=|2000UNESCO

Washington Office on Latin America: https://venezuelablog.org/higher-education-venezuela-skirting-university-autonomy-creation-parallel-system/

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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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10 Facts on U.S. Immigration

January 25th, 2019

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In November 2018, the Pew Research Center, which regularly publishes statistical portraits of the nation’s foreign-born, released the results of its latest research on U.S. immigration. We would like to share a summary of this research to help answer some key questions about the U.S. immigrant population.

  1. The United States has the world’s largest immigrant population. Currently, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country representing nearly about every country in the world. (For more, click here)
  2. Today, immigrants account for 13.5% of the U.S. population, but this number remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S. (Fore more, click here)
  3. 76% of immigrants are in the U.S. legally, while a quarter are unauthorized. (For more, click here)
  4. In 2016, 45% were naturalized U.S. citizens. Approximately, 27% of immigrants were permanent residents and 5% were temporary residents in 2016. Another 24% of all immigrants were unauthorized immigrants.
  5. Mexico ranks on the top as the origin country of the U.S. immigrant population. The next largest origin groups were those from China (6%), India (6%), the Philippines (4%) and El Salvador (3%). (For more, click here)
  6. Other regions which make up a smaller share include: Europe/Canada (13%), the Caribbean (10%), Central America (8%), South America (7%), the Middle East (4%) and sub-Saharan Africa (4%).
  7. Immigrants from South and East Asia, Europe, Canada, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa are more likely than U.S.-born residents to have a bachelor’s or advanced degree.
  8. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, the United States was home to 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in 2016, a 13% decline from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. (For more, click here)
  9. Although the vast majority of immigrants in the U.S. are in the country legally, only 45% of Americans in a survey conducted by PRC in June 2018 correctly said most immigrants were in the country legally. (For more, click here)
  10. Most Americans, that is 71%, hold a positive outlook on undocumented immigrants and see them holding jobs that American citizens do not want and approximately 65% say undocumented immigrants are not more likely than U.S. citizens to commit serious crimes. (For more, click here)

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.  It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.  To learn more about Pew Research Center and its research, go to http://www.pewresearch.org.

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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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Repair America. Go, vote. 

November 2nd, 2018

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In 2004-2005, I was working in a bookstore near my college in New Delhi. Every day after classes, I would ride my motorbike and take over the shift at the store until almost midnight. During those shifts, I sold a lot of books and I read a lot of books. I also met a lot of new people. One of them was an American professor, Marie from Dallas, who strolled into the bookstore with her walking cane and her two wonderful kids. All three of them got immersed in the books, flipping pages, chatting with each other, and making their reading selections.  I could tell they loved being in the bookstore. A few minutes passed by, and Marie and I also started talking about specific readings. I think we discussed Manju Kapur’s “Difficult Daughters” and that got us started. I don’t think I had such a long conversation with an American family before. We discussed many things: education, culture, readings, travels, and more. I had read that open, informed conversations build lifelong bonds. That’s what happened on that late evening in South Delhi’s New Friends Colony Community Center. Who could name it better! I have known Marie and her family since then. Through her, I met Sandy and her family. And then many more friends and families.

After college, I got a fellowship that allowed me to study anywhere in the world on a full ride. My choice to study in the US was strongly influenced by that curious, welcoming, and smiling American family who walked into the bookstore and spoke comfortably about the nuances of culture and social experiences. For a communication major, those things mattered a lot more. Three years later, I went to Appalachian Ohio to pursue a master’s degree in International Affairs. During college, I went to Dallas to celebrate Christmas with Marie. We bought the Christmas tree together, we went door-to-door singing Christmas carols with many friends in the neighborhood. Sandy lived almost next door. A few days later, Marie and her family had to travel while I still had a couple of days to stay in Dallas. So, I stayed with Sandy. That night of 2009 was the first night of Hanukkah. I devoured on latkes that Sandy made and served with sour cream. To have Sandy’s family around was deliciously amazing!

Fast forward three years: I picked up a career in public diplomacy. Fast forward five years: I founded a company on a simple idea of connecting people with people.

Spool back in Delhi in that bookstore: I got interested in another country whose people I had met, trusted, and enjoyed talking with.

That, to me, is the highest form of citizenship and patriotism: stuff you do and words you utter that gets people to look up to your country with a sense of positivity and trust. And you end up taking life decisions based on that positivity. No foreign policy can do it. No IMF can do it. It requires a human decency to appeal to another human decency. So, folks, go out and vote this November. Vote for someone who represents your decency, and who can walk into a bookstore in a foreign land and can make the bookseller fall in love with your nation. You deserve it. America needs it. More than ever.

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Syed K Jamal is the CEO and Founder of Branta. He first came to the US as an international student before moving back to India. Since 2015, he has been living in the Seattle area with his wife, a 5-year old son, Ibru, and three cats who also came with him from India. Syed loves chai and storytelling, would love to host you for both. Email him at syed@goBranta.com.

 

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China and Africa…Building Bridges, Not Walls

September 7th, 2018

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Hello friends,

It’s been a while since I posted a blog and it hasn’t been because of a lack of material. Au contraire. Blame it on ennui, lethargy, world-weariness. I’ve been feeling disenchanted with the state of the world, especially, how overnight the U.S. went from welcoming and embracing international students and scholars, to one that is imposing even stricter visa requirements, blacklisting some countries by placing them on a travel list, and spewing rhetoric that is seen as unfriendly and inhospitable by potential students around the globe who have looked at the U.S. as the beacon of higher education. Yes, long sentence, my apologies, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve a lot on my chest and all I can think is that while we see the numbers of international students dropping at our institutions, one country is forging right ahead with its agenda of winning the hearts and minds of students in African countries. You may already know the savvy country that is ahead of the economic and diplomatic game, but in case you don’t, here is it, drum roll please….it’s CHINA!

Just this week, China pledged 60 billions US dollars to Africa with no political strings attached. Yes, you read correctly. No strings attached. You don’t believe me? Click here.
While we were celebrating our three-day Labor Day weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Monday, September 3rd, that his country would “give $60 billion in aid and loans to Africa over the next three years without asking for any political concessions in return.” Wow!

China’s pledge involves a combination of grants, low-interest loans, financial investment and trade finance. China’s state media added on Tuesday that these types of overseas commitments were presented as “aid” or “support”, which is their way of implying that the country would make no profit.

The bottom line is that this is part of China’s “soft power” drive to anchor its geo-political and economic influence throughout Africa. According to Chinese state media, in just the first half of 2018, China has spent more than Rmb270m ($40m) on “Silk Road scholarships” for students from developing countries, according to state media.

Here is a sample of some of the countries (there are plenty more, but need to keep this blog brief) that are enjoying the financial aid offered by China supplemented by opportunities in education:

Angola

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China is thinking of projects that could contribute to the development of Angola in the areas of industry, agriculture, health and education. China and Angola established diplomatic relations in 1983 and since 2002, China has become more proactive when it comes to helping Angola by financing projects to recover and build roads, railways, airports, strengthen health and education and other infrastructure that is a priority for the country’s development. In the first quarter of this year, trade between the two countries grew 22.4% to US$6.8 billion. To read more, click here.

Kenya

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China and Kenya have established many education schemes, and one is the China-Kenya Vocational Education program designed to help train students and teachers for mechanical engineering. To read more, click here.

Rwanda

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In Rwanda, Integrated Polytechnic Regional College Musanze (IPRC Musanze) is playing an important role in training technical persons in Rwanda. The college which was constructed by China Geo-Engineering Corporation based on funds received from the Chinese government, is the largest polytechnic in northern Rwanda and it is contributing to technical training in the country. To read more, click here.

Sierra Leone

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If you speak to Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, he will tell you that China has always been “a reliable friend and brother” that has stood by the country at all times. This says it all, but if you want to learn more, click here.

Tanzania

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The Ministry of Energy recently announced that it was inviting applications from candidates to qualify for Chinese scholarship opportunities for postgraduate studies in “one of China’s best Oil and Gas Universities – the China University of Geo-sciences (Wuhan).”

Uganda

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On the recent launching of a project sponsored by China that provides digital learning to rural regions in Uganda, the country’s Minster of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni, said: “This is a project that has several benefits, it will support education and encourage digital learning in rural schools by providing learning aids in form of projectors and televisions. These will be utilized to implement lessons plans and demonstrative education through videos and pictures.” To read more, click here.

Zambia

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The appreciation for China’s supports is also shared by Zambia where the country’s Higher Education Minister, Nkandu Luo, has praised the Chinese Government for supplementing government’s efforts in the education sector. For more, click here.

Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe has been sending students to study in China because it is affordable and gives the graduating students the chance to develop business connections. It makes sense, since China is Zimbabwe’s largest overseas trading company. And, as China’s visa rules don’t allow international students to remain in the country after graduating from university, the students return to Zimbabwe which prevent brain-drain. To read more, click here.

China-Africa: Soft Power Diplomacy

These are just a handful of the countries in Africa, where China has established bi-lateral relations through its “soft power” approach. China continues to award education scholarships to various African countries allowing students to study at its institutions of higher education and to return to their native lands on graduation. It’s a win win situation for all sides.

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I recently saw the big box office hit “Crazy Rich Asians”, a film about a super wealthy Chinese family in Singapore whose son is returning home to attend a friend’s wedding. He brings with him his Chinese-American girlfriend, a college professor who has absolutely no idea of his extreme wealthy origins. The film is billed a rom-com, but for me, it was a reflection of where we are today and what the future holds. Today, the number of Chinese billionaires exceed those in the United States. This is a major turning point for China which now boasts 596 billionaires – 60 more than the U.S.-  after a staggering 242 Chinese people became billionaires for the first time in just one year, according to a new survey.  There may be more Chinese billionaires, but according to the survey, those in America are richer and dominate the list of wealthiest people on the planet with Americans making up seven of the top ten. Regardless of who is the richer billionaire, at the rate China is expanding its reach into Africa, through education, manufacturing and trade agreements, it will not be for long that it will truly be a super power with Africa by its side.

Frustrated
Frustrated Evaluator

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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.

Related Links:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnXLOm0Bdd8/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=e883epcfuvxk

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/may/13/china-educating-africa-what-means-west

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/what-chinese-investment-means-for-african-higher-education

https://www.news4jax.com/news/international/chinas-president-xi-pledges-another-60-billion-for-afri

https://www.newsweek.com/why-china-giving-africa-60-billion-no-political-strings-attached-investment-1104360

https://macauhub.com.mo/2018/08/24/pt-china-estuda-novas-formas-de-investimentos-e-financiamentos-a-angola/

https://www.newsghana.com.gh/china-africa-education-scheme-helps-train-students-teachers-for-mechanical-engineering/

https://www.lusakatimes.com/2018/08/21/nkandu-luo-commends-china-for-support-in-education/

http://nilepost.co.ug/2018/08/31/more-zimbabwean-students-seek-education-in-china/

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Canada and Saudi Arabia: The Tweet that Sparked a Diplomatic Feud

August 24th, 2018

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Image Credit: Alexander Glandien

We recently learned of news that Saudi Arabia has expelled the Canadian ambassador from the country and has decided to recall its students from Canada.

What caused this diplomatic spat between the two countries? The short answer is: a tweet. It started with a tweet sent by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland criticizing the Saudi government over the detention of human rights activists.

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In response, Saudi Arabia responded by taking the following retaliatory steps:

• expelled the Canadian ambassador and announced that it would pull out more than 15,000 Saudis studying in Canada on government-funded courses or grants at colleges and universities;

• ordered a suspension of patients being transferred to Canada for medical treatment;
announced that it is suspending Saudi state airline flights to Toronto;

• on Monday, August 6th, the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau, a division of the Ministry of Education, announced on its website that by the end of the Islamic calendar year in September it will suspend all training and scholarship programs Saudi students are enrolled in at Canadian institutions;

• any accompanying family members of the Saudi students are also expected to leave Canada which according to The Business Insider could bring the number of Saudi nationals departing up to 20,000.

The Saudi government intends to place the Saudi students and their tuition in programs in other countries with similar education systems, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

No sooner had the Saudi government announced its plans to withdraw its students from Canadian institutions that we hear of a US university announcing its plans to ease admissions process for the Saudi students. Regardless of this offer, relocating so many students to other countries so close to the start of a new academic year is going to be very problematic.

Academicians also see an agenda in this latest move by the Saudi government. According to an interview in Times Higher Education with Dr. Chris Davidson, professor in Middle East politics at Durham University, he sees the transfer of students from Canada to the UK or elsewhere as complicated and costly. Dr. Davidson adds: “I don’t believe that’s their [the Saudi government’s] intention. They want to trim their bloated higher education budget by reducing the amount of students they pay to send to the West.” The Saudi government’s actions are also seen as a warning to other countries to refrain from publicly criticizing Saudi Arabia as done by the Canadian minister.

Canadian universities, especially the smaller institutions, will feel the effects of the financial loss, but they will recover since they continue to be one of leading top countries in attracting and receiving international students. It’s the Saudi students that are going to be affected the most. In an age of political overreaction, we can see that higher education is affected as much as any other entity and blameless students used as pawns.

Source Links:

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/saudi-removal-students-canada-warning-shot-us-and-uk

https://www.businessinsider.com/saudi-arabia-canada-human-rights-students-2018-8

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-saudi-arabia-to-withdraw-all-saudi-students-studying-at-canadian/

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/us-university-welcomes-saudi-students-canada

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/opinion/saudi-arabia-canada

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Political Correctness: Beware…Be Aware

February 2nd, 2018

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The ultimate stigmatization. The curse thrown across both sides of the aisle. It seems that the phrase “politically correct” may need a defender in the current climate and I’m happy to fill that role. I say first, a magic phrase that, should you use P.C. as a slur, might clear things up for you straight away. Listen up. NO ONE IS TELLING YOU WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT SAY. Political correctness isn’t a form of censorship, it’s not snowflakes with hurt feelings, and its not a trend. Political Correctness is some one or some ones telling you “Hey, what you said impacts me, or people of my group, in a way that is hurtful.” That’s it. From then on, how you choose to interpret this, and how you choose to react is on you. And there’s not always a right answer. There are times when hurting someone’s feelings is fine, as long as you take responsibility. Just understand the context. Realize the situation is probably bigger than just you or that person. Say what you want, just make sure it is what you want to say.

Political correctness, is a misnomer, and maybe that’s where we get into trouble. Perhaps if it was more appropriately called a “suggesting social awareness” (catchy right?) people wouldn’t feel as though they could play the oppressed or tough-guy card as a reaction. If they knew that all anyone was saying was “hey, I don’t know if you know this, but that makes you sound like an a–hole in this day and age”, it would be hard to react with anything but embarrassment. Unfortunately Politically correct stuck, and a movement forward became a bad word.

So ok fine you got me, Politically Correct is a slur. Fine, we can lose the phrase, language evolves right? HA! Got you! Language EVOLVES. And as such it is good to know whether or not you’re resisting the natural progress of that evolution. Think of PC as not saying Beware! rather, Be Aware! Think of PC, as my generation calls it, woke. We’re awfully good at giving cute names, my generation. But don’t let that detract from how much better a phrase it is. You’re not “correct” your awoken! It’s like the Matrix!

There’s a lot you can say for just being aware of the society around you, but it speaks for itself. The more you know, the more informed your decisions will be.  You know this. I know you do. So just keep reminding yourself of two things. 1. No one is telling you what you can or cannot do. And 2. Don’t be an a—hole.

AlexB

Alex Brenner – When he is not helping international students as ACEI’s Communications Officer, Alex puts his writing chops to work as a script doctor for Hollywood screenwriters and guest blogs for ACEI-Global. Alex has a BA in English from UCLA and has been fortunate to have travelled to many corners of the world as a child and an adult.

For further information on the international credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org.

 

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