In May of 2014, I had the privilege to attend to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) Annual conference in San Diego, California representing Florida National University, and I must say Dean Guillermo Araya and I had a very productive week. This conference had in attendance close to 10,000 people from over 90 different countries. It was a place where people networked, created partnerships, assisted informative sessions, and toured the exposition hall, among many other things. The expo hall consisted of sections divided by countries and institutions within. Participants represented their culture, their flag and shared their culture with the other attendees.
I can definitely say that NAFSA was a tremendous experience, which allowed me to interact with different cultures, and it also allowed me to enhance my knowledge in order to improve in my job performance. Being surrounded by international educators that share the same passion for their job is quite fascinating. This conference confirmed to me that internationalization is the leading force that runs the world we live in, and it is a great satisfaction to know that education plays such a huge role in this process.
I would like to mention the plenary session hosted by guest speaker Anna Deavere Smith – actress, playwright, university professor – author of the book “Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts-For Actors, Performers, Writers, and Artists of Every Kind” . In this session Anna Deavere created an original dramatic presentation for the NAFSA conference, mimicking the voices of international educators about how international education can be a method for change to improve intercultural understanding. In other words, this session explained how an educated mind will know how to ask for forgiveness and will also know how to forgive. The ultimate message of this session was that world peace is something that we can all achieve by coming together.
Furthermore, I was also able to assist one of many sessions on social media. As we all know, social media is something that is also part of this internationalization process taking place worldwide. This session discussed how most people around the globe have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn among many other networks. Though there are countries such as China that do not have these same networks, they still have what is “equivalent” to these (see picture below). I found this session very interesting since it explained how to use these networks effectively in order to broaden our reach. One of the tips they gave was that a post should not contain more than 80 characters, and to always add a smiley at the end. Something simple yet not something we all do. Additionally, they mentioned that it is important to try to find “Ambassadors” (students that will post events, news, and pictures about events taking place in their institution). I found this startling since FNU’s International Student Club is in search for these students, and this just ratifies that we are on the right track.
I would like to conclude this brief summary of my experience at the NAFSA Annual Conference 2014, by showing you some pictures, and by advising you to always keep in mind that education does open doors to the future and it will provide you with a specific role in this internationalization process taking place around our globe. Do not miss out on education because it is something that definitely pays off and will be yours for ever.
Story and Photos by: Ms. Rommy G. Saavedra
International Relations Officer
Florida National University