New Connections in New Orleans!

Last month Deborah Morrison, who heads up North and South America University Partnerships for Virtual Internships attended–live and in-person–the 40th Anniversary gathering of the Association of International Educators and Employers (AIEA 2022) in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Buoyed by the buzz of being back to on-site–and maybe some background jazz–presentations, conversations, and networking were full-on with three jammed-packed days of learning and connecting.

With current global uncertainties, the conference theme: Why the Internationalization of Higher Education Still Matters rang especially true–as most educators and support staff encourage students to experience as much of the world as possible in order to learn from each other and maintain international harmony. Subthemes of DEI, equal access, social justice, and new knowledge development particularly appealed to Deborah, given her remit at Virtual Internships to provide career-enhancing remote internship opportunities for any and all students.

Among the presentations that Deb attended, a couple stood out sharply as they discussed topics close to the Virtual Internships ethos and preoccupations:

  • Leveraging Technology as a Tool for Innovating and Expanding Campus Internationalization with participation from Boise State’s Gonzalo Bruce, Juana Sales from Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, and Donna Anderson and Deena Mansour both from Montana State University.
  • Keeping Our Promise: Employment-Based Experiential Learning Opportunities for International Students, presented by Jeff Cohen of the University of Washington, Tacoma, Svetlana Filiatreau from Virginia Tech, Susan Allen from the University of British Columbia and once again Donna Anderson.

The manageable size of the conference made connection opportunities accessible and facilitated many good discussions. Sponsored happy hours and other social events added to the meet-and-greet chances. And with Mardi Gras happening just a few blocks away, the atmosphere was collegial and festive.

Deb’s new connections were numerous, but she had standout conversations with:

  • Luchen Li, Associate Vice President for Global Education at Goucher College 
  • Jon Stauff, Assistant Vice President for International Affairs at South Dakota State University
  • Megan Francis, Assistant Dean in the Office of International Programs in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

With many unresolved issues affecting much of the world at the moment, it’s great to know that the important work of exposing young people to other cultures and communities through experiential learning continues to make strides in connecting people across languages and borders to give hope for a unified and peaceful world.

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