Global Education Programming: Building Engaged Communities

Global Education Programming: Building Engaged Communities
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I personally believe that we are our best selves when we feel that we belong to a community.  Whether a close local community, a family community, or a global community, belonging somewhere connects our identity and our view of the world.  As international educators, we have a responsibility to broaden a student’s sense of community, to expand the horizon of understanding, and enrich personal, academic, and even professional perspectives.  The question we must ask ourselves is how best to achieve this goal and engage students in this community building at this time in our world history?

My own trajectory started in just this way. My family hosted exchange students when I was in high school, I studied abroad in college, I live abroad with my family, and I co-founded an organization that focuses on innovative ways to broaden and build community across cultures for US students.  Each experience expanded my sense of community and who is part of it.  Each expanded community provided me with the opportunity for new insights and personal growth.  I cannot imagine my life without these unique experiences and the challenges that led to new worlds of understanding and to where I am today.

A critical underlying philosophy of community building is the concept of access.  We can and should foster greater access to communities for all students.  Some students will choose to study abroad, some will volunteer abroad, others will engage in a virtual internship, and still others may first experience a new community through virtual programming in their classes that introduces them to new worlds – a sea turtle hatching captured on video in Costa Rica, a virtual interview with a toy maker in India, a tour of famous monuments in Florence. It is our responsibility as international educators to foster and facilitate access to these broadening experiences both through physical and virtual mobility.  Organizing education abroad programs is critical; working with faculty to incorporate virtual education abroad in the classroom is equally essential; utilizing these virtual opportunities in pre-departure orientations to help students maximize their time abroad deepens their chance for growth.  For some students, the virtual engagement will inspire participation in a study abroad program.  For other students, the virtual may be their single critical launching point for understanding our broader community. It is important that international educators not restrict themselves to a single road of access for students.  “Tried and true” runs the risk that new innovations will go unnoticed, and some students will be left behind.

Campus internationalization involves engaging students and faculty in the mission of internationalization.  This includes linkages with international students on campus to foster domestic engagement with the many international worlds on campus.  Freshman orientation is an excellent platform for intentional engagement activities to build awareness about the world.  Creating a global scholars program that allows students to explore different countries virtually gives greater access for all.  Building these activities into an honors program with a resulting certificate or virtual badge helps bridge worlds. Incorporating virtual exploration and livestream interviews into the classroom with events and people from across the globe brings learning right to students’ doorstep.

Ultimately, the more venues we foster, the more we help students experience the journey of international education, build international competency, and hopefully move to a new place as active world citizens. Maybe some of these students will even choose to follow in our footsteps and become international educators. I know first hand the great impact these experiences had on my life, the doors they opened, and the opportunities that they provided. I encourage us to continue to identify new ways to expand the number of  individuals who will have these experiences and help connect the world in a positive way.  All we need to do is think more creatively, use the tools that we have available, and continue to explore, learn, and discover in order to promote diversity, understanding, and acceptance. That is our best community. 

About the author: Christian is an entrepreneur specializing in education abroad since 2009. He co-founded Study Abroad Association and currently oversees the creation of academic virtual global content for SAA’s 360 GLE™ (Global Learning Experiences) platform. Christian has worked with over 250 institutions and helped over 12,000 students to study abroad on educational faculty-led programs.

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Episode 29: Cultural Lens on U.S. Higher Education: Analyzing International Perceptions of 'Anti-Woke’ Discourse

Dive into a nuanced exploration of the global discourse surrounding higher education in the United States. Join us for a panel discussion with esteemed international educators as we embark on a journey through the lenses of culture and international perspective, examining how global audiences interpret and engage with the ‘anti-woke’ discourse within the context of U.S. higher education. This engaging panel discussion will delve into the intersections of culture, ideology, and education, and the complex landscape of how international audiences perceive the ‘anti-woke’ narrative that has emerged within U.S. academia.

Whether you’re a senior international officer, or simply curious about the diverse viewpoints shaping U.S. higher education, this podcast episode will provide an invaluable space for critical analysis and insightful conversations.

Speaker Biography:

Fanta Aw is a distinguished leader in international education, renowned for her extensive contributions to global learning, cross-cultural understanding, and educational equity. With a deep commitment to fostering connections between diverse cultures and promoting educational excellence, she has significantly impacted the international education community.

Fanta Aw’s career has been characterized by her dedication to advancing global education initiatives, promoting diversity and inclusion, and nurturing partnerships that transcend borders. She has held influential roles in various organizations, advocating for the importance of international collaboration and learning experiences that empower individuals to navigate an increasingly interconnected world.

As a thought leader and visionary, Fanta Aw’s insights and expertise have shaped discussions on the future of international education, emphasizing the significance of equitable access, cultural exchange, and lifelong learning. Her work has not only elevated institutions but has also inspired countless individuals to embrace the transformative power of global education.

Date: September 14th, 2023
Time: 12 noon ET

Sponsored by:

Mark Beirn


An experienced global researcher and administrator, Mark Beirn brings a critical approach to risk management, factoring structural racism and identity-based violence into his rubric for supporting equitable global mobility.

Specialization Areas:

– Global Risk Management
– Education Abroad
– Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in International Education
– Health and Safety
– Curriculum Development


Stephen Appiah-Padi​


Stephen Appiah-Padi is an international educator with several years of teaching and administrative experience in both 4 and 2-year HEIs. An experienced global education practitioner-scholar, with a demonstrated history of success in the field.

Dr. Appiah-Padi has a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in Educational Policy & Administration with a specialization in International/Intercultural Education.

At Northwestern College, he provided oversight in the administration of education abroad and international student services. In Lansing, Michigan, he first oversaw diversity and intercultural education at Lansing Community College, and later created the Center for International and Intercultural Education (CIIE) which merged intercultural engagement and international education programs of the institution, and he became its first director. Additionally, Dr. Appiah-Padi taught a course, “Diversity in the American Workplace”, to undergraduate management students of the College. In his current position, he provides leadership and vision in advancing strategic internationalization initiatives, including international partnerships and study abroad programs at Bucknell University.

Dr Appiah-Padi has created and facilitated several workshops for faculty and staff development in higher education and in business organizations. He has presented at several national and international conferences. In NAFSA, among several volunteer leadership positions, he has served as Dean of the Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication Workshop, the Leadership Development Committee member, Chair of the Africa Special Interest Group, and a Fellow of the Global Fellowship Program for mentoring emerging leaders of internationalization in African HEIs. He currently serves as a member of the NAFSA Board of Directors.

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Rosa Almoguera


Dr. Rosa Almoguera has worked as an international educator for over twenty years. She was trained as a Hispanic Philologist at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, and did her M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Ph.D., from Universidad Complutense included a field study and edition of written balladry “Romancero”. During many years Rosa combined teaching and her role as a senior administrator at the Fundación Ortega-Marañón in Toledo, Spain. At the Foundation, Rosa directed and, in many cases created, programs for the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, Princeton, Ohio State, Arcadia, and the University of Chicago. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, University of Portland, and Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

Beginning in 2016, Rosa works as an international education consultant for both public and private European and US higher education institutions. Rosa has been successful in developing new partnerships and programs, as well as helping improve already existing ones.

Rosa is a member of Forum and NAFSA and has presented with higher education professionals on innovative academic and research programming, STEM in study abroad and Nationalism in Europe. Rosa is currently completing the final Professional Certification from the Forum on Education Abroad.

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