Our Colonial Legacy: A Call to Action

Our Colonial Legacy: A Call to Action

For as long as I can remember, history has most often been described to me as a series of conquests and domination. The recent prolonged events in the Ukraine reinforce this storyline and the damaging results on those who are impacted. As we emerge from the COVID pandemic into an era of COVID endemic circumstances, shifting political sands, and demonstrations from those who feel unheard and unseen, the challenge stands before us:  what should our future historical narrative be? 

As international educators we have a responsibility to invest in the direction of this narrative. Studying abroad should not simply be a return to “business as usual.”  Critical questions are on the minds of students, parents, and citizens everywhere about ways to interact meaningful with each other in light of recent world events and how to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy.  In response to these questions, international educators need to foster this dialogue and help build a new reference framework.  Our promotional materials, pre-departure orientations, on-site orientations, and re-entry programming are ideal venues to engage students in the topics that will help shape how they interact with the host culture while overseas and, as a result, how they start to build the new legacy of intercultural engagement.

Some of the key questions for discussion would be:

• How do we invite new acquaintances/roommates/host families to share with us the experiences that they have had as a result of recent worldwide events?  What are ways to show empathy and understanding?

• How do we share our own experiences and utilize this opportunity as a way to find commonality across cultures?

• What can we observe about the culture we are visiting and how it is responding to current events?

• What are our takeaways to bring back to our own culture and incorporate into our interactions with friends and family at home?

These questions certainly echo general approaches that we encourage of all students while studying abroad.  The importance of these questions at this particular time in our world history take on greater meaning and are of greater urgency than ever before.  The ancient African proverb, “It takes a village…,” is never more true than today and now.  International educators, in collaboration with faculty at home and abroad, play a vital role in ensuring that these ancient words of wisdom remain on the minds of the young adults who will shape how our history moves forward.

About the author: Dr. Heidi Soneson has served as Executive Director of Office of International Education and Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Education at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and Program Director in the Learning Abroad Center at the University of Minnesota, among other positions. Her area of academic specialization is early cross-cultural encounters in non-traditional locations.

Leave a Reply

Share this on:

Sponsored ad

Sponsored ad

Sponsored ad

Sponsored ad

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.

Subscribe to Gateway Edge Newsletter & Spotlight Episodes

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.

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.