More than 8,000 educators, advisors, scholars, and counselors attended the Association of International Educators' 63rd annual NAFSA conference from May 31 to June 3. The conference offered dozens of workshops and seminars on international education, providing an unparalleled forum for hammering out agreements between educational institutions, spotting new trends in international education, and plain, old-fashioned networking.
There is burgeoning understanding that educational advising and international academic exchanges are increasingly recognized as important tools for building long-term relationships between citizens of the United States and other countries. Caryn Danz, Branch Chief for Educational Advising in the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, says, “Educational advising has become much more of a strategic objective as we've come to understand how important it is to reach the younger generations in every country; to help them better understand the United States; to help Americans better understand the world; and to gain global literacy for the 21st century economy.”
Representatives from more than 100 countries came together for the conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre, the same site that was home to the International Broadcast Centre during the 2010 Winter Olympics. The NAFSA convention continued to carry the torch of international understanding, but with its own distinct stamp, emphasizing international educational opportunities. EducationUSA, the Department of State-supported network to promote higher education opportunities in the United States, represented the United States at an expanded 2011 pavilion.
EducationUSA advisors from around the globe met individually with thousands of U.S. college and university representatives during the five-day conference, guiding them on opportunities to recruit students from their countries and offering on-the-ground services to reach international students. They explained the higher education systems in their countries to U.S. college and university representatives, the U.S. system to the foreign university representatives, and served as liaisons to promote partnerships between foreign and U.S. institutions.
Tens of thousands of Canadians study in the United States, but there is still plenty of growth for educational exchange between the two countries. Those of us in Mission Canada saw this year's NAFSA conference as a target of opportunity to learn how we can expand our outreach to potential international exchange students.
Staffers from the Public Affairs Section at Embassy Ottawa joined our Vancouver Public Affairs operation to attend NAFSA sessions, meet EducationUSA advisors, and confer with colleagues from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. We are still digesting the volumes of information that we gathered and looking for ways to expand resources that will help Canadian students find the right educational opportunities in the United States.
Additional information about EducationUSA can be found here.