Recap of NAFSA 2018 & Gearing up for NAFSA 2019 Conference

By Shanna Saubert posted 06-27-2018 05:04 PM

It's hard to believe that it's been a month since the beginning of the NAFSA 2018 Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The NAFSA Annual Conference is truly a unique event. Bringing together over 9,600 international educators from 103 countries for a week, the 2018 conference included: 218 sessions, 96 open meetings, 40 workshops, 14 poster fairs, 11 signature programs/special events, and 7 guest speakers, along with an Expo filled with hundreds of exhibitors from across the world. As stated on the NAFSA website, 
The 2018 annual conference theme, “Diverse Voices, Shared Commitment,” highlights the value and power of diverse voices that lead to more authentic collaborations and speak to alternative narratives that challenge our old ideas and make us think about new solutions and opportunities. But multiple voices without a shared commitment is cacophony—it lacks the power of collaboration, mutual trust, and a desire to meet challenges together.
The NAFSA Annual Conference is a unique forum of attendees from many professional and geographic perspectives and backgrounds. Despite differences, conference attendees share a very strong commitment to the core values of international education—providing a welcoming and supportive environment for the success of generations of students and scholars.
Individuals were drawn to content specific to and relevant across the five Knowledge Communities (i.e., Education Abroad; International Education Leadership; International Enrollment Management; International Student and Scholar Services; Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship), highlighting programs and initiatives from across the 11 regions of NAFSA alongside perspectives from outside the United States. Sessions drew on a wide range of topics covering everything from incorporating global learning into the curriculum and cocurricular programming to immigration/visa regulations and strategic plans for campus internationalization, bringing together both theoretical and practical implications for international education in the United States and abroad. Networking was also important as opportunities abounded with receptions, luncheons, and (often impromptu) conversations between attendees in the hallways, Expo hall, and before and after the plenary sessions. 

I was lucky to be able to go to multiple events during the week - a couple sessions presenting individual and institutional research, the open discussion on research held in the TLS networking center, the International Education Research poster fair, some Signature Events, and a couple of receptions. Even though it was my fifth NAFSA Annual Conference (sadly, I cannot get away with wearing the "First Timer" ribbon on my conference badge), I am continually amazed at the wide range of topics, perspectives, and people that are present at each year's conference. I continue to meet up with old friends and colleagues while each year meeting new people and building connections over inspiring conversations. Everyone has their own conference plan and reasons for attending but the one connection between all attendees is the focus on international education.

Every year there is new content to explore with different topics and implications for the field, filling noticeable gaps in the scholarship from previous years and building foundations for theory and practice for years to come. I would encourage anyone, whether inspired by the 2018 conference in Philadelphia or that couldn't make it for whatever reason, to consider submiting a proposal for either a session, a workshop, or a poster at the NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference will take place May 26 - May 31, 2019 with the theme of "Global Leadership, Learning, and Change." Proposals for workshops and sessions are due by August 29, 2018, whereas proposals for posters are due January 9, 2019.

Finally, if anyone has anything they would like to highlight from the NAFSA 2018 Annual Conference (intriguing sessions, innovative posters, individual shoutouts), please feel free to comment below or use the hashtags #NAFSA2018 and #NAFSAResearch on social media to keep the conversation going.