Team Spotlight: Libby Claerbout

Region IV is pleased to announce this season's "Team Spotlight" featuring Libby Claerbout, the North Dakota State Representative. We sat down with Libby recently to ask Libby questions regarding her path into international education and her goals for her position. See her responses below: 
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Region IV Team Position: North Dakota State Representative

Institution: Minot State University

How did you get interested in international education?
I studied abroad in high school and then two more times in college, earned a Bachelor's degree in French language and worked my way to becoming a serial traveler. But it wasn’t until graduate school that I discovered the field of International Education. My studies at the American University’s School of International Service were focused on intercultural communication and the movement of people across borders, and one semester I happened to stumble upon a course being offered called "Managing a Study Abroad Office." The course was taught by Dr. Fanta Aw (past President and Chair of the Board of Directors of NAFSA). Her passion about the vocation was contagious and on the first day of class I immediately felt I had found my calling.

What are some of your goals for this new position? 
One of my main goals as the state representative is to encourage networking amongst professionals within the state who work with international students/scholars, study abroad and internationalization efforts. The expansive prairie that separates most North Dakotan communities, coupled with the fact that the majority of our institutions are fairly small and staff are required to wear multiple hats, can lead to a feeling of isolation in our work. I have found great value (and satisfaction) connecting with others who understand my daily challenges and successes. I want to play a role in building a strong professional network that can provide support and guidance to professionals in our area. Part of that process will be helping spread information about NAFSA events, trainings and other opportunities.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I love history. To me, it is fun to contemplate the progression of civilizations and the assembling of knowledge. I find it interesting to compare cultures; to ponder how different belief systems have developed throughout the ages. When I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, I found these elements co-mingled in a beautiful way. The city straddles the boundary between Europe and Asia! Landmarks are thousands of years old! The rich history! The epicenter of empires!

However, my favorite memory of Istanbul can be boiled down to this: 3 individuals peacefully co-existing: a woman in mini skirt and knee-high boots, a woman wearing a hijab with her small child, and a man in a business suit all waiting for the bus on their morning commute. Such a mundane scene, but I also found it very powerful.

What is something on your bucket list?

The aurora borealis in northern Norway or Sweden. I've seen them many times in North Dakota, but they were always pale white and green. What I would love to see are the brilliant dancing blues, purples and pink colors that are more common within the Arctic Circle.