The Lily von Klemperer Award is an honor that recognizes education abroad professionals who, like Lily von Klemperer, have "brought other [education abroad professionals] along" in the field and who maintain the highest standards of professional ethics while sharing their skills, knowledge, and expertise with all colleagues. I had the opportunity to sit down via Zoom with the 2021 Lily von Klemperer winner, Chelsea Kindred, Vice President of Pedagogy and Curriculum at API (Academic Programs International).
BJ Titus: Is there any person or experience that significantly shaped your experience as an education abroad professional?
Chelsea Kindred: I have had a number of people who helped shape me as a professional. My first shout out has to be to the API Founding Mamas. They both founded the organization that gave me a transformational experience, but also gave me the opportunity to navigate who I am as a professional. I have held a number of different roles at API, and every time I asked to develop a new skill or try something different or innovative, these women supported me and gave me the encouragement to do so.
My second shout out has to be to NAFSA as they have played a huge role in my professional development. I joined the NAFSA Academy in 2010 so three years after graduating from collect and three years into the field. At that point, I didn’t know what professional development meant and what that meant to the field of education abroad. That really launched my development. After that Trainer Corps starting in 2011 was also a pivotal professional experience for me. I have also been able to work alongside professionals in all knowledge communities and really gain insight and understand how each Knowledge Community contributes to the overall field of international education. From all of this understanding, I have been able to cultivate my own professional path and development. NAFSA staff who have been particularly great include Caroline Donovan White, Chad Goeden and Corrie Fisher. After this, NAFSA invested in me as a member leader, starting in 2013, I was able to serve alongside amazing Education Abroad Knowledge Community chairs who invested in me as a young professional.
The other experience that shaped my professional education is traveling as road warrior for 6.5 years. Providers won’t often get celebrated for the work that it takes to survive and thrive on the road. Not only did I cement person friendships and relationships with colleagues who understand the journey along the interstates from one study abroad fair to another, I was able to learn from a diversity of people about their institutions and how those institutions were serving their students. Our work is centered on the transformative learning that happens for our students and having the opportunity to learn from amazing people abroad the US. I learned from people about how they were supporting their students was the best education I could have received in the field. I learned more on the road than I ever learned in a grad school course.
BT: One of the pillars of the LvK award is mentorship and providing mentorship. What did you get out of mentoring others and why do you think it is important?
CK: Working with our alumni for over 10 years and having the opportunity to see these students come back and help them shape their personal stories if transformative experiences, taught me so much. Build vocab, experiences we offer are complex and challenging. Everything is not unicorns and rainbows while abroad, the transformative happen in the challenges. Working with individual students to help them work through the returning process and share with others to advance our field was really invaluable. You don't need to get on a plane and go 3000 miles to engage with difference and talk to someone different. You can use the skills that you learn while abroad to people you meet here in the United States. Everyone has a story to tell and the relationship of mentor/mentee is really reciprocal.
BT: What advice do you have for newcomers to the field of Education Abroad?
CK: This year was a big challenge and change in this field. We still struggle with issues of access to this experience we all believe in and what more can we be doing to emphasize the learning that is central to our work and innovate news ways to do it. So my advice to newcomers is to let your passion fuel your work. I used to tell alumni who are getting ready to graduate college that their experience of a lifetime (their study abroad experience) was made possible in a cubicle. These alumni would say that they didn’t want to spend their work life in a cubicle, but I always remind people that there is work to be done, as there always has been, and the work will fuel your passion and your passion will fuel your work.