By Kate Moore posted 06-18-2020 03:00 PM


More acronyms? And particularly one as difficult to pronounce as ISLRA?!


We couldn’t let today’s NAFSA Member Interest Group launch go by without embracing the alphabet soup that is international education. 


Grab your bingo card (ISLRA_MIG_Acronym_Bingo.pdf), mark the “Space for You!” and read on for a scan of past, present and future iterations of this community.


NAFSA: Association of International Educators was founded in 1948 and is based in the United States with a worldwide membership. Peer organizations include those is the Asia Pacific (APAIE), Europe (EAIE), and Canada (CBIE). These associations work to advance international education (IE) including – but not limited to – education abroad, inbound exchange, and internationalization at home.  


As Education Abroad (EA) programming began to offer more Experiential Education (EE), the WIVA (Work, Internships, and Volunteering Abroad) Subcommittee was founded in 2001. Research was explicitly incorporated within the applied learning portfolio when the subcommittee was renamed WIVRA (Work, Internships, Volunteering and Research Abroad) in 2015.


Over the decades, the WIVA / WIVRA Subcommittee has been incredibly active sharing best practices through presentations and publications, building community through open meetings and informal networking, as well as connecting questions or topics to resources through online postings and in person discussions.


Learning beyond the classroom to augment education abroad continues to be one of the fastest growing areas of international education, and the latest iteration of the WIVA/WIVRA Subcommittee was launched as the ISLRA (Internships, Service Learning and Research Abroad) MIG in 2020.


The Year 2020 has brought unprecedented changes and challenges. (And a necessary side note: As of this writing, how is it only June? And why does ‘unprecedented’ seem like such a cliché understatement?) It is an understatement but must be said. Communities throughout the world are grappling with crucial issues related to health, economy, race, society, and environment.


There had already been major changes on the horizon, spurred on by new technologies and generational shifts. Those changes in the way we work and the type of work we do have been accelerated.

The impact of that accelerated change has been particularly pronounced at IHEs (Institutions of Higher Education) and acutely felt by those who bridge campus with career or community and connect global to local. As we look towards innovation at a time of disruption, there is even greater need to connect and collaborate within our campuses or communities and also with associations focused on similar work (such as ACEN, Campus Compact, CEWIL, The Forum on Education Abroad, IARSLCE, ICA-Africa, IEAA, NACE, NASPA, NSEE, and many others!)


The MIG (Member Interest Group) approach allows greater flexibility for connection and participation, including linkages to those outside the field of international education who are not members of NAFSA, or even hearing about the association for the first time!


This introduction also serves as an invitation for your participation. Whether you are leading a working group, sharing a link to a resource, coordinating a session, hosting informal networking, posting a question, or signing up to receive information...thank you. We are grateful that you are part of this community and appreciate the connection.


ICYMI, this is your ISRLA MIG. Fluency in Acronyms not required (but hard to avoid!)