On March 1, a week after the high country of Arizona was pummeled with snow that also left some of the peaks in the otherwise warm and sunny Phoenix metro area covered in white, almost one hundred Arizona International Educators convened at Mesa Community College, Red Mountain Campus, for their annual state meeting.
The Sonoran desert environment preserved and studied at this campus provided the setting for a day of professional development and networking with the theme of “Global Leadership in a Time of Change – We Need Each Other.” A plenary panel of international education leaders from the Phoenix area discussed issues and opportunities that included “citizen diplomacy” through national initiatives connecting Arizona residents and students with international visitors and projects, the need for collaboration and innovation to guide current and future international student enrollment management, and the value and outcomes of a Fulbright-Hays grant for an intercultural “Balkan Borderlands” project that took students from Maricopa Community Colleges and Arizona high schools to Bosnia and Albania.
Breakout sessions throughout the day offered colleagues information and networking sessions on topics focused on increasing diversity, internationalization and globalization of the learning environment, international student recruiting, international student emotional and mental health, student recruiting, immigration-related regulations and information for international students, and international academic credential management.
AACRAO International staff member Ann Koenig, who works from her home in the Phoenix area, co-presented a breakout session with two colleagues, Stephen Zubia of Glendale Community College and Martha Van Devender of ECE, on using online verification systems in the processing of international student records. The trio shared guidelines for best practice in reviewing and authenticating international academic records as well as examples of online verification systems from several countries.
AIE interfaces with international educators in all levels and sectors of education. This year’s award for Distinguished Contributions to Global Initiatives acknowledged a Phoenix-area middle school’s participation in the Pennies for Peace program. Two teachers involved in the program were present to accept the award (but couldn’t stay for the full day because they had to return to their campus for lunchroom duty). All AIE awards are bestowed on the recipients with these words that are so meaningful to the international education community, “You make a world of difference.”