Dealing with the Elephant in the Room: US Nationalism

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I will be participating in a session, along with Ryan Buck, Texas State University, and Lee Lambert, Pima Community College (AZ) on US nationalism as an obstacle to the development of global citizenship at the 2017 AIEA (Association of International Education Administrators) annual conference, which takes places from 19-22 February in Washington, D.C.

Nationalism stands in the way of creating global citizens, but it is the subject few involved in international education in the United States want to speak about.  This session focuses on an essential yet neglected facet of international education, as it applies to both US American and international students: a mindset that transcends competencies and skill sets, how to overcome nationalism in pursuit of global citizenship.

Lee has been Chancellor of Pima Community College since July 1, 2013. Before coming to PCC, Lee was President of Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, WA. He also has served as Vice President for Human Resources and Legal Affairs at Centralia College in Centralia, Wash., and as Special Assistant to the President for Civil Rights and Legal Affairs at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.

Ryan is Assistant Vice President for International Affairs at Texas State University.  Before joining Texas State University, he served as the Executive Director of International Student Affairs at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. His portfolio included International Student and Scholar Services, International Education and Global Engagement (study abroad), international marketing and outreach, international admissions, the American Language Academy, and international partnerships, agreements and programs.

The 2017 AIEA Annual Conference focuses on the interplay between boundaries and connections in internationalization. International education leaders must negotiate boundaries due to cultural differences, wide-ranging institutional structures, divergent motivations and meanings, and distinct resource allocations – all of which vary from institution to institution, and nation to nation.

Boundaries create silos which, as Gillian Tett explains (in The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers, 2015, Simon & Schuster), present both problems and possibilities for advancement. Silos can create blinders and tunnel vision, discourage progressive thinking, reinforce status hierarchies, and foster skill sets that are epistemologically static and difficult to expand.

On the other hand, utilizing and sometimes repositioning silos can be productive by encouraging strategic thinking and avoiding inward looking approaches and proprietary impasses. (Source:  AIEA website)

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Riding the Wave: An Update on Student Recruitment in Vietnam

Below is an announcement about an unofficial pre-NAFSA 2017 annual conference seminar that I’ll be leading in Los Angeles. 

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Riding the Wave: An Update on Student Recruitment in Vietnam

A Pre-NAFSA Annual Conference Seminar

Co-Sponsored by Cal State, Long Beach, Cal State, Los Angeles, & Study in the USA

Date:  Monday, May 29, 2017                                                      Time: 10 a.m.- 12 noon

Seminar Leader:  Dr. Mark Ashwill, Managing Director, Capstone Vietnam

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Content:  A comprehensive overview of current market conditions, recruitment tools and techniques and different types of recruitment strategies.

Location:  California State University, Los Angeles, Downtown Center (Address will be provided to participants.)  Refreshments will be served.

Free of charge

Follow this link for online registration

Eligibility:  Only regionally accredited institutions may participate, in accordance with Capstone’s policy.

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US Mission Viet Nam Response to Open Letter to Vietnamese Parents & Students

Below is a response I received from Molly Stephenson, Counselor for Public Affairs, US Embassy, and Matthew Wall, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General, in response to an “open letter” I wrote last December to Vietnamese parents and students who may be concerned about the outcome of the US presidential election.  Reprinted with permission.

This takes on added importance in light of Trump’s immigration ban that targets seven (7) predominantly Muslim countries.  My article was written for Vietnamese parents and students with an interest in study in the USA but my sentiments apply to all current and prospective US-bound international students.

Follow this link to read the English and Vietnamese versions, published by University World News and Hotcourses Vietnam, respectively.

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Dear Dr. Ashwill,

The U.S. Ambassador and the U.S. Consul General asked us to respond on their behalf.

We appreciate your efforts to reassure Vietnamese families that the doors to U.S. higher education remain wide open.  This is an important message, and your post compliments and amplifies U.S. Mission Vietnam’s messaging on this topic.  We also note that the specific themes you raise in your University World News posting echo the views of the many American university leaders who have met with us since our presidential election.

We sincerely hope that the Open Doors data from Vietnam continues to climb.  We agree, as you state, that U.S. higher education institutions “strive to create and maintain an inclusive, nurturing and diverse environment in which international and U.S. students can learn, work and play together with lasting mutual benefits.”

Thanks again for your contribution to deepening people-to-people ties between Vietnam and the United States — one student at a time.

Molly L. Stephenson
Counselor for Public Affairs
U.S. Embassy Hanoi

and

Matthew E. Wall
Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Consulate General, Ho Chi Minh City

Latest Executive Order Undermines America’s Safety & Values (NAFSA)

To the students, scholars, doctors, refugees, family members and others who wonder if the United States has lost its commitment to its core values as a nation of freedom, opportunity and welcome, let me unequivocally state that American citizens will not tolerate policies such as these that undermine our values and endanger our safety. We understand that America is part of the global community, and we will raise our voices with Congress, with the White House, with the media and in our communities to continue to adhere to the principles that have always made us strongest.

nafsaI was very pleased and heartened to see this statement from Esther Brimmer, Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, about Donald Trump’s executive order banning US entry of “thoroughly-vetted refugees and citizens of seven nations in the Middle East and Africa, undermining the nation’s long-held values and making America less safe.”

In the past, NAFSA’s leadership has been hesitant to voice criticism of US government (USG) policies or actions not because the organization receives any funding from the USG but because of “relationship,” according to a reliable source.  This reflected the previous executive director’s/CEO’s management style.

For example, I don’t recall hearing an official peep from NAFSA after the US invaded and occupied Iraq based on the WMD lie.  In fact, NAFSA invited a senior State Department political appointee aka neocon to speak at its 2003 annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The gist of his speech was the one can no longer claim “to hate this government’s policies but love the country,” as if government and country were one.  I wrote a related radio commentary entitled Patriotism in Troubled Times that aired later that summer.  (It occurs to me that this applies to the current regime.  Just substitute government with president and administration.)

Follow this link to read the 30 January 2017 NAFSA press release in its entirety. Thanks to Esther Brimmer for speaking truth to power and saying what needs to be said in a forceful and eloquent manner.  The profession and the country need more people like her.

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“The turn to nativism hinders international education”

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What the United States desperately needs is more patriots and global citizens (the two are not mutually exclusive) and fewer nationalists. The golden question is how to transform the latter into the former. Can this be accomplished through education and training, or are there other factors at play that make this impossible?

Here’s my latest University World News essay, a response to a number of articles there and elsewhere that confuse nationalism with nativism.  (Note:  The title was supplied by the editor.)

My main point is that nationalism in the US is nothing new, nor is there a connection between a rise in nationalism and the ascendancy of Donald Trump.

…I would argue that the ‘turn’ is not toward nationalism, which clearly predates Trump’s election, but toward nativism, the result of populist anger about the negative effects of globalisation.

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.

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In Memoriam – Dennis Berg

Dennis F. Berg, professor emeritus of sociology whose international travels helped Cal State Fullerton establish global connections in Vietnam and China, died Jan. 19.
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Dennis Berg Facebook Profile Photo

This is a sad time indeed for those of us who knew Dennis Berg, who divided his time between Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon and southern California.  I was shocked to learn of Den’s tragic death via a Facebook post by one of his sons, Jeff:

Yesterday the world lost a great man, my Father, Dennis Berg. With great joy he helped so many, including myself, become the best version of themselves that they could become. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad!

Follow this link to read the California State University, Fullerton announcement in its entirety.

It was my privilege to know Den as a friend and a colleague.  He was a kind, warm-hearted, and gentle man who cared deeply about both countries and who touched generations of students and colleagues through his teaching, research, training, and mentorship. I, along with many others here and around the world, will miss him.

Here’s part of an email signature he once used, which tells you something about Dennis Berg and how he lived his life:

“Dance as if no one’s watching,
sing as if no one’s listening,
and live every day as if it were your last.”
—— Irish proverb.
“and tell those you love and care about
that you do every chance you get.”
——- Dennis proverb.

My heartfelt condolences to his wife, Hong Hoa, his sons, Jeff and Jason, and the entire Berg family in Viet Nam and the US.

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The key question to keep asking is, ‘Are you spending your time on the right things?’ Because time is all you have.  (Randy Pausch, 1960-2008)