What Were They Thinking?
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
The Buddha’s Fifth Remembrance from his Five Remembrances (PDF download)
I’m pretty sure What Were They Thinking? is going to be the subtitle of an article about the morally odious decision to invite Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell to speak at the 2019 annual conference of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, which takes place in late May, fittingly, in Washington, D.C. The last time I used this phrase was when I first wrote about the disastrous appointment of Bob Kerrey as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam board of trustees in 2016. I had the exact same gut reaction to this message, which appeared in my inbox earlier this year.
Dr. Madeleine K. Albright and General Colin L. Powell to Speak at NAFSA 2019
NAFSA is pleased to announce that Dr. Madeleine K. Albright and General Colin L. Powell (retired) will be the Opening Plenary of the NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, May 28.
As one of the world’s most respected diplomats, Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, continues to advocate for democracy and human rights across the world, while also championing the important impact international relations and educational exchanges have on the United States today. In 1997 under President Bill Clinton, Dr. Albright was named the first female Secretary of State and became, at that time, the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government.
General Colin L. Powell, USA (retired) has devoted his life to public service having held senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations. Under President George W. Bush, Powell was appointed the 65th Secretary of State and led the State Department in major efforts to address and solve regional and civil conflicts throughout the world. He also worked at the forefront of American efforts to advance economic and social development worldwide.
Say it ain’t so, NAFSA! Surely, you can do better than the likes of Albright and Powell. As one colleague opined, “They’re aiming to impress NAFSA attendees with Albright and Powell’s ‘star power’, lies and callousness notwithstanding. You can bet your bottom dollar that no questions from the audience that are not pre-screened will be taken.” Yes, yes, sadly but not surprisingly.
If you know anything about the background of “one of the world’s most respected diplomats” and someone who “has devoted his life to public service having held senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations,” you know that I will highlight at least some of the following issues:
Albright, a nationally televised interview, and 500,000 Iraqi children who died because of US-led sanctions against that country. Death due to malnutrition and disease falls into the category of “ultimate human rights violation,” doesn’t it? In the same role, Albright did her utmost to prevent the UN from entering Rwanda to prevent the genocide that occurred in spring 1994. She is a junior varsity member of Team USA.
Powell, weapons of mass destruction, Iraq, the UN, and some shocking examples from his time as a high-ranking Army officer in the US war in Viet Nam. He is a varsity member of Team USA.
If the truth can hurt, the truth about the two of them, in particular, Colin Powell, is especially painful.
Two questions to ponder between now and then:
- With a rather large pool of outstanding speakers spanning the globe who are doing cutting-edge work in their fields, why did NAFSA choose Albright and Powell?
- What do these two have to offer to a group of international educators from the US and around the world, aside from what not to say and do, i.e., their status as negative role models?
Shalom (שלום), MAA
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
I’m excited to inform you that I’ll be participating in four (4) events at the NAFSA 2019 annual conference in late May in Washington, D.C., listed below in descending chronological order. Note: Online registration is required for the two seminars.
Shalom (שלום), MAA
4th Annual Viet Nam Recruitment Seminar at NAFSA 2019 (unofficial, pre-conference event on Monday, May 27th from 1-3 p.m. in Washington, D.C.)
The Viet Nam Recruitment Seminar consists of a comprehensive overview of current market conditions, recruitment tools and techniques, and different types of recruitment strategies, plus plenty of time for Q&A. These are challenging times for international student recruitment, including in Viet Nam, with a rapidly changing market and more competition than ever. While more Vietnamese students are opting to study overseas, a perfect storm has been brewing for some host countries, combined with a growing list of positives and pull factors for others.
The reason I began offering this free seminar starting in 2016 in Denver was that I noticed that Viet Nam, a strategically important country, was underrepresented, if represented at all, at NAFSA annual conferences. This year is no exception. Enter “Vietnam” in a keyword search in the conference schedule and let me know what you find.
Ethical Commissions-Based Recruitment: The Need for a New Way (unofficial, pre-conference event on Monday, May 27 from 3:30-5 p.m. in Washington, D.C.)
Join me, Eddie West, assistant dean, UC Berkeley Extension, and executive director, international programs, and former director of international initiatives at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and Lindsay Addington, director of global engagement at NACAC, for a brief presentation and collective exploration of ways to improve upon the current flawed model of agency-based international student recruitment.
The raison d’être for this seminar is a statement Eddie and I made in an October 2018 University World News article entitled An ethical approach to commissions-based recruitment:
The fatal flaw in commissioned recruitment is that most agents prioritise their partner schools’ interests over those of the students and parents they advise. This means that most guide or, in many cases, drive students to their partner schools because of the gold (commission) at the end of the rainbow (enrolment process).
The purpose is not to debate the merits of commissions-based recruitment but to bring together colleagues who are interested in exploring ways in which it can be made more ethical to the benefit of international students and their parents, in addition to admitting institutions and education agents.
Follow this link for more information and online registration. A heartfelt thanks to Study in the USA for its sponsorship.
Commissions-Based International Student Recruitment Agents: Is There a Better Way? (Wednesday, May 29 from 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.)
Join me, Eddie West, session chair and executive director, international programs, University of California-Berkeley Extension, and Mayumi Kowta, director, international programs, California State University Channel Islands, for a lively discussion about how the “fatal flaw” in commissions-based recruitment can be addressed.
Follow this link to see the official conference description of our session, including the abstract and the learning objectives. This is a condensed version of the Monday seminar.
Vietnamese Student Recruitment in Challenging Times (Wednesday, May 29 from 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Model Practices in International Enrollment Management Poster Fair)
Here’s the password-protected session page with resources. It will be made available to those who stop by.
Gain knowledge and insights from a foreign international educator and education entrepreneur who has lived and worked in Viet Nam since 2005. This poster session will focus on how to create and implement a proactive recruitment strategy that includes commission-based recruitment, armchair tools and techniques, and in country activities.
Poster Content: Takeaways
1) an update on the status of young Vietnamese studying overseas, including information changes in country preference;
2) an inventory and description of various non-commission-based recruitment tools and techniques; and
3) some information and caveats about commissions-based recruitment.
1) Learn about recent facts, figures, and trends related to Vietnamese students studying overseas at both the secondary and postsecondary levels;
2) learn about a wide variety of recruitment tools and techniques, most unrelated to the use of education agents;
3) be well-positioned to either improve fine-tune an existing recruitment strategy or create a new one.
If you’re planning to attend the 2019 annual conference of NAFSA: Association of International Educators in Washington, D.C. and you’re interested in this topic, mark your conference calendar!
Join me, Eddie West, session chair and Executive Director, International Programs, University of California-Berkeley Extension, and Mayumi Kowta, Director, International Programs California State University Channel Islands, for a lively discussion about how the “fatal flaw” in commissions-based recruitment can be addressed. For more information about this, check out a 10-18 article that Eddie and I wrote, An ethical approach to commissions-based recruitment.
Follow this link to see the official conference description of our session, including the abstract (also below) and the learning objectives.
More colleges and universities are contracting with commissions-based student recruitment agents than ever before. This development is great news for agents, and mostly good news for their partner schools. But for students being advised by agents the experience encompasses the good, the bad, and the ugly. Can we do better?
Shalom (שלום), MAA
While I will reserve judgement, the theme of this Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV) conference sounds like yet another example of US Americans telling others, in the case, Asian universities, how it should really be done a la Daddy knows best. Why not just New Approaches to University Education?
Or, as one colleague put it, “It’s nice to see that (Thomas) Vallely & Co have found that Vietnam is too small for their ambitions. They want all of Asia to hear their wise words about higher ed.” I wonder if there will be any criticism of US higher education as a negative role model, in some respects?
Said colleague continues: My own humble opinion is that what’s needed is a conference organized by Asians to explain to Americans how we can improve our universities. My colleagues and I could tell many, many stories about how university education in the U.S. has deteriorated over the years. In the 19th century, American colleges were at best comparable to European high schools. We might be getting back to that in the 21st century.
I wonder what advice Asian scholars would give to Americans about how to raise the level of education in the U.S. Unfortunately, in order to avoid offending thin-skinned Americans, they’d probably keep most of their thoughts to themselves, and would not say, for example, “Drop the slogans!” “Fire the bureaucrats!” “Give lower grades!” “Ignore student evaluations!” “Abolish competitive athletics!”
If FUV really valued the liberal arts tradition to which it pays lip service, it would organize such a conference. My colleague and I won’t hold our breath.
In the grand tradition of comparative studies, the US, with which the event sponsor, the Coca-Cola Corporation, and FUV are affiliated, like all countries, is a positive and negative role model, including its higher education system.
Shalom (שלום), MAA
It appears that the bloom is temporarily off the red, white, and blue rose for growing numbers of Vietnamese parents and students. For the first time ever, there are almost 15,000 Vietnamese students in Canada, nearly half as many as in the US. Vietnamese students had the highest percentage increase in 2017 at 89%, making Viet Nam the fastest growing market in the country. What steps can Canadian institutions take to build on this success in the immediate future?
I recently had the chance to speak to a group of Canadian colleagues at a well-attended general session at the 2018 CBIE (Canadian Bureau for International Education) annual conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada about two of my favorite topics, Viet Nam and Vietnamese student recruitment.
The paragraph above in italics is the abstract. As I mentioned, my April 2018 University World News article entitled Vietnamese students look at the US and head north (editor’s title) was the inspiration for this session. The focus was on steps that Canadian institutions can take to build on this tremendous success in the years to come. We had a lively discussion with lots of questions but, unfortunately, too little time to respond to all of them, as is usually the case at these conferences.
Thanks for CBIE for giving us the opportunity to speak to Canadian secondary, college, university and ESL colleagues about this important and timely topic.
Shalom (שלום), MAA
Postscript: At another session I briefly attended, which turned out to be a de facto sponsored one (the reason I left early), based on how many times one presenter mentioned his company and its wonderful products and services, said presenter – in the spirit of Schadenfreude – lobbed the following rhetorical cheap shot at the mostly Canadian audience in the hope of scoring a few brownie points with the home team at the expense of US colleagues: Our neighbors to the South are dying. While dramatic, that is hardly the case. And while the US has seen a decrease in the number of newly enrolled students from abroad and faces many challenges, it remains the world’s leading host of international students. For its part, Viet Nam ranks 5th among all sending countries with 29,788 students in the US at all levels, according to the latest (8-18) SEVIS numbers.
I recently saw this announcement on LinkedIn:
Sponsors for Educational Opportunity – Vietnam is organizing the largest career conference in Vietnam in 2018, aiming at connecting top young professionals and fresh graduates to the top-notch firms in Vietnam. We are still open to more booths at the career fair. If you are interested to boost talent acquisition at our event. please let me know.
Our partners include top notch firms such as: ABInbev, BCG, SSI, Unilever, Traveloka, McKinsey, British American Tobacco and many more.
Here are my responses and other comments:
Great conference and opportunity with one caveat: I wish organizations would not take sponsorship money from companies that manufacture products that are highly addictive, make their customers sick and, in many cases, ultimately end up killing them. There’s plenty of sponsorship money out there for worthwhile events. Don’t follow the path of least resistance and take what is essentially blood money.
Thank you for sharing chi!