March 2017 update: Looking for the 2017 NAFSA discount codes?
Two weeks ago, Go Overseas announced a partnership with NAFSA to encourage more international educators to become NAFSA members and attend this year's NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo in Boston. The response from our community for the first time attendee discount and membership discount has been enthusiastic.
Our community of international educators have asked us a number of questions, including, "How did the NAFSA / Go Overseas partnership come about?" and "I've heard of NAFSA, but tell me specifically why I should attend?".
However, we wanted to take a moment and tell the story behind the partnership and to provide further background on how this partnership evolved and, ultimately, why you should attend NAFSA 2015!
Where Did the Idea for this Partnership Come From?
When NAFSA 2014 in San Diego was winding down last year, Tucker (a Go Overseas co-founder) turned to Mitch (another co-founder) and said, "NAFSA is such an incredible and inspiring conference, more of our partners need to be here."
NAFSA's huge impact and reach serves the international enrollment management, international students and scholars, education abroad, campus internationalization, and global learning communities. However, a number of other growing and vitally important organizations would also benefit from being present at NAFSA.
For example, volunteer abroad programs, smaller language schools, gap year programs, and teach abroad programs all play a role in international education.
We should know; Go Overseas has strong, positive relationships with many of these wonderful organizations, and we wanted to help them attend NAFSA and form new partnerships.
With the above in mind, we reached out to NAFSA with two ideas:
- We wanted to encourage new people to attend NAFSA by providing a discount to first time attendees.
- We wanted to help new organizations exhibit at NAFSA through a sort of group pavilion -- modeled after country-style pavilions -- where these organizations could have smaller exhibition tables. This Go Overseas Pavilion would help connect the current 10,000+ NAFSA attendees with new, great organizations who run wonderful programs and would be our first step in widening the NAFSA tent to include hundreds of organizations from other areas of international education.
How Did the Partnership Form?
We initially reached out to NAFSA's Associate Director, Frank Merendino (now at Shorelight Education). Frank, truly one of the rising leaders in the NAFSA world, connected us with executive leaders such as Alan Williams and Leslie Taylor. Together with Alan, Leslie, and Frank, we all collaborated to make this partnership a reality.
Most recently, we've worked closely with NAFSA's Senior Director of Marketing, James Mahoney. Throughout, we've been impressed with how much importance everyone at NAFSA places on the continued growth of their community of international educators. NAFSA truly cares about increasing the accessibility of the conference and membership.
Ultimately, all international educators are working together to achieve the NAFSA mission:
NAFSA believes that international education advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals, and builds leadership for the global community.
NAFSA's mission closely aligns with Go Overseas' values, and we're proud to be working with NAFSA. We believe having new organizations in the NAFSA world will bring fresh ideas and result in a stronger NAFSA.
Who Should Attend NAFSA?
We might be a bit biased in saying that everyone in the field of international education should attend the NAFSA Conference. With 10,000+ attendees, nearly every important organization in the field is in attendance, which ultimately brings together some of the best and the brightest international educators from around the world.
We speak from experience when we say that it's invigorating to be surrounded by these policy makers, in-the-trenches study abroad staff, and new companies thinking innovatively about how to increase international exchange. When it comes down to it, we are all there for the same mission -- getting more people to see the world (and ideally returning home both inspired & with a fresh perspective).
Practically speaking, NAFSA is the place for business development if you're involved in -- or connected to -- international education. From NAFSA-run networking events to country hosted parties (looking at you, Brazil) you're bound to meet hundreds of people to connect with.
The Expo Hall alone hosts 400+ exhibitors representative from over 100 countries. NAFSA hasn't released the final exhibitor list for 2015, but this list from 2014 should give you a good idea of what to expect.
The NAFSA-run networking events provide ample opportunity to identify and segment potential partners. Looking to leverage your program by collaborating with community colleges? NAFSA has member interest groups (MIGS) which allow you to network with specific types or institutions, or people interested in a particular country.
Knowledge Communities (KCs) are groups that offer a gateway into defined areas within the field of international education. Even better, tech-savvy NAFSA has conference app that allows you to search for and reach out to attendees to schedule meetings pre-conference.
People also attend NAFSA as much for the networking opportunities as for the inspiration. 2015's plenary speakers include author Malcolm Gladwell, social entrepreneur Shiza Shahid, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Ishmael Beah, and Nobel Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman. After listening to such renowned speakers, you're bound to walk away feeling empowered.
In addition to the illustrious speaker lineup, you'll have the opportunity to meet thousands of people who are passionate about changing the world through travel, which is inspirational in and of itself.
If you're new to NAFSA (and taking advantage of the Go Overseas 20% discount) make sure you check out their first timers session. Better yet, swing by the Go Overseas Pavilion (booth 1206) in the Expo Hall anytime and we can help point you in the right direction.
Can’t Make it to NAFSA?
Even if you can't make it to the national conference this year, NAFSA Membership is another option you can consider for your organization. Becoming a member is the best way to be plugged in to everything that is happening in the realm of international education year round.
You’ll have access to a community of 10,000 in the field and be kept in the loop for networking events across the country. By using the code "GO20MBR" you'll receive a nice 20% discount off your first year of NAFSA membership.
Innovation at Its Finest
We're always looking for new ways to collaborate with our partners. NAFSA MIGs are the ideal platform for networking and resource creation. Stay tuned for news about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship MIG coming soon (and shoot me an email if you would like to be involved!)
See You in Boston!
If you are planning on attending NAFSA in Boston be sure to reach out to Mitch, Tucker, Mallory, Anna, Jessie, or Mandi. We’d love to meet with your while you’re at the NAFSA Convention! You can find us at the Go Overseas Pavilion (booth 1206), along with our partner exhibitors African Impact, IVHQ, Greenheart Travel, The Intern Group, CRCC Asia, National Credit Reporting, and Project Travel. Safe travels everyone, and may the spirit of international education be with you. Always.