Reflections on CIEE's Study Abroad Conference in Barcelona

Authored by:
Keshia Abraham

Keshia Abraham
My time last month at CIEE’s conference on study abroad was both inspiring and fruitful.  This was the fourth year of the Presidents’ Leadership Workshop hosted by CIEE in partnership with the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Since the first year in Berlin in 2015, we've now engaged presidents from 36 MSIs across the country in discussions about how to expand study abroad opportunities for their students.
The ten outstanding presidents of Minority Serving Institutions who attended this year were a wonderfully supportive and engaged group. The camaraderie and the enthusiasm they shared for internationalizing their campuses was heartening. They really engaged with the conference as a whole, running around from session to session and making time to get to know the outstanding CIEE student alumni from the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship and other programs who were presenting at the conference.

President Wayne A.I. Frederick of Howard University, one of the first cohort of Project Passport Leaders who attended the Presidents’ Workshop in Berlin in 2015, generously donated his time to share what he has learned with this year’s attendees. Along with Tonija Hope Navas, director of the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard, he presented his experience developing a study abroad program that really fit in with Howard’s institutional priorities. He and Tonija talked about what support for campus internationalization from the presidential level looks like at Howard – how it’s not just about funding, but about integrating the value of intercultural learning into all leadership decisions and discussions.

Perhaps my favorite part of the conference was the opportunity to spend time with the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship alumni and other young alumni who attended the conference. The stories of their intercultural experiences that they shared so eloquently inspired those listening. It was satisfying to see them take advantage the professional networking opportunities at the conference and to watch people’s faces light up while talking to them.

I returned home from the conference energized by the time spent with my colleagues in international education and inspired to keep working on innovative ways to open study abroad to students from all backgrounds.

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