Hola de Puerto Rico! Today was our service learning day where we had the opportunity to go and visit Sister Isolina’s Center. Arriving at the Center, we were introduced to the new director, Sister Mildred who to our surprise and hers can speak English very well.  She kept apologizing to us, but we reassured her that she was doing great. Before we were given the tour we where able to meet the historian of the Center who has also been around since the founder, Sister Isolina started the program. She spoke highly of all the programs and work that Isolina put into the Center and while taking the tour, you can really see how much they care about this place.  The people in Ponce really use and rely on the center for help and learning. During the tour, they showed us the high school which was for kids up to that age of 21 that had dropped out of school to come and finish their schooling and get a degree. While in the school they showed different class rooms such as the English room.  I was amazed at what their work load is!  I don’t even think I could do some of the things that these kids had to do.  Sister Mildred then showed us some of the art that they work on and it’s amazing.                  For lunch we went to Cesar’s BBQ chicken thanks to one of the sister recommending it to Joyce. The food in Puerto Rico is heaven. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to go back to eating American food. At the end of lunch we even got a group picture with the chef and his son. After getting back to the hotel, we went to a couple shops that were in la plaza. In every town they have there own plaza which has a church and fire station in the middle of the town. La plaza is different in each town some are very small and you almost can’t recognize it and others are huge and beautiful.  Estar en Puerto Rico ha abierto verdaderamente mis ojos a las diferentes culturas y estoy agradecido por el ágape para estar en este viaje. Ponce es ponce y el resto es parqueo.

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Today we woke up at 6 a.m.  to leave the condo by 7:30 a.m. Let me tell you, it’s difficult waking up so early since I haven’t had an 8 a.m. since first semester, freshmen year. But it’s exciting because it makes our days here feel longer and obviously we don’t want to leave this beautiful island. We’re on our way to the court. All the criminal justice majors including myself were excited about seeing how  different the court system deals with things compared to the States. We were able to visit the marshals office, criminal court, domestic violence court, the jury room and the investigation area, which is cases that are an emergency and need to be dealt with right then and there. We got the chance to sit in on three different cases. It was honestly the highlight of our day! I cannot explain to you how interesting these different cases were. They were all in Spanish and it got a little difficult trying to translate it to the group, but they were still able to understand what was going on. We then had lunch in the cafeteria at the court, which was delicious! After the court, we went to the Zar Zar prison. We were a little scared and intimidated because we didn’t know what to expect. We had to take off all our jewelry before we went in. It got more scarier when the guys had to get patted down and the girls got searched by a female guard. At the prison we were able to see where they make wood sculptures, paintings, candles, etc. to sell. Actually some of the group bought a lot of their knick-naks. It was surprising to see how free these prisoners were. The warden told us that they need about 60 more guards to work there. They then showed us the cafeteria, where the food is prepared and kept. The hospital area, where they get medication, root canals, and glasses if they need it. They have a beautiful green house and sell the crops growing such as lettuce and cilantro that is used in almost all Hispanic dishes. They also had beautiful orange trees growing. It’s been a great day, a lot of interesting facts that I would’ve never thought of. We’ve all been having a wonderful time on this beautiful island. Saludos de Puerto Rico.

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This morning we went to the mayors office and although he could not be there, his secretary answered all of our questions. She told us about one of his projects to rehabilitate the plaza by planting trees to make shade and his other project is to expand on the medical center in Luquillo and make it open 24/7. She also explained how the taxes work and about the tax rate bill in Congress that will increase the tax rate to 11.5%. We visited a Catholic Church and it was beautiful inside. We then went to the medical center and took a short tour and saw what kind of equipment uses there. Later tonight we are going salsa dancing to experience that part of Puerto Rican tradition.

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Hola de Puerto Rico !   This morning everyone was up at 6:30 am and getting ready for the day! We ate scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, thanks to our great Puerto Rico familia! At 8 am, we had traveled to Luquillo town hall (alcaldia). Unfortunately, the mayor couldn’t make it today but we got to speak to Wilris, Jerry (The mayor of Luquillo’s executive assistant. We all had great questions and she had explained a lot about the   taxes, the hospitals, all the stray animals and what they are doing about the situation. The mayor was generous enough to give us all a tote to take home with us! After we left the town hall we traveled to the medical center. Here at the hospital we were given a tour by Miss Cruz. We saw where they treat the patients, also the x-ray room and the laboratory where they take the blood. Tonight we are going to dinner in San Juan , and we are going to be taking salsa dancing lessons as well! Tenga in buen dia !

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It’s here! 4 a.m. came quick this morning. I was staying in Jersey for the weekend with my friend, another student on the trip so we traveled together to the airport picking up another student along the way. I’ve never flown out of Newark, but I thought it was quite small. After checking in through security we proceeded to our gate and began boarding. Many of the passengers were of Spanish decent and spoke Spanish. Thankfully, we have a few translators with us. I began a conversation with the woman sitting behind me on the plane who happened to be from my town on the South Shore of Boston. When we landed it looked like Orlando. Everyone was hungry after we got the bus and we were treated to an authentic Puerto Rican barbecue at Bebbos BBQ in San Juan. After lunch it was time to travel to the other side of the island to the town of Ponce. We made a stop for class and a history lesson at the “Monumento Al Jibaro Puertorriqueño” which translates to Hillbilly in English. It is not in any way derogatory just simply pure bred Puerto Rican.  From the monument it was another hour long drive to Ponce through the mountains. We experienced their drought and everything that was suppose to be green and in bloom was all dead plants. Then there was a torrential downpour for 5 minutes, I mean hard rain. We checked into Hotel Melia right in the center of Ponce and took time to cool off from the 90 degree heat at the pool. Then it was time to do a little exploring, we walked the town and experienced their fire station, “Parque de Bombas”, and different people walking throughout the streets. About 100 years ago there were around 20 fire fighters killed in a  deadly blaze that deserted the city. The town payed for homes for each of their families to live in, but they are never allowed to leave the family. Currently the deceased great grandchildren and so on occupy the homes. There were a lot of stray animals, cats and dogs everywhere. It’s a huge issue, we learned that dogs are not common indoor pets rather they live outside of the home. The homes are mostly recently new construction being cement instead of wood to help protect from hurricanes and earthquakes. It was so nice to hit a bed after being awake for 20 hours at that point. And then their was the second day…

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On day one of my Puerto Rico trip I learned many things. A couple of them stood out in my mind, despite the endless traveling. I learned that rich people usually have bars all over their house. we visited a “hillbilly statue” representing living off the land. I also thought it was extremely interesting that all the houses were made of cement. They’re built like that so the Hurricanes don’t ruin them. A couple words I learned were: audious, buenez diaz, domas, and fumar. I had a great day in Puerto Rico! 

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The second group of students going to Puerto Rico have been posting blogs and pictures!   This group is studying political science with professor Jeff Brauer and sociology of diversity with adjunct faculty, Joyce Avila. Enjoy!!!

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By Nicolle Merrill We all know that networking is key to getting the things that we want—new jobs, new ideas, new partnerships. Yet when I ask students or colleagues about their networking efforts their answers fall somewhere between “networking is so awkward” and “OMG I hate it.” Networking, at its simplest, is about conversations. Talking to strangers can feel awkward, no doubt, but your willingness to push through and engage strangers and actively listen can open the door to potential. And with a bit of preparation—a few opening lines and a dash of bravery—anyone can be a conversationalist. You never know where a conversation might lead. It may be a hint about an unadvertised job opening, or an invite to a coffee chat about your new idea. Conversations can lead to insightful career advice, or maybe even a fantastic travel tip. So here are six ways to network at the NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference & Expo. Use the opening lines below to get those conversations started. 1. Find Your People The key to good conversations is finding commonality with other people. The NAFSA conference is huge but it is extremely easy to find people with shared interests through the Knowledge Communities and Member Interest Groups. Look through the list before you get on-site. Find a meeting with your peers, show up, locate the host, and introduce yourself. Opening line: “I didn’t know this group existed. How long have you been part of it?” 2. Ask All the Questions Fun fact: Plenty of people love to talk about themselves. The trick is to get them started. This is the best tip for introverts and non-native English speakers: approach a group of people like you are a cultural anthropologist and try to learn about them. When they’ve answered your questions ask follow up questions. Let them do the talking until they ask about you. Opening line: “All this talk of study abroad reminds me I need to take a vacation. Where are you thinking about going on vacation this year?” Or try any of these awesome conversation-starting questions . 3. Chat Up the Presenters Post-presentation chats are the perfect opportunity to connect on a topic of interest. I love the questions and ideas that audience members offer after a presentation. As a presenter, I’m always willing to share more because I can’t fit everything I want to say into a presentation. So say hello to the presenters and ask them a question about their work. Opening line: “I really enjoyed your talk and learning about (summarize what you learned). I was curious about how you (what do you want to know?)” 4. Treat the Expo Hall as a Career Center The Expo Hall is where you can find out what’s hot in international education. Go beyond the free stuff and engage the representatives. Ask them what attracted them to their company and what skills they look for in potential hires. Ask them about the most innovative new program or idea they’ve seen in international education. Use the Expo Hall as a place to get up to speed on what’s new in the industry and to find out where you might fit in, now or in the future. Opening lines: “How did you get your job at this company?” “What do you like most about working for this company?” 5. Go to the Parties, Seriously The NAFSA conference is full of learning opportunities and professional development but don’t forget the fun. You’ll be mingling with a fabulously interesting group of globally curious people who love language and travel. Pick an after-party and join in the revelry. You’ll probably make a friend or maybe even a future work colleague. Opening line: “Have you ever been to (country sponsoring the party)? I want to go so badly.” 6. Jump on the #NAFSA15 Hashtag It’s no secret that the #NAFSA15 hashtag is the online party happening all throughout the conference. Share photos of speakers or exhibitors that you’re excited about. Tweet or retweet the people you’re interested in. Job seekers: Use Twitter to tell people you are job searching and show what you’re learning at NAFSA. Put your LinkedIn profile in your Twitter bio so people can learn more about you. Opening tweet: @(person of interest) I’m very interested in the work you are doing. Are you free to meet up today? I’d like to learn more about your work. #NAFSA15. Need more tips? I’ll show you how to make networking less awkward so you can mingle throughout the NAFSA conference. Join me on Tuesday, May 26 from 9:00 a.m.–9:45 a.m. for my presentation “ Creating Clever Conversations Online and Off. ” Nicolle Merrill is a Global MBA Career Coach at the Yale School of Management. She’s always on Twitter @pdxnicolle and writes about international education at www.internationalmingler.com

[via NAFSA: Association of International Educators Blog]

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By Clare O’Brien If you have the opportunity to arrive in Boston before the NAFSA conference starts, there will be plenty of things for you to see and do over the Memorial Day weekend. Here are a few suggestions: Visit the Massachusetts Military Heroes Garden of Flags . Come see an amazing display of 37,000 American flags on the Boston Common. Each flag represents one of the Massachusetts service members who have given their lives for their country, dating back to the Revolutionary War. Attend the Memorial Day Parade in Cambridge. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Harvard Square as you line up to see the parade go by. The parade will start with a cannon salute at 9:30 a.m. on the Cambridge Common. Remember our heroes as you listen to a free concert. Honor & Tribute , Boston’s second annual Memorial Day concert, will take place at Christopher Columbus Park from 7:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m., with performances by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Get lost in the arts. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is offering free admission on Memorial Day between 10:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. View treasures from Ancient Nubia, master drawings from Leonardo da Vinci, and a beautiful display of contemporary Latin American works. Join the crowd at the City Hall Plaza for the Boston Calling Music Festival . This three-day, two-stage festival features over 20 artists including Krill, Beck, and the Pixies. Affordable tickets are still available. Take me out to the ballgame. The Red Sox are in town! With many Bostonians heading out of town for the weekend, tickets are still available for games on May 21 through May 24 against the Texas Rangers and then against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Shop the sales. This is the time of year that many of the boutiques on Newbury Street and in the Prudential Mall are offering big sales. Great discounts can also be found outside of the city at the outlets. Two major outlet malls, Wrentham Village in Wrentham, MA, and the Premium Outlets in Merrimack , NH, are both about a 90-minute drive from Boston. Clare O’Brien is the Local Arrangements Team (LAT) communications chair for the NAFSA 2015 Annual Conference & Expo. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Clare has lived in the Boston area for more than 20 years. She spent close to 10 years overseeing international student advising and study abroad at Fitchburg State University in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and worked as an international educator in Wisconsin, New York, and Massachusetts while she earned both her master’s and doctorate degrees. Clare currently works part-time as an international education consultant where she has assisted several local universities and third-party providers. She is also coediting an anthology of short stories titled From Bangkok to Boston: Inspiring Stories of Travel and Adventure from International Educators .

[via NAFSA: Association of International Educators Blog]

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By Tiffany Harrison & Kayla Patterson With over 200 million monthly Instagram users , 288 million Twitter users, and 347 million active LinkedIn accounts, it’s safe to say that social networking is here to stay. As international educators, most of us are now aware (or we hope you are aware!) of how important tapping into these social media numbers is when it comes to marketing programs to students around the world. All you have to do is look at recent data to see that these numbers continue to grow. According to Expedia’s Future of Travel Study , 49 percent of millennials plan and book trips using their smartphones, while 40 percent are likely to share a travel experience on social media during a trip. What about using social media to market yourself as a professional within international education? How do you create an online name for yourself, or enhance the digital footprint you’ve already established? What kind of skills should you be highlighting? What platforms are the most relevant? And, the biggest question of all: why does any of this even matter? Your students are the ones who are going abroad, and it’s them we should be focusing on, right? Not quite. In this day and age, it’s just as important to be thinking about your own social presence, for more reasons than one. Intrigued to learn more? Join us on Thursday, May 28 from 10:00 a.m.–10:45 a.m. for our presentation, “Using Social Media to Enhance Career Development,” in the Career Center located in the Expo Hall. This session will act as a follow-up and refresher to the social media advice that was presented last year at the annual conference in San Diego. This session will explore the connection between social media and career development and is applicable whether you’re new to the field, still trying to get your foot in the door, or you’re an experienced veteran. Key takeaways that can easily be implemented, whether you have a firm grasp on technology or are still learning, will also be offered. Given the time limits, Twitter and LinkedIn will be the primary focus in this discussion, although some easy tips and tricks associated with Instagram will also be covered. We hope you can join us! Kayla Patterson is the GoMedia Director and Social Media Strategist at GoAbroad.com . She oversees the structure and sales of GoMedia services, including social media management, website design, GoAbroad.NET, and search engine optimization. Patterson specializes specifically in social media management and is involved with the management of several channels for various international education organizations. She holds an undergraduate degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Colorado State University, was the Chair of the NAFSA Technology MIG from 2013-2015, and has presented several sessions and career center series at annual NAFSA conferences.. Hailing from Northern California, Tiffany Harrison is the Communications Manager for STA Travel, and is responsible for all internal and external communications for STA Travel US. Key responsibilities also include expanding the STA Travel audience, researching and developing new partnership opportunities relevant to the STA Travel brand, as well as managing existing partner relationships. Previous to this role, Tiffany was the Outreach Manager at GoAbroad.com for nearly four years, where she managed the organization’s extensive social media communities, implemented a variety of successful online campaigns, handled press inquiries, and coordinated content for the GoAbroad Blog. Tiffany is a graduate of California State University Chico with a BA in Journalism Public Relations. She is involved with the NAFSA Rainbow SIG as the 2013-2015 Newsletter Co-Chair, and speaks often on topics that focus on the intersection of brand management and online marketing as it relates to social media and technology, as well as methods for translating the student experience.

[via NAFSA: Association of International Educators Blog]

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