This week, President Obama met with Young African Leaders in Washington to discuss the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The President alongside his administration hope to double the number of participants in the program in the next two years. He also hopes to create regional leadership centers across Africa and launch a new set of educational and professional development tools. President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry all delivered remarks at the event.

[via EducationUSA News Feed]

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My CEA journey started in the winter of 2013 and has grown to include being a CEA study abroad student, MOJO (Mobile Journalist), Alumni Ambassador, and now a CEA Alumni Ambassador intern. Why did I choose to stay part of the CEA family in so many roles? More than any other institution I have ever encountered, CEA cares about its students. It is such a simple concept, but much easier said than done. In all the various endeavors throughout my entire life, I have never had the pleasure of interacting with such a cohesive team devoted to giving each and every student the opportunities to have an eye-opening experience. I feel confident making such a bold statement because I have lived it. CEA and I have a long history; one that I feel has helped us both a lot. Macey Hallstedt during her winter 2013 San Jose study abroad program. It all began in San Jose, Costa Rica. After many months of research, preparation, and tough decision-making, I had settled on a program and could not have been more excited. Upon arrival, I was blown away by how intentional CEA had been on its preparation to make sure the students had all the necessary information in order to feel comfortable venturing out on their own. They were always available and helpful, but still allowed students to be very independent. After my first few weeks in San Jose, my program directors, Maggie and Leo, made us aware of an available paid position on the CEA team as a MOJO. Given my concentration in communications and predisposition toward writing, I jumped at the opportunity. Not often does an amateur undergrad stumble across a chance to get paid to write. So I wrote. And I photographed. And I recorded. And from all this, came a few tour videos, several photo essays, and even more blog entries encompassing all topics from how study abroad helps students even after graduation to what ‘pura vida’ means to me. All of them were published. In on fell swoop I had gotten some of my own writing posted on a platform other than my own personal blog and CEA had received blog content to help future students considering study abroad. Fast forward five months to September 2013, as I was entering my junior year at the University of Michigan. I had accepted a position as a CEA Alumni Ambassador intern. Such a position includes things like giving presentations encouraging students to study abroad, creating and distributing flyers, working the CEA table at study abroad fairs, making contacts within relevant offices like International and Advising centers, and the like. The experience fit in so well with my communications concentration. Plus, I am so passionate about study abroad that I wanted to share it with everyone I met. A year and a half later, my experience with CEA has come full circle. Due to my hard work as an Alumni Ambassador and an intense craving to go abroad again, CEA invited me back to San Jose, Costa Rica as one of the first to participate in the Alumni Ambassador Internship program. So here I am, starting my CEA San Jose internship and seeing study abroad from a new angle. Macey Hallstedt (center) with CEA San Jose Academic Director, Leo Duran (left), and Program Director, Maggie Banchs (right). My job is to plan cultural activities and meaningful excursions, and do pretty much anything else necessary for the international students to feel safe and comfortable here. That can include anything from showing them how to plan a great vacation, to where to buy the delicious Costa Rican fruits for cheap and how to avoid tourist traps to helping them with Spanish homework. The best part? I enjoy all of it. I am not only here to serve CEA and its students, but I am also selfishly gaining invaluable experience in how to navigate international workplaces, how to help others feel welcome when all they feel is different, and improving my Spanish the entire time. I am having fun learning by doing and simultaneously providing a very important service to the international students; I am a student who has lived it, worked hard, succeeded, and returned to put my new skills to use. I am a living testimonial about how hard CEA works in order to ensure the best experiences for the students – both present and  past. Macey Hallstedt is a Winter 2013 CEA San Jose alumna, current CEA Senior Alumni Ambassador at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, former CEA MOJO, and currently a Summer 2014 CEA Alumni Ambassador intern in San Jose. Don’t miss her next post about what goes on behind the scenes at CEA San Jose!

[via CEA Study Abroad Programs]

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It’s been a great summer on the blog keeping up with our CEA Alumni Ambassador team. Since they’ve “been there, done that” when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of study abroad, it’s been fun hearing about their experiences in Barcelona, Prague, Aix-en-Provence, Alicante, Paris, Port Elizabeth, Seville, and San Jose. We love hearing their feedback and want to thank them for their help on the blog covering topics such as   debunking study abroad myths and sharing their insights about the CEA Alumni Ambassador program. Patrick Gradus (top left), Josh Lagunez (top right), & Taylor Stoeckler (bottom, far left) If you’ve been busy working or hanging out with friends this summer, here’s a quick recap of what you missed: Intern Abroad in Alicante: Did you hear about Taylor’s summer interning with the CEA Alicante team? As one of the first CEA Alumni Ambassador Interns abroad, Taylor got to experience study abroad from the other side. (Plus, she was already an expert at study abroad with four programs behind her.) That’s a Wrap! We thought the CEA blog would be a little quiet without our MOJOs over the summer, but our “Males in Study Abroad” series kept us checking back for more. We went back in time with Tanner, Shane, Josh, Patrick, Tarek, and David as they shared why they studied abroad, what they learned from their time abroad and why they encourage you to study abroad. The end of this series also means we’re saying “adios” to Patrick, a Prague alum and Associate Alumni Ambassador, who contributed several blog posts recapping his time in Prague. We’re excited for where the next step in your post-study abroad journey takes you, Patrick! Monique Martinez (top left), Tarek Dahdul (bottom left), David Sperling (top right), & Shane Heckman (bottom right) But wait, there’s more! Before we start crying in our melted gelato that the summer is over, we’re excited for one more summer treat: Our second Alumni Ambassador intern, Macey Hallstedt, a San Jose Winter ‘13 alumna and student at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, is about to share her summer CEA San Jose internship recap. Get ready for updates about living life “pura vida” style. Psst: Even though we love summer, we’re psyched for the Fall semester to roll around so we can meet our new Alumni Ambassador team members and catch up with returning Ambassadors! Psst (again!): How can you join the CEA Alumni Ambassador team? Study abroad with CEA ! 

[via CEA Study Abroad Programs]

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Bradley University is experiencing a major increase in international students interested in attending Graduate School on the Hilltop. To date, Bradley has seen a 95% increase in international graduate school applications over last year. This is a growing trend for Bradley. In Fall ’12, Bradley received 303 international applications, in Fall ’13, 408 were received and, so far, 794 international applications have been received for Fall ’14. Graduate school admits for international students also is up 85% thus far over last fall.

[via EducationUSA News Feed]

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A team of Chinese graduate students studying in the United States will bike across the country for a charity campaign known as DanXingDao, or One Way, to raise funds to provide lunches for hungry children living in under-developed areas of China. The seven students will start their ride Saturday on a trip that will span two months, cover 3,800 miles, and cross 11 states from San Francisco to Washington. The students will travel an average of 60-70 miles per day; they will have a support vehicle following them.

[via EducationUSA News Feed]

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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is awarding nearly $5 million in research fellowships to 46 predoctoral students from 24 countries. The awards will allow the students, who have demonstrated exceptional talent and innovation in research, to complete their graduate studies.

[via EducationUSA News Feed]

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Danhao Ma or Spark is a student from Shanghai, China. From a young age he has always wanted to explore and experience more academically than he believed China could offer. When his parents offered to allow him to attend high school in the U.S., he jumped at the chance, landing in Atchison, Kansas. In search of a good engineering school to continue his studies, he chose Penn State, where as an undergraduate researcher, he is working on the next generation of power cells–flexible batteries. These batteries are bendable with a fraction of the volume and weight of the ones we use today. Watch the video to find out more!

[via EducationUSA News Feed]

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CollegeWeekLive is hosting a free online college fair for international students. Register to ask any questions you may have for more than 80 top U.S. universities, get personal advice from EducationUSA advisors and more!

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The second session of the Applying to U.S. Universities MOOC, which features EducationUSA, will start on August 3, 2014! Please use this social media toolkit to spread the word about this free, informative course. The toolkit includes post-ready tweets and Facebook statuses, so you can easily post about the course on Facebook and Twitter!

[via EducationUSA News Feed]

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By Chad Goeden Leading international education researcher and author Rajika Bhandari helped open NAFSA’s 2014 Online Conference by challenging participants to think critically about how “big data” can positively impact their work as international educators. In her plenary address, “’Big Data’: The 21st Century Game-Changer in Global International Student Recruitment,” Bhandari illustrated the wealth of information that “big data” can provide by asking participants, “Did you know that [international] students from Kuwait, Bangladesh, and Venezuela have been increasing rapidly? Did you know that South Korean students are very interested in the fine and applied arts? And that Nigerian students favor the health sciences?” Bhandari, who is deputy vice president of research and evaluation at the Institute of International Education (IIE), and director of IIE’s Center for Academic Mobility Research, brought to life the ways that institutions and campuses can successfully strategize about their decisionmaking processes by understanding and incorporating “big data” into conversations about context, benchmarking, and campus advocacy. Bhandari explained that one of the most important reasons why international educators need to pay attention to data is that “big data” has the potential to provide resources for maximizing student success. This can range from institutions using “big data” to improve their recruitment efforts to demonstrating the value of investing in international higher education to external stakeholders. Despite questions regarding reliability, validity, and quality assurance when using “big data” to inform institutional strategy, international enrollment management strategy has become increasingly data driven since the 1970s, according to Bhandari. This has allowed for more individualized analysis of student behavior for their college selection process, providing greater opportunities for universities to build stronger connections to potential students. “Knowing this kind of information can help you reach international students that are interested in the types of programs your institution offers,” Bhandari stated. Bhandari also emphasized that it is essential for senior international officers, provosts, and international student services staff to interact with enrollment management administrators in building and supporting a “big data”-driven international enrollment management plan. Bhandari offered that the first step in using “big data” is for key stakeholders to define a very clear set of questions that you need answers to before jumping in. She also suggested that key stakeholders examine their existing data architecture before going forward with something new, and continually reflect on external data sources. Bhandari concluded her address with a quote from Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard: “ The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” The field of international education is increasingly becoming data-driven, and it is our professional responsibility to stay on top of these data to continue making the most informed decisions that benefit our institutions and our students. The NAFSA 2014 Online Conference, International Student Recruitment: Data-Driven Strategies for Success , is currently underway, but you can still register and join the conversation. In addition, conference participants will continue to have access to materials, resources, and recordings for 3 months after the conference.

[via NAFSA: Association of International Educators Blog]

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