Every year NAFSA's conference planning team hears variations of the following from members of the international education community during the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo call for proposals:

"I'd submit a proposal, but...

  • I'm not a NAFSA member; or
  • I'm based outside the United States; or
  • I've only been working in the field 3 years."

There are some common misconceptions about who can present a session or workshop at the annual conference, but don't let these myths hold you back from submitting a proposal.

Myth #1: I have to be a NAFSA member.

False! Just like you don't have to be a NAFSA member to attend the annual conference, you don't have to be a member to present a session or workshop. (Of course, now is a good time to become a member. You'll receive the member discount on conference registration.)

Myth #2: I have to be an expert or have a long career in the field.

Not correct. NAFSA's Annual Conference Committee welcomes and values the perspectives and insights from international educators at different points in their career journeys. Whether you're a veteran in the field with decades of experience or a newcomer, your perspective contributes to an accurate representation of the field in session and workshop offerings. You have something to offer and teach your international education colleagues—whether this is your first NAFSA conference or your 20th.

Myth #3: I have to have a U.S. voice on my panel.

Untrue. Just like we value perspectives from those at different points in their career, we welcome—and need—voices from all regions and countries to be represented in the program lineup. NAFSA is an international association, and we encourage those from outside the United States and North America to contribute your knowledge and expertise at the annual conference (and all year round!). Panels that provide region-specific information or insights can be great, too. For example, past conferences have featured sessions that only talked about South America with each presenter representing a different country. (Interested in something like this but not sure who would be a good copresenter? Check out the Member Interest Groups!)

Myth #4: My proposal topic has to fit into one knowledge community (KC).

Nope! Don't hesitate to submit your proposal if your session or workshop idea spans two or more KCs. While some topics fit squarely into one area, many sessions are pan-NAFSA and have valuable application across several corners of the field. You won't be disqualified if your proposal checks more than one KC box. There's even a category of sessions called "Shared Interest"; we recommend you submit under that category!

Myth #5: I can't present my own resources or research.

Not at all. You're the one working in the field, and your research and resources are important contributions to the NAFSA community. As long as your session doesn't violate the noncommercial submission policies (e.g., is too "sales-y"), you're good to go! The trick to creating a successful session proposal based on your research is to frame your findings in a way that is broadly applicable to conference attendees who might not be as dialed into your area of expertise. A good approach can be to present your research or book as a model practice that others can use to enhance their own work. Another suggestion is to copresent with your research partners.

Still have questions about submitting a session or workshop proposal? Find answers here or watch a recording of a recent "Writing a Winning NAFSA Proposal" info session.

Ready to begin the submission process now that we've dispelled any misconceptions you may have had? Excellent! Start here, and good luck!