The Region V team made a number of changes to the conference program that proved to be quite popular with conference attendees this year. By extending the day slightly and shortening breaks, they were able to add two additional timeslots to the program resulting in 16 additional sessions. They also offered three special events which allowed attendees to bond outside of sessions and added a nice cross cultural tie-in for those that participated. Attendees were able to select from a Vietnamese cooking class, dinner and discussion with a local Amish family, and a wine tasting. One attendee who participated in the Amish dinner described the food as “beyond good” and reported that the conversation was so insightful that the event ran over by 45 minutes.
Conference attendance surpassed last year’s numbers with approximately 12% of the attendees attending for the first-time. When regional chair, Jim Crawley asked how many of the first-timers had entered the field within the past year, the vast majority of first-timers raised their hands. The exciting news is that many of those that raised their hands touched base with members of the regional team and other NAFSA leaders asking how they could get further involved in NAFSA. At the conference luncheon, Jim Hammerschmidt from the University of Illinois at Chicago received this year’s Patti Jones Award.