2018 is a special year for the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo. 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of this incredible event. For 70 years, international education professionals have been attending this essential gathering of like-minded friends and colleagues. And while today’s technological, political, and social issues are very different and more complex than 70 years ago, our shared commitment remains: to serve students and scholars and build global understanding through international education and exchange.
It is with a sense of celebration; reflection on the growth and accomplishments of our field; and a vision for the future that I am thrilled to formally invite you to attend the 2018 NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo in Philadelphia!
This year’s conference theme, Diverse Voices, Shared Commitment, emphasizes the value and power of all voices from within, across, and beyond the field of international education. We celebrate the occasion to hear distinct perspectives throughout the conference, and reaffirm our collaborative commitment to move our field forward through the next 70 years.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve had the pleasure to serve as chair of NAFSA’s 2018 Annual Conference Committee (ACC). I have had the privilege of working with an outstanding ACC team to develop a deep and diverse range of educational opportunities for this year’s conference in historic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only city in the United States to be designated a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage City.
The NAFSA Annual Conference is a unique forum of attendees from many professional and geographic perspectives and backgrounds. Despite differences, conference attendees share a very strong commitment to the core values of international education: providing a welcoming and supportive environment for the success of generations of globally mobile and globally minded students, scholars, faculty, and other stakeholders.
Our NAFSA Annual Conference provides a vigorous program of practical, solution-oriented, knowledge-building events for all levels of international education professionals and leaders. Preconference workshops provide cutting-edge training; session topics have been drawn from nearly 600 proposals to create venues for learning and discussion; and special programs on peace and global learning offer depth and dialogue. Poster fairs provide an opportunity for one-to-one conversations and idea sharing. And, the NAFSA 2018 International Education Expo provides an unparalleled forum for international education and exchange services, products, and partnerships.
New this year at the conference we will host a special Photovoice display in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This innovative research method will display approximately two dozen photos from two different photovoice projects: “What is Love? Perspectives from Cuba” and “Envisioning Home: The Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Photovoice Project as a Story of Effective Relationships.” I hope you’ll take some time during the week to view the displays from these two projects.
Finally, be sure to explore the opportunity to network with other experienced professionals in the field from around the world; learn techniques and skills employed by others; and grow as a professional. In the midst of the uncertain political climate, the NAFSA Annual Conference will prove to be a shining high point of the year, bringing together all of us who believe in the value of international education and the better good of our students and scholars.
I very much look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia!
Julie Sinclair is associate director of the Office of International Studies in Education in the College of Education at Michigan State University, and the chair of NAFSA’s 2018 Annual Conference Committee.