If you are like me, you have spent your professional life discovering how truly broad the field of international education is. You have developed a fount of knowledge and impressive skills, and likely you do not want to retreat into a shell. (Maybe you want to disengage for a short period of time.)
As you consider your next move, you may find yourself attracted to adventure, or perhaps you will be a searcher for new options, or someone who just lets the day unfold. For myself, I am someone who wanted to continue using my knowledge, skills, and interests in international education. There are many avenues of approach to staying involved: I have three categories.
I. Things You Thought About Doing, But Never Had the Time
- Reading, researching, reflecting, writing, and publishing (personally, I can't say enough about these activities). I'm a people person on one side, but I found out that I had an unrequited desire to conduct research, write, and publish. Not everything I research has been published. For example, the family history. Oh yeah, I did that—in between consulting opportunities.
- Consulting with institutions, offices, and organizations on issues involving my expertise, both educational and in international education.
- Mentoring younger colleagues or serving as a sounding board for those continuing or seeking entry in the field.
- Providing advice, independent perspective, service, or collaborating with those (1) individuals, former colleagues, or students who are in a doctoral or master's thesis stage [ and often writing on some aspect of international education], or (2) organizations you were or continue to be a member of, such as NAFSA and Phi Beta Delta, international honor society, your local international visitor's center, AIEA, or your state international educator association (many have blogs, Facebook pages, etc.).
II. Staying involved in NAFSA by maintaining your professional stance
- Continuing to attend the NAFSA annual conference (less expensive registration, a nice vacation, a chance to engage with your retired and active colleagues). Membership for retired NAFSAns is less expensive as well. At the conference and via e-mail and social networks, you can:
- Engaging with friends in the New Century Circle
- Joining committees (writers and reviewers are always needed)
- Continuing membership or joining new Member Interest Groups
- Using your accumulated knowledge in serving NAFSA's Career Center through mentoring, reviewing résumés, presenting, and so on.
III. Creating a new adventure in something international, such as engaging in other activities not directly associated with your previous professional position.
- Transitioning to a different area of international education: teacher corps, Peace Corps
- Developing new or expanding current skills and knowledge
- Retiring to another country, sending postcards to friends (a lost art), starting a blog, or writing really loooong holiday letters, with photos. For more info, visit http://internationalliving.com/.
All in all you have much to offer, with less stress, and with a smile. Admit it, international education is in your blood.
Join Michael May 29, 2014 from 3:00 p.m.-03:45 p.m. PDT in the Career Center at the 2014 Annual Conference & Expo in San Deigo.
Michael Smithee is retired from the Slutzker Center for International Services at Syracuse University. He is currently president of SmitheeAssociates, an international education consulting firm. He has been a member of NAFSA for nearly 40 years.