New in 2024, NAFSA is proud to introduce a new series of blog posts, written by NAFSA Global Partners. These institutions represent a broad range of perspectives, develop innovative approaches that enrich the field, and bring a wealth of expertise to the international education community.

“What if we started a podcast?”

More than one year ago, Jennifer Fisher, member of WorldStrides higher education leadership and a fellow podcaster, proposed a wonderful, yet daunting, idea for a new initiative. Considering how to make this idea a reality generated a lot of questions: Where would we find the time? How would we record guests? Would anyone even listen? These were all valid concerns, but they were overridden by the fact that a free resource like this didn’t exist in international education—yet.

One of the hallmarks of the field is its collegial spirit—international educators readily share best practices and learn from each other. This was reason enough to launch WorldStrides’ inaugural podcast, Changing Lives Through Education Abroad, hosted by Zac Macinnes, associate vice president of campus partnerships. In February 2023, as we made our first foray into earbuds and car stereos around the world, we hoped to create a space to uplift voices from across the field. While we didn’t expect the podcast to be a professional development resource for practitioners at all levels and have no entry barriers, we’re grateful and humbled that we have had the ability to contribute to international education’s collective knowledge base.

"The Changing Lives podcast has been a huge benefit to those of us in the field of education abroad,” says Abi Cavazos, associate director of study abroad at Siena College. “Through engaging guests and important, timely discussions, the podcast has become a way for professionals to engage with the field without the barriers of access that can exist with paid content and conferences. It's truly become an invaluable professional development resource that all of us now have in our back pocket to deploy at a moment's notice."

The podcast has proven especially valuable for the many recent newcomers to education abroad, who are looking for ways to build community and excel. From insights on creating a personal brand to fostering high-impact practices, guests on the podcast have shared their lessons learned, diverse perspectives, and innovative ideas for advancing their reach and the impact of education abroad.

“I wish this had existed when I was entering the field, “says Sara Dart, senior vice president of Education in Ireland. “It's basically a crash course in what really matters to international educators and an ever-evolving guide to the hot topics in education abroad.”

As we approach the one-year anniversary of launching Changing Lives, here are some common themes, lessons, and figures from the past year.

Facts and figures:

  • 45 episodes
  • 650+ cumulative years of guest experience

Key takeaways from one year of Changing Lives

  • International educators find a way to do the work. Despite a challenging diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) landscape, practitioners’ values remain unshaken. They persist in their goals to interrupt injustice and to advance equity.
  • Sustainability is front of mind. While there is room to grow, integrating care for the earth into study abroad is becoming more commonplace.
  • Access matters. Education abroad professionals continue to be more intentional about removing barriers for students, improving access, increasing diversity in staff makeup, and meeting the needs of today's students.
  • Practitioners are back—and they’re in it for the long haul. Education abroad professionals continuously level up, find their joy, and lead from every stage.
  • Speaking of leadership, international educators lead with care—in their meaningful work, at their organizations, with their students, and among each other.

International education is a remarkably resilient and uplifting field—one that makes the world a more compassionate place, one student at a time. Each episode of Changing Lives ends on a note of hope because what international educators do matters.

This podcast would not have been possible without the voices and experiences of everyone who collaborated with us to create such rich content. We cannot thank our colleagues enough for sharing their time, expertise, and passion with us. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Thank you, dear listeners and readers, for joining us on this journey and changing lives.

For more information, see NAFSA’s editorial guidelines for Global Partner content.