#YouAreWelcomeHere has ignited a spirit of professional collaboration and comradery more powerful than I’ve ever seen before in my career. Professionals in international education are sharing ideas, supporting each other’s initiatives and coming together in a unified voice to affirm their commitment and caring for international students.
The campaign offers an emphatic response to emotional questions. International students want to know…
Is it still safe in the United States for international students?
Will I be comfortable and welcome?
Will I still be able to find opportunities to pursue an internship? Will I have difficulty getting a visa or entering the country?
I’m proud to say that our effort to grow the campaign has paid off; #YouAreWelcomeHere has been incredibly successful. More than 200 colleges, universities, and intensive English programs are using the hashtag across social media in messages, videos, and events. Several media outlets have covered the story, including a mention in The Chronicle of Higher Education. By now, thousands of international students have received the message that they are welcome here in the United States. Indeed, the results have exceeded my expectations.
How It All Began
In November 2016, I set out on a feverish journey to persuade colleagues to join me in offering one simple message, “You are welcome here,” to international students worldwide. This effort put my networking skills to the test. With the support of Temple University’s International Affairs marketing team, I knocked on countless doors and called in many favors. If you belong to an international enrollment management Facebook group, follow a Twitter account, have attended International Recruitment Council events, visited Network.NAFSA, read higher education news, or have joined a webinar in the past few months, you have hopefully encountered multiple plugs for the campaign.
A Pleasant Surprise
The campaign yielded another outcome that I didn’t foresee.
Early on, I received a private message from someone at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. It turned out that their marketing team noticed our budding campaign because it so closely resembled their own efforts with a UK campaign, #WeAreInternational. In our initial correspondence, I learned that theirs was a national campaign and was much older and more developed than our little endeavor. I was amazed when my British colleagues explained that they had contacted me for one simple reason. They wanted to help.
They generously answered our questions, shared their ideas, made suggestions, and offered some lessons learned. Most importantly, they pushed us to give the campaign a concrete presence. This cooperation particularly inspired me because it illustrates exactly what #YouAreWelcomeHere is designed to promote - the value of working, studying, and collaborating across borders. That’s a vision that I know NAFSA and its membership also embrace.
Learn More and Join the Campaign
Being involved in this campaign continues to inspire my career and my passion for international education, something that I know most of you also embrace. So, if you haven’t already, I’m inviting you to join the campaign. Visit www.youarewelcomehereusa.org for more information and learn more about it at the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference & Expo. NAFSA supports the campaign and will be providing special recognition at the annual conference. I will also be sharing insights about the campaign at NAFSA 2017 at the NAFSA Pavilion at 2:00 p.m. on May 31, 2017.
For a complete NAFSA 2017 event schedule, visit www.nafsa.org/losangeles.
Jessica Sandberg is director of international admissions at Temple University; editor of NAFSA’s Guide to International Student Recruitment, and former managing editor of NAFSA’s online international enrollment management newsletter IEM Spotlight.