It is a pleasure for NAFSA to introduce Carol Zachs, LAT communications chair for the 2011 Annual Conference & Expo. Carol's expertise about Vancouver will provide you with an insider's look into what the city has to offer. Over the next few months, Carol will be sharing some of Vancouver's highlights to help you plan your visit. Enjoy her stories, listen to her advice, and post questions to the blog as you prepare for NAFSA's annual conference.

Canadian mittens A couple of weeks ago, Vancouver celebrated the one-year anniversary of the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The games were marked by an uncharacteristic demonstration of national pride. Red-gloved Canadians flooded the streets, belting out the national anthem at every opportunity. In just three short months, the city will be playing host to nearly 8,000 NAFSA delegates. While unabashed patriotism will not be on display this time (well, perhaps a little bit!), those of us who are local delegates hope that you enjoy the city as much as we did in 2010.

The city sits on the traditional territories of the Burrard, Musqueam, and Squamish peoples of the Coast Salish group, whose presence can be traced back more than 8,000 years. Today, Vancouver is home to more than 2 million people many of whom, like me, are immigrants from every corner of the world.

Just recently, and for the fifth year in a row, Vancouver garnered a top spot as the “most livable city' in the world. Framed by the spectacular Rocky Mountains on one side and the sparkling Pacific Ocean on the other, Vancouver boasts some of the most impressive natural beauty around. Not to mention the city's incredibly diverse population, strong commitment to sustainability, and high quality of life - you can see why many of us have chosen to make Vancouver home.

Need refuge from Vancouver's rainy weather? You will be hard-pressed not to find a handful of great restaurants nearby. Love the outdoors? Vancouverites like to brag that you can ski down Cypress and water ski on the Pacific all on the same day. Throw in some great museums, an active art scene, and world-class shopping and you've got yourself a jam-packed preconference schedule!

Don't forget to subscribe to NAFSA's blog so you can follow my posts and stay up-to-date with the latest news about Vancouver and the conference.

Carol ZachsCarol Zachs is the Local Arrangements Committee (LAT) communications chair for NAFSA’s 2011 Annual Conference & Expo. After completing an internship in 2000-01 at the University of Aarhus’ International Secretariat in Denmark, Carol has worked in the field of international education ever since. Currently, she serves as the manager of study and research abroad at the University of British Columbia, where she is also completing graduate work in education. Originally from Mexico City, Carol has been a Vancouver resident for the past 24 years. Carol looks forward to showcasing what Vancouver has to offer to all of the conference attendees.