NAFSA 2020 Annual Conference & Expo

With concern for the health and safety of our attendees, the NAFSA board of directors decided to cancel the 2020 NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo scheduled to take place on May 24-29 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ready for NAFSA in St. Louis?

Here is how you can make the NAFSA 2020 Conference & Expo the professional highlight of your year.

At Registration and Check-In

NAFSA 2020 will convene at the America’s Center in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Once you arrive at the America’s Center, your first stop should be the NAFSA 2020 registration and check-in desk in Washington Lobby East. Refer to the registration information for conference check-in hours and additional registration information.

At the check-in desk, you will receive a tote bag, name badge, and maps of the Expo Hall and downtown St. Louis. This year, the conference printed program and notebook planner will be optional and available for pickup at registration.

You will also receive tickets for any preconference workshops, NAFSA signature programs, or special events requiring special registration that you signed up for at the time your conference registration.

It is important that you wear your name badge that you receive at check-in at all conference-related events. The name badge is your ticket to plenaries, sessions, networking events, and the Expo Hall.

Don’t forget to pick up your annual conference First-Timer ribbon near the registration desk!

Programming Designed Just For Annual Conference First-Timers

Even the most scrupulous planners may feel overwhelmed at their first NAFSA annual conference. We have designed a special schedule of programming to help first-timers orient themselves and make sure they stay on track to meet their annual conference goals. Attending these events is a great way to meet other first-timers from across the field who are as excited to be at NAFSA 2020 as you are!

Each of these offerings (except the First-Timers Breakfast) are included in your registration.

Tuesday, May 26
8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. First-Timers Breakfast fee
Sponsored by Maryville University
9:15 a.m.-10:00 a.m. First-Timers Orientation
Sponsored by Maryville University
10:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Education Abroad Newcomers Orientation
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. International Enrollment Management Newcomers Orientation
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. International Student and Scholar Services Newcomers Orientation
Thursday, May 28
5:45 p.m.-6:30 p.m. First-Timers Debrief

Ways to Network at the Conference

The professional growth at NAFSA 2020 doesn’t stop when you step out of a session. Here are some suggestions for easy networking during your conference experience:

  • Drop by the NAFSA Career Center: The Career Center will host several employer information sessions and roundtables throughout the week to facilitate networking between job seekers and employers.
  • Visit a Knowledge Community Networking Center: Relax in informal networking areas designated by each knowledge community. Arrange to meet with your colleagues here or drop in to meet new people. There are numerous open meetings scheduled in these centers throughout the week.
  • Explore the Expo Hall: Visit the more than 400 exhibitors in the Expo Hall to discover the latest innovations in international education programs, products, and services. The Expo Hall is also a great place to meet people for coffee breaks.
  • Talk with presenters one-on-one at the Poster Fairs to share best practices and new research.
  • Attend Special Events and NAFSA Signature Programs: These events offer a great way to network and learn with a smaller group of colleagues. All special events (and most signature programs) require a preregistration and some require additional fees.
  • Volunteer: Signing up to be a conference volunteer is a great way to meet new colleagues and to save yourself some money on conference registration at the same time.
  • Connect via the NAFSA 2020 app: You can search for and send messages to fellow attendees on the app before and during the conference.

Don’t forget about designated networking events as well!

NAFSA attendees exchanging business cards

Navigating the Convention Center and St. Louis

Managing your own conference agenda

Before you arrive in St. Louis, take time to create and review your personalized conference agenda in the online program and/or the NAFSA 2020 app.

  • Arrive early to your most important sessions. Conference planners cannot always predict interest levels in a topic and some sessions fill up. Arriving late may mean not getting into the session. If your session is full, leave your business card with a conference volunteer onsite so the presenters can send you their session materials.
  • If you find that a session does not meet your objectives, feel free to leave quietly and proceed to your second choice.
  • Allow time to move between events and meetings. The convention center is very large and walking between conference locations could take 5-10 minutes.
    • Please note that events will also take place at nearby hotels. Check the conference program or app if unsure of your next event’s location.
    • For large events (such as plenaries), it may take some time for everyone to exit the room.
  • Determine specific meeting locations if planning to meet a colleague.
    • Good places to meet include a particular exhibit booth number, at a specific Networking Center, or in front of the reception desk of a hotel.
    • If you are meeting someone at a particular session, reserve your seat first, then meet outside the room. This will ensure that you get into the session and get a seat.

Getting Around St. Louis

Centrally located in downtown St. Louis, the America’s Center Convention Complex is within walking distance of many of the city’s main attractions, including the Gateway Arch and Ballpark Village. View a compilation of online transportation resources. You may also visit the Conference Information Center (located in the conference registration area) for additional assistance.

The area around the America’s Center is generally safe for visitors but exercise the same caution you would in any city. Do not wear your name badge outside the convention complex and conference hotels and refrain from pulling out maps when out on the street to avoid marking yourself as a tourist.

Safety and Responsibility

NAFSA is committed to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all meeting participants and NAFSA staff. All participants, including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, NAFSA staff, service providers, and others are expected to abide by our Meeting Safety and Responsibility Policy. For more information or to report incidents of unacceptable behavior, please see the NAFSA Meeting Safety and Responsibility Policy.