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Real-World viewpoints from leaders in our field

Interviews of Women Professionals

Sharing Real-world viewpoints

We are excited to bring you an amazing section dedicated solely to the pursuit of sharing real-world viewpoints from women in our field. Our goal is to interview women who have had either unique experiences or just plain more experience than you so that you can learn from their wisdom and apply it in your own daily work challenges.

Limelight Interviews

Our interview style will change with every chat so that we can keep it fresh.  We hope you will read our spotlight interviews and get inspired to submit suggestions of other women who we should interview.  Every one of you has something special to share so please let us know who you would like to hear from!

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  • 02 Jun 2022 3:30 PM | Anonymous


    One Woman, Countless Hats

    Jenny Wilkinson sits down with us to discuss her professional experience as the Director of Student Recruitment and Business Development at London Metropolitan University. She explains the steps she has taken to accomplish her achievements and her perspectives on music, upcoming projects, and being a woman in business.

    As Jenny Wilkinson reminisces about her time interviewing women Vice Chancellors for her MBA dissertation, she mentions how grateful she was “just being able to sit with these amazing women… I was a bit starstruck just listening to their stories”. She does not realize that being given the opportunity to sit down with her can render anyone else just as starstruck.

    Wilkinson, who has been working at London Metropolitan University for three years -- and assumed three separate positions in that time -- has been a voice for international education and climate change activism since her time in college.

    Hat 1: Music as a Driver for Social Change

    She completed her undergraduate degree in music with a specialism in voice and this continues to play a large role in her life. As a first-generation university student, Wilkinson’s driver was using music as a tool for social justice, which she now does at London Metropolitan Brass (no connection to the university).

    “I want a community music organization that’s free for anyone,” she says, “[where] we teach for free, we give free instruments, we play together for the joy of it, and nobody ever gets kicked out because they’re not good enough.”

    In the past eight years, Wilkinson and her team have educated over 200 players, most of whom are adults seeking community. “Loneliness is a huge thing in big cities,” Wilkinson notes, “[people’s] individual stories really have the biggest impact”.

    London Metropolitan Brass  has provided this education for countless individuals… From recent college graduates to retirees, anyone who wants to become a part of this community, regardless of musical experience is encouraged to. “You can’t just be around the same kinds of people all the time,” Wilkinson notes.

    The passion she holds for social impact and community engagement directly translates to Wilkinson’s additional professional career at London Metropolitan University where she currently holds the title as the Director of Student Recruitment and Business Development. Her professional involvement in international education also dates back to her time as a university student.

    Hat 2: Study Abroad and London Metropolitan University

    As an undergraduate “I wandered into a building just to get warm and happened on a study abroad fair,” Wilkinson explains, “I’d never been on a plane before… I just took a leap”. She went on to study abroad at McGill in Montreal, Canada which she says “sparked my love for travel”.

    Upon graduation, Wilkinson thought back on what brought her joy in college, and other than her degree in music, she thought of her time abroad. This led to her first job in the International Office at King’s College London, followed by her time at Queen Mary working as a study abroad officer then at the University of Roehampton. She continues to seize opportunities that present themselves to her due to her hard work and incentive and now looks after a much wider portfolio at London Met.

    She strives to provide international opportunities for non-traditional students. “It’s not just for 19-year-old white girls; which, let’s face it, is what a large amount of traditional study abroad is,” she states. 92% of students at London Metropolitan have at least one underrepresentation marker and Wilkinson pushes to ensure that these students will be given access to the same study abroad opportunities as she was.

    Currently, “Our institution is probably the most socially diverse in the UK so we are working with institutions like HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the US on developing various partnerships both for research exchange and for student projects to try and kind of have this bilateral knowledge exchange and understand how do we replicate that success for our students with underrepresented backgrounds on our campus?” Wilkinson is playing an active role in this project and silently seems to indicate that work like this is representative of what London Met stands for as an institution.

    She describes London Met as a unique and special place to be and believes that adjusting to any more traditional institution would be very difficult after working there. “The people that you meet… everyone is so passionate about their agenda. You can’t work at London Met if you don’t want to change the world basically.” She further describes the institution as “driven by passion to make change for our students.”

    Hat 3: Gendered Leadership and MBA Dissertation

    Wilkinson brings these values of passion and thirst for change into her MBA dissertation which she has been working on over the past year and just finished this past September. After having to shift her topic when the pandemic hit, she decided to conduct her dissertation on the experiences of women Vice Chancellors and Deputy Vice Chancellors during the pandemic and how they had approached leadership during the crisis.

    Through her work, she examines the ideas of gendered leadership and questions whether or not the women she interviewed identified with those concepts. She describes these interviews with immense pride and gratitude noting how fortunate she was to be able to interview these accomplished women in business. 

    This dissertation topic directly overlaps into Wilkinson’s career as, she too, is a successful woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry. “I think I’ve probably worked harder because I’ve felt like I have to prove myself every single day,” she says “I’m here because I’ve worked really hard.”

    “It’s given me more drive, and it’s made me work harder and now I’m at the point that … I don’t really care as much what other people think,” she states, “But, certainly, ten years ago, even five years ago, I really struggled with that.” Wilkinson’s achievements and position in her career speak for themselves and, arguably, the exposure she has to the inequalities that accompany being a woman in business allow her to push even harder for change. This translates in her constant push for activism throughout her career.

    Hat 4: Climate Change and PhD

    Upon finding passion in international education, Wilkinson began to recognize that she is culpable for traveling so frequently which, in itself, contributes to climate change. She immediately began to think about how to fix this issue and quickly realized that there is not much data surrounding climate change and its relationship to travel. “No one has the data to help make informed decisions in higher education,” she states.

    This revelation encouraged Wilkinson to study for her PhD and she now says that there is much more being published on the subject since a year ago when she started. She wants to create a framework that universities can use to demonstrate social and educational impact of travel, allowing students to continue engaging in international learning opportunities whilst balancing their responsibilities around climate action. There are too many international programs that willfully fail to take into account sustainability and too many sustainability programs that willfully fail to take into account internationalization.

    “I love being given a problem and sitting down and figuring out how to solve it,” Wilkinson admits. Her passion for problem solving coupled with her drive to bring international education to a wider audience as well as her voice in modern-day activism is precisely what makes Wilkinson such a unique and inspiring person to sit down with.

    With completing her PhD in the not-too-distant future, Jenny Wilkinson does not cease to render any interviewer or peer speechless. Her ability to surround herself with other accomplished individuals allows her genuine humility to shine through as she describes her own endeavors and achievements. 

    Along with her infectious optimism and the passion that shines through in her voice, it is almost impossible not to assign new meaning to one’s own life after a conversation with Wilkinson. She wears countless hats, from creating attainable music education to the public, to bringing her passion for international education to countless students, to completing a PhD, to actively contributing to climate change activism. I encourage anyone reading to lean on Wilkinson as an example and try on a hat that they might not usually. She is proof that you do not have to be any one thing. Why put that limit on yourself?

    - Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Sabrina Vitale

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 02 May 2022 1:00 PM | Anonymous


    One Woman’s Journey Through Culture, Language, and Travel

    Mina Emam sits down with us to discuss her professional experience as an International Student Counselor in Tehran, Iran as well as her own perspectives on travel and the current state of our world.

    Mina Emam’s smile is audible as she expresses what a dream it would be for her to travel to Ireland and experience its culture and the sights it has to offer. Her passion for travel shines through as she reflects on her career in international education over the past 12 years. Although travel has been almost impossible recently, Emam maintains an infectious and refreshing outlook of hope.

    Despite the impact of challenges that recent events such as COVID-19, the Trump Administration, and Brexit have had on the students she oversees at Mava International Study, Emam seems hopeful that life and travel can return to what it was. “During these years, we’ve faced many challenges and many issues,” she says, “but, we continue.”

    She is hardly one to back down in the face of a challenge. Being a woman in the international education field alone has had its advantages and disadvantages. “I believe my gender was effective in my career path as people trust me more than if I was a man and they rely on me and they feel comfortable with me,” she explains -- noting the benefits that her gender may have had on her career, “But the other perspective is if I was a man, I would earn more and I could be more successful financially.”

    Regardless of gender norms, Emam continues to be a successful and powerful voice that instigates hope through her position at Mava International Study. As an International Student Counselor, she has forged connections with students who have studied globally throughout the past 12 years and made individual bonds so strong that she is still in contact with many of them today.

    “The things I do for students changes their lives and their career paths,” she notes, “I see how I can be effective in other people’s lives.” She further mentions that the students themselves have worked hard to stay in contact with her over the years and that many of them have told her directly how much her work has shifted their lives.

    What sets Emam apart from many international educators is the passion with which she herself discusses travel and cultural and linguistic immersion. The excitement that she exudes when discussing her own travels and experiences moves beyond treating this career as a simple job and shifts into sharing something deeply meaningful to her with the students and people that surround her.

    Emam grew up and is currently based in Tehran, Iran and speaks about her country with tremendous pride and enthusiasm. “If you don’t visit Iran and its nature and people and cultures, I believe you are missing a big experience in your life,” she says, “ we have so much beauty here… It is a beautiful country and the people are very kind in every city.”

    Traveling within Iran recently, Emam expresses that, “when visiting different people and different cultures, it is so amazing and new for [her], even being Iranian.”

    Having grown up in Iran, Emam speaks Persian fluently, has been speaking English since she was a child, and has also studied German. Her interest in other cultures and experience in multiple languages makes her unique and deeply perceptive.

    Emam has held this international education position for over a decade now and has faced countless challenges and obstacles. Her response to these challenges is that “I am hopeful for the future.” A refreshing and effortless response to the hardships that continue to impact her career and life every single day. Emam continues to push forward and bring life-changing experiences to an entire new generation. 

    Simply and elegantly put, “it is a great experience to know people.” Mina Emam seems to approach her career based on personal connections, fresh perspectives, and passion. Which is why, when met with the opportunity to discuss another potential travel endeavor to Ireland, Emam’s voice shifts and the excitement she exudes resembles what I can only imagine are the same reactions from the students she mentors every day.

    - Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Sabrina Vitale

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 15 Nov 2021 1:00 PM | Anonymous


    Dr. Monika Setia is working as Regional Officer – Hyderabad with the United States - India Education Foundation (USIEF) – the Fulbright Commission in India - where she manages two U.S. State Department programs - Fulbright and EducationUSA. She has a work experience of more than 15 years in the education industry. After finishing her Ph.D. degree from The Pennsylvania State University in United States, Monika completed her postdoctoral fellowship from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore and then worked as an Assistant Professor with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) for five years. Monika has published her research in international journals, worked with both state and national ministries of health in India and international agencies on various projects, and offered multiple training programs for students and professionals.

    Monika has strong passion for educational exchanges and career development of individuals. She believes that exposure to high quality education, research, and professional systems along with right mentoring and guidance on choice of suitable education and career pathways are essential for personal, academic, career, and leadership development of individuals. Having pursued her Ph.D. degree from the United States and having studied and worked in the Indian education system, she is interested in utilizing her experience and skills to promote educational and scholarly exchange between India and the United States.

    Monika Setia has worked as the Regional Office at USIEF - the United States-India Educational Foundation (also the Fulbright Commission in India) for nearly four years. Her role includes managing two U. S. Department of State programs - Fulbright and EducationUSA. Monika is responsible for promoting study and academic exchanges across India and the United States through these two programs. She does this from the USIEF regional office based at the U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad.

    USIEF is essentially a bilateral organization that promotes and manages programs strengthening linkages between Indian and American institutions and this is done through different programs supported by both Indian and American governments. There is an inherent element of U.S. and Indian diplomacy and furthering the relationships between the two countries in Monika’s work. Through her work, Monika contributes to the promotion of joint research, collaboration, student and faculty exchange between India and the United States, and also student admissions to U.S. institutions. A component of the Fulbright program also involves facilitating higher education administrators from each country to visit and experience the higher education system institutions of the other country and sharing knowledge and best practices from their own country. 

    It seems like quite an important diplomatic role involving India and the United States and we were interested in finding out what a typical day looks like for Monika. 

    She is very much involved in strategic planning for both the Fulbright and EducationUSA programs. On a daily basis, she is also intensely involved in the student advising process through EducationUSA, speaking to students who want to pursue their higher education in the United States. On the Fulbright program, she works with both Indian and American scholars on their exchange process between India and the USA and promotes bilateral relationships between the two countries. Besides the long-term strategic management of both programs and the day to day advising, Monika also manages the administration involved in office, staff, budgeting, etc. 

    Normal office hours are 8:30 am when the consulate opens, but due to COVID she was working from home till very recently. We asked when the working day typically finishes, and she laughs. 

    "Honestly there's no end to the day – on most days, because we work closely with U.S. institutions, we are hosting sessions late into the evening." 

    We are curious to find out how Covid has changed her work, apart from having to work from home. 

    She tells us how USIEF expanded its reach during Covid to students located in many small towns and cities that USIEF was not able to reach previously. Going online gave them a wider audience, it gave them access to regions they were not able to reach before. So, she is now connecting with students and scholars who she would never have had a chance to speak with earlier. 

    "USIEF explored options to provide more opportunities to increase the number of students and scholars in more regions across India."

    Of course, when the pandemic first hit, like everywhere, there was a scramble to reach U.S. Fulbright students and scholars in India and likewise to monitor the situation for Indian students based in the United States. She thinks back to March 2020, trying to make sure U.S. students and scholars in India were safe, were given the options and support to get back to their country, and just at a very basic level, to ensure everyone was doing well. It was a very busy time, she felt there was a great responsibility to ensure students and scholars’ safety and it was quite challenging emotionally, something that people will all relate to when we look back to 2020. Of course, Fulbright has been unable to bring U.S. scholars to India since then, and there was a lot of work involved in adapting to the pandemic situation and this continued for months and months, but essentially, the main goal at that time was to ensure people’s safety and well-being. Monika shares how as part of her work on global higher education, the first need is to ensure the safety and well-being of exchange grantees. 

    Her role seems to be multi-faceted, requiring various skills and expertise, and we were curious as to what she loves most about these different tasks. 

    Monika loves interacting with students and scholars, guiding/mentoring them, taking care of their needs - sometimes psychological, sometimes operational, depending on what stage of their study or exchange process they are at or where they are located.  

    We reflect on how this is the basis for her work. Although she is dealing at a high level with U.S. and Indian institutions and the State Department to further public diplomacy between the two countries, it all comes down to facilitating processes to ensure that both U.S. and Indian students/scholars experience the other country and culture at its best! 

    On a parting note, we ask her to look into her crystal ball and think about what the future might hold for U.S. and Indian collaborations in higher education.

    Monika foresees change in future, with likely more internationalization happening across the educational institutions - more overseas branch campuses coming to India, more joint programs between institutions in India and abroad, and many more opportunities for academic collaborations. 

    We have no doubt that at the centre of this change and advancing India-U.S. relations will be Monika Setia and her organization, and at the heart of her work, the students and scholars will always remain the most important elements!

    - Interview by Global Leadership League members and volunteers, Noreen Lucey and Venkata Madhuri Gunti

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 15 Jul 2021 4:30 PM | Anonymous


    1. What is your current title, and where do you work? I am an International Student Advisor at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, CA.
    2. How did you learn about your current position? (Ex. Networking, Promotion, External Job Posting) I learned about my current job through an external job posting, but I also knew of an alumnus of my graduate program who already worked in the office, and we were able to connect to discuss the position. I have since moved up to a higher-level advising role.
    3. What sparked your interest in working in international education?My study abroad experience at 18 definitely triggered my interest in the field, but during my undergraduate studies, I also tutored students (many of whom were international students), and I knew that whatever I ended up doing, I wanted to help students.
    4. What was your first job in international education? My first international education job was as a Student Services Specialist at TALK English School in Boston. At the time, I did not have a graduate degree, and I didn’t have any luck finding jobs in universities. I found it easier to break into the field in ESL schools, but I still spent about 3 - 4 months job hunting before I found my job. I was also completing the Global Pro Institute at the time. I loved the job and working with ESL students; it was so rewarding to see them arrive at our school sometimes speaking little to no English and then start to gain confidence with the language and let their personalities emerge more.
    5. Tell us about your first international experience, either traveling or working abroad. My first experience abroad was a one-month educational program with Go Abbey Road in Italy, Greece, and France with about 30 other high schoolers from all over the world. It was my first time away from the United States, my family, and my comfort zone, and it was amazing, hard, educational, and eye-opening. It motivated me to go to college when I returned to the U.S. and seek out more study abroad opportunities in the future.
    6. Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job. Right now, a typical week at my job involves lots of advising emails, Zoom advising shifts, processing student requests and new documents, and meetings. My work is also cyclical, so at certain times of the year, I review financial aid applications, or recruit and train our orientation leaders, or manage our work authorization workshops. UC Berkeley is a huge university with thousands of international students, and my office has been extremely busy since the start of the pandemic; and we have been managing a higher volume of advising, emails, and paperwork than usual.
    7. What do you enjoy the most about your job? The thing I love the most about my job is the students. I love being able to help them, alleviate their stress and anxiety, and watch them grow.
    8. What is the most challenging aspect of your job? Typically, I would say the most challenging thing about my job is having the bandwidth and time to do everything that we would like to do for our students. It has also been an adjustment working at such a large university with so many students, as my previous jobs were all in smaller offices serving much fewer students. During COVID times, I would also add that the current administration and rapidly changing immigration policies have been extremely challenging.
    9. What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture? Working in international education has taught me just how important flexibility and open-mindedness are and that there is not always a “right” or “wrong” answer.
    10. Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth? I don’t have one specific career mentor, but I have had many professors and supervisors over the years who have helped me with my career growth, whether that meant directing me to apply to the Fulbright program or convincing me to stay in graduate school or guiding me towards professional development opportunities.
    11. Describe a moment in your career that you consider your greatest achievement. One of my greatest achievements and learning experiences was teaching English in Germany with the Fulbright program. It was a very tough year, and there were many times that I wanted to quit and go home, but I learned so much about perseverance, myself, and what I wanted both personally and professionally. After that year, I was really motivated to pursue the career path that I was interested in and make some big changes to my life.
    12. How has COVID19 Impacted your work life? I am currently working from home for the foreseeable future.
    13. If you are working from home, has that adjustment been difficult or enjoyable? Working from home has been both difficult and enjoyable. I do enjoy being home more and having more time and flexibility, but I miss the social aspect of work. It also has been difficult to find ways to create a separation between “work” and “home” when my workspace is now my bedroom.
    14. What type of things are you doing to balance your mental health and lack of social engagement? I have started meditating this past year, and that has been a wonderful way to keep me balanced. I have also been trying to keep in touch with my long-distance friends more through phone calls and Zoom.
    15. What is the best advice you can give to other global educators right now as we move into the new year? The best advice I can give to global educators right now is to lean on each other! It is a very difficult time to work in this field, but being open and supporting each other can help to alleviate that. Staying in touch with my work colleagues and graduate school friends has been immensely helpful to me during this time.

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 08 Jun 2021 3:30 PM | Anonymous


    International Coordinator, Strategic Partnerships and Networks

    Lund University, Sweden

    1. What is your current title, and where do you work? International Coordinator, North America at Lund University (Lund, Sweden)
    2. How did you learn about your current position? I networked my way to my first role at Lund University in 2016 and was promoted several times until I reached my current position.
    3. What sparked your interest in working in international education? Growing up as a minority in my hometown, I didn’t always understand why my different religion or the language I spoke at home made me the target for bullying or exclusion. I longed to be like everyone else and didn’t appreciate my uniqueness until much later in life. The intersection of my identity crisis, passion for learning/education, and interest in travel led me to a career in international education.
    4. What was your first job in international education? I created some opportunities for myself to work with international programs/students during grad school, but only through networking and lots of compromises, could obtain a paid position in international education.
    5. Tell us about your first international experience, either traveling or working abroad. I vividly remember traveling to England when I was five years old. The most exciting part was riding on a jumbo jet and seeing Buckingham Palace. After that point, I was fortunate enough to travel internationally a few more times before embarking on my first study abroad experience in college. To date, I have studied abroad twice as an undergrad, earned my master’s degree abroad, taught English abroad, and worked abroad in several countries.
    6. What do you enjoy the most about your job? I work as a project manager and love the process of bringing ideas to fruition. It’s exciting to work with different individuals and offices on campus and international stakeholders, like Embassies, partner universities, government agencies, etc. It is also fun to travel to different parts of the world to launch these projects and/or meet with partners to continue the management of such projects.
    7. What is the most challenging aspect of your job? I am originally from the USA and currently work in Sweden. Learning how to be a professional in the Swedish context and having to learn the language has been a challenge for me. It is a very humbling experience to have to make a good first impression in a foreign language which you’re still struggling to learn.
    8. Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth? I feel very fortunate to have had several people throughout my career who have been integral in my professional growth and development. I have always sought out at least one person at work whom I admire and try to learn as much from them as possible. I have also reached out to individuals I didn’t know but were “known” in our field. Each and every time, these individuals have generously shared their time with me and offered their wisdom. The individuals I have been able to learn from have forever changed me and my life. Without their guidance, I wouldn’t have ever had the courage to apply for a Ph.D., ask for that promotion, or take a leap of faith and move to another country without having secured a job prior to the move.
    9. Describe a moment in your career that you consider your greatest achievement. I feel like each day that I have worked abroad is my greatest “lesson learned” because I am continuously humbled by the realization that I have a very narrow understanding of how things work.
    10. How has COVID19 Impacted your work life? I started working from home in March and continued working from home until the end of the year (I am now on parental leave for 2021). COVID-19 made me realize how much of my job satisfaction had to do with where I worked and with who I worked. Having limited contact with colleagues and via a screen really changed things.
    11. If you are working from home, has that adjustment been difficult or enjoyable? I have tried to keep things interesting at home by experimenting with new things for lunch/snacks and using the time I used to spend commuting to and from work for other things.
    12. What type of things are you doing to balance your mental health and lack of social engagement? I have made an extra effort to reconnect with people I’ve lost touch with or don’t connect with as often as possible. It has also helped to make recurring video call dates with loved ones.
    13. What is the best advice you can give to other global educators right now as we move into the new year? Most people experience change as a stressful thing. They find it chaotic when the ordinary becomes unpredictable. But for me, I find change exciting. It’s an opportunity to take stock of what has been done and see how we can make it even better. So, my wish is for my fellow colleagues to use these uncertain times as an opportunity to take a step back, reevaluate what they’re doing and then make the changes needed to move forward in a more meaningful way.
    - Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Kanette Worlds

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 17 May 2021 11:00 AM | Anonymous


    Many people believe that trial and error is one of the best teachers. If you work in the field of international education, some might argue that it’s the only teacher. Unlike other professions such as medicine, law, or engineering, there is no clear-cut path or destination that will help you decide your career trajectory. Just ask Stephanie McCreary. Although she had envisioned traveling the world as a child, she had no idea that she would be able to translate that passion into a full-time job.

    Stephanie shares a few valuable lessons she has learned along the way as an international educator while exploring Europe, Asia, and Africa.

    1. Try new things.

    At 16 years old, Stephanie had an opportunity to study abroad in Belgium through a program sponsored by the Rotary Club. Her interest in other cultures and traveling began as young as six or seven, so her parents weren’t surprised and offered their full support.

    2. Don’t do what you think you should do.

    Stephanie enrolled in the creative writing program at Antioch College because she loved writing and didn’t know what else to study. Although she naturally assumed that she’d become a writer, she took advantage of the college’s cooperative education program, which enabled students to alternate semesters of on-campus study with off-campus work in a domestic or international location. She opted to enroll in the Buddhist Studies Program which took her to India. At the end of the program, Stephanie worked as a volunteer ESL teacher at a private school for children in Southern India, an experience that would prove invaluable later on.

    3. If it feels right, try it out.

    After graduating from Antioch, Stephanie spent two years working at an adult education center. She used her time at home in Milwaukee to save money and pursue research opportunities that would allow her to return to Asia. A TESOL Certificate program in Thailand seemed like the perfect fit. Stephanie found a job teaching middle school students in northern Thailand almost immediately after completing a four-week TESOL course. When she wasn’t working, she took time to explore neighboring countries like Vietnam and Singapore. Although she loved the Thai culture, the people, and the food, she eventually took a better-paying position teaching in South Korea.

    4. Go with your intuition.

    Staying true to her desire to see the world, Stephanie applied for another teaching position at an English immersion school in Istanbul, Turkey. Prior to arriving in Turkey, she had taken a trip to Chicago with her mom and attended a Turkish festival. Stephanie befriended a Turkish woman at the festival who connected her with a friend Stephanie would later meet in person after arriving in Istanbul. This small moment was a sign that she was on the right path. Stephanie says the energy and spirit of the city were palpable, and it was the first time since traveling abroad that she felt at home. The community of teachers and co-teachers afforded her an enriching social life and made the cultural adjustment easier.

    5. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

    Once Stephanie realized that IE was the path that she was destined to take, she decided to get a master’s degree from the School for International Training. The SIT program enabled her to participate in a short-term study abroad program in Senegal focused on language and social justice in the education system. She also spent six months as an intern with Barcelona Study Abroad Experience engaging with outbound students in Barcelona, Spain, and promoting study abroad programs to university students while working at the headquarters in Northampton, MA.

    6. Don’t close doors when you get an opportunity.

    Most recently, Stephanie was teaching abroad in Kurdistan, Iraq, for the Professional Development Institute at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. She accepted the 1-year position in October 2019. Everything was going well until the school completely shut down in February 2020 due to COVID-19. Stephanie thought she would be able to return to in-person classes within a month, so she took a trip to visit a friend in Jordan. In March, she realized that she would not be able to return to Iraq, so she booked a flight to Portugal to stay with another friend. As airports in Europe began shutting down, Stephanie ran out of options, and the only country that would allow her to enter was the USA. Stephanie returned to Wisconsin in mid-April, where she has continued teaching for PDI remotely while managing a huge time zone difference. The school has no immediate plans to open for in-person teaching until possibly Fall 2021. In the interim, Stephanie accepted a new position as an Academic Success Coordinator with Verto Education, a Portland, Oregon, based gap year program. She was hired with the intention of eventually working abroad in the South Pacific in Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. However, due to COVID-19, the Fall 2020 program was coordinated to be online.

    - Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Kanette Worlds

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 27 Apr 2021 2:00 PM | Anonymous


    I grew up mostly in western North Carolina in a family that never really traveled abroad. We didn’t do that much travel in the U.S., mainly taking family vacations to Florida or South Carolina. However, I knew as a child I wanted to travel and see more of the world. When I started high school, I studied French and became proficient in the language. My French teacher was really kind, supportive, and a bit quirky and didn’t naturally fit into where we lived, and I identified with that.

    I took all four levels of French and continued studying the language when I got to the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I didn’t know going into college that I wanted to major in French – I figured I would minor in it. I was studying biology because I wanted to be a veterinarian or zoologist but decided that it was not for me, although I still love animals. I changed my major to French at the end of my first semester and added on K-12 Education. During that time, I had my first international experience. I boarded a plane for the first time to study abroad in France in the spring of my junior year at Université Catholique de l’Ouest. My main goal was to improve my language skills. I wish I would have done it sooner. I loved studying abroad, getting to know my host family, and gaining a better understanding of the local culture. It also made the world seem a lot smaller and a lot more connected.

    My host family included two parents who had adult children that lived outside of the home. Their kids would come home to visit, and we would have dinner together. I also lived with another American student who was in the same program. It was great for accountability because they weren’t allowed to speak English with us. It was nice having someone to show us around town and explain the culture more in-depth. When I arrived in France, my written and verbal comprehension was better than my ability to speak. I returned from that experience having a better accent and improved French. It was great!

    I graduated in December, so it wasn’t the best time to find a teaching job. Instead, I took a job working with youth and mental health. After a year, I returned to France to become an English teaching assistant for middle and high school-age kids in a very small town in France. I did that for about seven months and then went back to the United States and decided to get a master’s degree in international education. I got a job in youth development, working on internships and career development for high school students.

    I didn’t get my first international education job until a year after graduate school, working for the UNC Hussman School of Media and Journalism, which is where I work now as the Director of Global, Immersive and Professional Programs.

    Fifty percent of my job is global. The other fifty percent is anything from managing any student experience outside of the traditional classroom to professional education programs. On the global side, I advise students on how to incorporate any type of global opportunity into their time at UNC. We have exclusive exchange partners from media and journalism and a robust visiting international scholars’ program for academics looking to gain professional development, conduct research, or take classes. I coordinate short-term programs and assist students who make independent reporting trips for capstone courses by making sure they have safety plans and are following travel regulations. I also help with coordinating domestic student travel for courses, lecture series, and professional workshops.

    Since coronavirus hit, our department has been working from home. We still have students who are interested in studying abroad, but not as many. We are still communicating with the university partners and assisting our international scholars who are in the country. It’s been a lot less coordinating global activities and more about organizing budgets, looking towards the future and transitioning some of our programs to include virtual components.

    For the role I’m in now, when I first got the job as a program assistant, I didn’t know it would be such a great fit for me. I was really excited about it, but I didn’t expect to be here long term because, in my mind, I pictured myself working in a study abroad office or at a provider. The reason I love my job so much now is that I do something different every day. Also, I know my students really well, which is so rewarding. I know what they are studying and what type of career paths they can go into. I enjoy being specialized in this area and knowing programs really well. I also get to travel with students and see their growth while on the trips. Students in the Hussman School are doing amazing things during their global programs, such as producing news stories, interning in the advertising industry, or creating great digital content. They impress me every day, and I feel lucky to follow their journeys.

    I found this position just by checking job boards. The thing that attracted my former boss to my application is the “Global HQ” website that I created after enrolling in the Global Pro Institute. Even though I didn’t work in global ed for a while, I learned to leverage my other work experiences and translate them to the position.

    - Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Kanette Worlds

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.
  • 06 Apr 2021 9:30 AM | Anonymous


    When I was in high school, I participated in a Rotary Youth Exchange program. It was the first time I had been outside of the country other than taking tourist trips to Mexico. I spent three weeks living with a Rotary family in Paris, France, and their son came back to California and stayed with my family. My dad ran the international travel center at Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, so I was very aware of international travel from a young age. As part of his job, he took students on trips all over the world. I started down this path because of him. His work at a university seemed fun and unique. Universities are like mini-cities and allow you to get a sense of what the world will look like in the future.

    That led me to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I studied abroad in Germany. Because I was older, I got a lot more out of the experience. I was studying language and culture. There were mostly American students in the program, but we lived in the dorms with German students. On the weekends, we got to travel and explore other parts of Europe. My undergraduate degree is in history and education, so I wrote my senior thesis on German education post-WWII. When I graduated from UCSB, I applied for the AmeriCorps VISTA Program working for Student Veterans of America in Washington D.C. This position allowed me to engage with universities all over the country, so the plan was to combine that experience with my study abroad involvement and eventually get a job in international education. Working with veterans gave me a well-rounded perspective on students and how to support people from different backgrounds and experiences. It was an excellent stepping-stone for me.

    I had been applying to jobs in higher education, but I wasn't getting them, so I decided to get more international experience by volunteering in Tanzania through WorldTeach. I taught English to a class of 40 students between the ages of 14 and 20 in a small village on the Eastern Coast of the country. There was another American volunteer and two local co-teachers. That experience changed my life and made me more appreciative of everything I have. The students were so happy and excited to learn and loved having us in their village. We were followed around everywhere. They made up a song for me one morning, and whenever you asked for a volunteer, everyone raised their hand!

    After I got back from Tanzania, I got a job at Stanford University working in housing. They have many international students, so even though I wasn't working directly in IE, I was able to get more experience with that population. I created a training program for our student staff and assisted the general student population with their housing needs. It was a great higher ed experience. From there, I decided to pursue a master's degree in higher and professional education at the UCL Institute of Education in London. While there, I realized the United States' university experience is different from other country's institutions. We have more programs and invest a lot more in the student experience versus strictly focusing on the academic experience. It was really interesting to talk to other international students about their academic experiences. My thesis for my master's was focused on intercultural competence development in higher education students via on-campus and study abroad programs.

    After applying for what felt like a thousand jobs, I was offered a position at UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars initially as a Programs Coordinator. The director left after a few months, so I applied and was promoted to Programs Manager. It's been a great job! We serve 12,000 international students and scholars at UCLA. I manage a vast portfolio of programs and events with the goal of promoting global connections, international understanding, and cultural sensitivity. These programs range from classroom-style cultural learning programs to large-scale welcome events with over 800 people in attendance. It's been a whirlwind for international students with all the visa and travel regulations related to COVID-19, but my staff and I are working hard to still make them feel part of the UCLA community, even if they are thousands of miles away from campus!

    - Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Kanette Worlds

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 16 Mar 2021 3:30 PM | Anonymous


    Gloria Kasang Bulus trained as a Climate Reality Leader in Washington State in 2017. She lives in Kaduna, Nigeria, and directs “Bridge that Gap,” an NGO working on the climate crisis and various other humanitarian issues, furthering the education of women and children. Last summer 2020, former US Vice President Al Gore presented the Alfredo Sirkis Memorial Green Ring Award to four climate activists at the 44th Climate Reality Leadership Corps Global Training. This Training is a virtual event to train attendees with practical skills and knowledge to build an equitable and inclusive movement for climate action and climate justice. Gloria Kasang Bulus was one of these four climate activists and where I first heard her story.

    We are delighted she agreed to share her story with the Global Leadership League, and we are honoured to share her inspirational story with you: 

    What got you into Climate Action, and how did you start?  

    I became very concerned and worried about the alarming rate at which climate change was impacting the world, especially in Africa. I knew there was a need for voices to be raised and people to take action. There was a need for people that can influence others to take action and lobby our elected leaders. Looking at the future and the coming generation, I realised there was a need for strong climate action, which has to take place now.

    I also understood the need for a clean and healthy environment because we do not have another planet, we only have now. Therefore, it is our responsibility to protect and take care of our environment. 

    The impact of the climate crisis is worse on the most vulnerable groups, such as children, women, the elderly and the sick, and people living with disabilities. The impact of the climate crisis is also worse on poorer countries due to a lack of capacity for adaptation and mitigation of these crises… these reasons alone were enough for me to take climate action.

    Starting out 

    I started taking action some years ago by visiting schools and teaching kids what climate change was all about and its impact, and how they can take climate action. I taught them using animated videos, games, etc., and also the planting of trees. I then registered a non-profit organisation in Nigeria that is focused more on environmental governance. Later, with support from other organisations, I started media roundtables with journalists to talk about the climate crises and support them in climate reporting. 

    I also brought together women to talk and advocate on climate action, especially with respect to energy-efficient cookstoves and climate-smart agriculture, through meetings, press briefings, focus group discussions, etc. With time I created a network called Network of Civil Society In Environment, which is comprised of different organisations and individuals working around environmental issues to support taking action collectively because together, we can have better results.

    What led you on the climate action journey? 

    My passion for a sustainable, clean, and healthy environment led me on the climate action journey. My eagerness to save the world for the future generation and avoid the next generation asking questions about why we didn’t take action even when we knew and saw the impact of climate change is what keeps driving me on the climate journey.

    Why do you think women are so key in the climate action story and combating climate change?

    Climate change impacts everyone, but not equally. Climate change can have a greater impact on vulnerable groups, including women, people living with disabilities, the elderly, and the sick. Climate Change can also have a great impact on developing countries. Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from climate change impacts due to existing roles, responsibilities, and cultural norms they have to embrace as women.

    If you agree with me, women and girls make up about 51% of the population. To meet the ambitious 1.5 °C target of the Paris agreement, it is critical that the needs, perspectives, and ideas of women are included in climate action so as to create just, effective, and sustainable solutions. Therefore, the role of women cannot be ignored if we truly want to combat climate change.  

    In climate action, indigenous women play a very important role because they have experienced the impacts of climate change for generations, and therefore, when it comes to environmental conservation and management, they take the lead.

    Their knowledge, experience, and expertise will contribute greatly to building resilience to climate impacts. The traditional skills and knowledge that women have relating to natural resource management in areas such as innovation, waste, and energy are effective tools in climate action strategies that I assure you can bring the desired results in addressing climate change.

    In building climate resilience in communities, women are very important. I can confidently say that communities strive better in resilience and capacity-building strategies when women are involved in planning. Women are more willing to adapt to environmental changes since their family lives are often more impacted than men. In terms of sharing information about community wellbeing that can involve climate action, which is important for resilience, women are good at this.

    By tackling climate change from a gender perspective, women’s rights are also addressed, which means climate justice for women.

    What role do you think education plays in climate change? 

    Education plays a vital role in bringing about behavioural change and plays an important part by teaching people how to live sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyles by becoming carbon neutral, energy-efficient, engaging in proper waste management, and reducing their own ecological footprint. 

    Education is essential in helping young people understand and address the impact of climate change; it encourages changes in attitudes and behaviour and helps young people adapt to climate change-related trends. In response to climate change, one can’t take away education because of the role it plays in bringing effective results.

    How do you get your word across, how do you campaign for climate action? 

    Basically, I use more women groups and media (both traditional and social media). Media is a powerful medium to get the climate message across to targeted groups and places.

    What obstacles have you come across?

    Lots of people think climate terms are too scientific and complex to understand. Some people don’t believe there is climate change despite the impact that is evident. They mostly believe some of this is happening from God and can be explained or addressed in that way. Funding, too, is a big obstacle but does not limit me.  

    What motivates you, and what keeps you going?

    My motivation comes from the fact I know that I am making some impact, and I can still make more impact. And that I am able to influence people to take action and speak about the climate crises. The messages of encouragement and commendations I receive daily keep me going, and when I see climate activists all around the world being active and taking climate action, I get motivated to do more.

    What advice would you have for the readers reading this in other parts of the world, in education positions, leaders of universities, student advisors, college administrators, etc.?

    The climate crisis is no respecter of persons, countries, class, or status. The only difference is some are most vulnerable than others. The responsibility for climate action is for everyone and not selected individuals or countries. We must take action now. We must advocate for a just transition to environmental sustainability. We must understand climate governance and lobby our elected leaders, and we must live eco-friendly lifestyles and continue talking about the solutions to climate change.

    - Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Noreen Lucey

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 02 Mar 2021 5:28 PM | Anonymous


    What is your current title, and where do you work?

    I'm an ESL teacher and the Program Coordinator for Children's & Cultural Programs. I work at the Gangnam International Education Center for the Gangnam District Government Office in Seoul, South Korea.

    How did you learn about your current position?

    I found the job listing on a popular job portal online.

    What sparked your interest in working in international education?

    My undergraduate degree is in International Studies (now known as "Global Studies"). I thought I would work for an international corporation, but I tried out working for major advertising and marketing firms, and it just wasn't my cup of tea. My favorite classes in college were anthropology, where I could really dig into the culture, and I knew I wanted to immerse myself in other cultures to learn and experience them more authentically. Also, when I studied abroad in France as a senior in college, my advisors really encouraged me to teach abroad. I wasn't really interested at the time, but coming from a family of educators, I realized that it could be interesting to at least try it out in an international environment, so I did.

    What was your first job in international education?

    My first real job was as an English guest teacher in Seoul, South Korea, via the EPIK (English Program in Korea) government program. The process isn't necessarily difficult, but it does have a number of steps: acquiring many documents and notarizing them; gathering reference letters; creating a resume; submitting a cover letter; answering essay questions; creating a sample lesson plan; getting a background check; etc. Overall the process took about nine months, from applying for my federal background check to applying and waiting for the results to landing in Korea. However, if you don't use EPIK and apply to schools directly, it can take less than three months if you already have the necessary documents for your visa.

    Tell us about your first international experience, either traveling or working abroad.

    My first international experience was studying abroad in Toulouse, France, in college. I went through the SIT (School of International Training) program. There were about 10 of use from various universities in America, taking French language, history, and culture courses together at the university in Toulouse. We also had internships as part of the program, and I was able to work at a dance studio, translating promotional material and teaching dance classes (in French!). We also had many excursions and field trips: we learned about winemaking, wine pairings, and the importance of French gastronomy; we took historical tours and learned about the architecture; we also had a second homestay in rural French villages where we chose a research topic and conducted research with the locals, which we then presented (also in French).

    It was an extremely eye-opening experience, where I learned many similarities, parallels, and differences between my culture as a Cameroonian-American and the French culture and their underlying social struggles as well. It also highlighted how race, nationality, and culture are viewed and handled outside of America and how much privilege our passport holds as Americans. I only wish I'd studied abroad sooner; I made ENORMOUS progress in my language ability and probably would've tried to study abroad again if I'd started earlier!

    Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.

    My work hours are from 9-4, though I stay later at certain points of the year if we have children's camp or other special projects. Our school is primarily for adult language learners, but when I was hired, they had just begun working on elementary programs. Since I have lots of elementary teaching experience, my director was very eager for me to join the team and help with the design of those programs. I teach adults from 10 AM to 1 PM, have lunch from 1:00-2:00, then depending on the day, I either have an elective with adult students from 3:00-4:00 or teach elementary students from 3:00-5:00, or I'm doing assessment tests and processing applications for elementary students from 3:00 until…I feel like I've done enough for the day. Every other month, we have a Culture Day for our adult students, and I'm in charge of developing activities and informative presentations on the theme. The themes are usually around American or Western holidays, though I try to add a more global spin to it. For example, in October, our Culture Day was about Halloween; December is about Christmas; May was about weddings, but since we have teachers from many different countries (such as the UK, Ireland, South Africa, and Kenya), we had each teacher do short presentations on weddings in their countries with Q&A discussions from the students, and activities to follow.

    What do you enjoy the most about your job?

    I like that I can work with many different age groups. I like that, for the most part, all of the students are very motivated to learn. I absolutely love my staff and co-workers and appreciate that our opinions and knowledge as educators are taken into consideration when implementing new procedures or selecting materials; it's very rare for a Korean school or educational institute to do that with its foreign staff. We all love teaching and want to help the students as well as we can, in fun and creative but meaningful ways, and we try to do that within the demands and confines of Korean culture.

    What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

    Communication is not always clear or succinct, and some decisions seem illogical or more complicated than they need to be. In Korean culture, the order of power and respect is very seriously adhered to, and because of that, questions have to go all the way up all the rungs of the leadership ladder before a decision is made, then we have to wait for that decision to make it all the way back down to us teachers. It can be tedious, and there is sometimes a disconnect between us teachers, who are on the ground and directly understand the needs of our students, and the education heads at the government level who don't really see our day-to-day needs and challenges.

    What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture?

    I've learned that I really value the push to be creative, unique, and outspoken that is instilled into American children. Growing up, I was very introverted but also very competitive. In America, and in my African family, trying your best in order to shine or be the best and be recognized is a good thing. It's not like that in Korea. While they value education, the motivation is different. They are taught to blend in and be one; it's almost seen as rude to "show off" how much you know or to just be a very eager student. This made it challenging in some classes where students would not raise their hands or answer questions if they were the only ones to do so. Also, the pressure to excel and succeed here, as well as the definition of success, is very different from what I was raised to believe. However, I've also learned that Americans tend to think we and our culture and ways of thinking are the center of the universe and the norm everywhere, and it's definitely not. Other cultures work just fine, and their people are thriving and enjoying themselves on ideals that are almost the opposite of American ideals. I've learned that there is more than one way to do something and to live your life.

    Is there a value/principle from another culture that you have embraced and applied to your own life?

    I really like how Koreans tend to share, especially when it comes to food! When Koreans receive a gift, they tend to offer it to others around them first (if it's shareable), and they are extremely conscious of how others in a group feel or are perceiving them. It doesn't always work out well, but I appreciate the awareness—in Korean, it's called "nunchi," which is kind of like your intuition about others, and it's something I think many people could practice more. I also love the focus on skincare vs. heavy makeup—I never tended to my skin so much before moving here, but they really value good skin and also appreciate being in nature and spending time outside.

    Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth?

    At this point, I do not. However, I do keep in touch with a few supervisors from my college days, and I look to them for inspiration and as role models.

    Describe a moment in your career that you consider your greatest achievement.

    As a personal achievement, it was the moment I learned that I HAVE to make the classroom fun for the students but also fun for ME. If I'm not having a good time, I know my students can't be. When I focused on this, it made lesson planning and teaching much more enjoyable, which was an asset to my students' experiences. In Korea, for English learners, one of the main challenges is that students are super self-conscious, shy, and critical about their speaking performance. It's more important to create a comfortable learning environment where they know they can speak freely and practice out loud without feeling afraid or embarrassed. Testing and assignments are important to the higher-ups, but the goal is to be able to function well in English, and sometimes you as the teacher need to make an executive decision on how your classroom and lessons will be. Other things I'm proud of - I was able to teach at a school for the deaf and blind, and it was such a fulfilling and humbling experience. The students (high schoolers) were so bright and just as eager and fun as any other student I've had. I also got to create many courses related to the arts and my culture. Korea values education but doesn't really see art, music, dance, or theatre as something that is as important as English, math, or science. They also don't have a lot of exposure to other cultures, so being able to share those things and help them connect those subjects with learning English was a great accomplishment. Finally, the International Institute of Education awarded me the Gold Prize for a video contest highlighting my life as an English teacher in Korea. It was very meaningful because it was my first year teaching, I was able to share my lessons and teaching philosophy with others, and as a Black woman, I was able to show other people who look like me that we can travel to ethnically homogenous countries and still be appreciated and make an impact on others' lives.

    How has COVID19 Impacted your work life?

    I'm actually on maternity leave right now, so I'm at home, not working. Before, I was working from home for a few weeks; before that, I was still commuting to school to teach online. Korea has handled this virus much better than many other countries, and there has never been a total shutdown or lockdown. Elementary schools are still meeting in person, with one-third or less of students coming in on their given days; all the higher grade levels (including university) are teaching online, either from the school or from home. The biggest impact is probably that student numbers have dropped at my school, so we have fewer classes and smaller classes. Some teachers also left because of all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic when it first began, so our staff has shrunk. Many of the programs for this year had to be canceled or postponed, so I've actually had a lot less on my plate in that regard. The biggest adjustment has just been transferring things to an online format. We do live classes, create more electronic materials, and I even hosted YouTube education segments for our elementary students as an alternative for the usual camps and culture programs we would do throughout the year. So, I've learned a lot of technical and presentation skills and have had to connect with students in new ways, such as lots of email follow-ups and actually having to schedule times to meet at least once per session versus seeing each other every day.

    If you are working from home, has that adjustment been difficult or enjoyable?

    It has been the absolute BEST! I actually only started working from home because I was pregnant, and my doctor strongly advised me to stop commuting and stay home; my school still had us coming in each day to teach virtually from our school offices. My commute was 45-60 minutes each way, so I'm very glad I no longer need to go through that!

    What type of things are you doing to balance your mental health and lack of social engagement?

    It's been very difficult with many places shut down. I was also pregnant for most of the year and now have a newborn to tend to, so I've been especially careful about where I go and what I'm exposed to now that I have a little one at home. The biggest things that have helped me are having schedule Zoom meetings with my family and friends, watching TV comedies, taking walks around the neighborhood, and just resting. I was feeling pressure to try and use this time to start this project and that project and basically try to monetize this time period, but that's also a very American, capitalist mindset, and it just doesn't work in my current situation. I've instead pursued hobbies that I've always wanted to do but haven't had time for, and I'm doing them just for fun, such as learning how to sew, polishing up on my French, and reading tons of new books.

    Has enrollment of international students at your institution decreased?

    Our center doesn't really accept international students; as a government institution, we are meant to serve the local residents of our district, so only Koreans are enrolled. As long as you are a resident of our district, you can enroll. We've had a few Japanese and Chinese students, but they were essentially Korean residents, not really international students.

    Has participation in study abroad activities decreased?

    It has definitely decreased. Many students enroll in our school to prepare for job certifications or to go abroad, either for school or work. The pandemic has halted that since the main nations where students go (the USA and the UK) are still seeing high cases of the virus. As an alternative to going abroad, we've offered more opportunities to speak one-on-one with a foreign teacher, but for the most part, students are just postponing their plans on their own.

    How are students at your institution coping with the COVID19 restrictions?

    We have moved completely online. It's good for students who had to travel long distances, or who didn't even live in our district, because they can participate now more easily. However, many of my students miss the face-to-face interactions, and since we have adult students, many of them are parents. This means they now have to watch their children during the time they would normally be taking classes, so many have had to postpone their studies in order to assist their kids with their own online learning.

    What is the best advice you can give to other global educators right now as we move into 2021?

    Instead of thinking of COVID as a temporary problem, see it as a lifestyle change and as an opportunity to try newer, better, more creative teaching strategies. The sooner we accept that this may very well be a permanent lifestyle change, the sooner we can move forward with creating a new normal for ourselves and for our students. This time has shown us that virtual learning is TOTALLY possible and can be just as, if not more, effective as face-to-face learning. Cracks and holes in traditional education have also been exposed thanks to this epidemic, and I only hope that our government and education officials will really see the value we bring and the challenges we endure as educators and make more deliberate measures to support us—and by association, our students and their families—in the future.

    Atembe Giles is an international educator, writer, and performer living in Seoul, South Korea. She has more than five years of international education experience and has lived in and traveled to more than ten countries since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her specialties include utilizing the arts as a teaching tool and as a motivational device to encourage students to learn about the world around them while finding new ways to express themselves and excel in their language learning. She plans to continue her international education journey when she returns to the USA in 2021, either by helping international students enroll in American schools or helping American students to enroll in study abroad programs.

    - Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Kanette Worlds

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

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Our members come from different backgrounds, abilities, levels of experience, and parts of the world. Our goal is to embrace this diversity and encourage relationships across generations and experience levels for the benefit of all involved. 

The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purposes of advancing women’s leadership skills, knowledge, and connections.


Our Mission

The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders.  Become a Member