NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference – Seattle, Washington, United States

NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference
Seattle, Washington, United States

Although most travelers have probably never heard of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, they’ve probably worked with ‘em. NAFSA’s mission is to advance international education and exchange. From study abroad companies to language learning centers to educational tours – they’re all under the NAFSA umbrella. At the annual conference, thousands of educators descended to Seattle to attend workshops, network and learn about the cutting edge in international education.

Some of the Bootz Crew headed up to the expo, featuring hundreds of exhibitors, including educational institutions, product providers and service providers. If you’re interested in educational touring, volunteering or studying abroad, there’s a company that can help you do it. Plus, there’s host of other services that will be more than happy to take your money as well.

“How Cool is That?” Programs
For those interested in studying in the Middle East, the American University in Beirut offers semester, yearly and full programs, with classes taught in English. The large Dubai Knowledge Universities campus hosts 16 different branch campuses from schools throughout Europe, North America and the Pacific.

Mobility International USA promotes “travel with a purpose” for people with disabilities. This organization facilitates study for disabled students entering the United States as well as American students going abroad.

Major-Specific Schooling
Study culinary arts in the heart of famous food country at the Apicius Culinary Institute of Florence. Students can enter for one semester or stay for the whole two year program. If art is more your thing, cross town and head to the Florence University of the Arts for intensive courses on art history.

Students who are unable to study abroad without receiving credit for their major or area of study should check out the Knowledge Exchange Institute. This organization offers discipline-specific studies and internships overseas. For example, a student studying medicine would attend an institution known for its medical training, and complete an internship in a hospital or clinic.

The School for International Training in Vermont offers a wide array of advanced degrees for those interested in international humanitarian work, including programs in sustainable development, intercultural relations and conflict transformation. In a unique joint venture, SIT’s international program requires Peace Corp service to fulfill degree specifications.

Web Resources
The two heavy hitters in study abroad web resources are the StudyAbroad.com and the GoAbroad.com networks. You can search programs on both of these sites by city, country and/or subject. StudyAbroad.com maintains an excellent online guide to education abroad. GoAbroad.com offers detailed information on volunteering, interning and teaching abroad as well – without the overwhelming front-page ads and offensive orange layout.

Go Green Programs
If you want to be outdoors and environmental studies is your thing, there are a number of companies with solid reputations and excellent projects. A market trailblazer founded in 1980, The School for Field Studies has programs in Australia, Kenya, Turks and Caicos, Mexico and Costa Rica. With SFS, students take part in ongoing 5-year research plans. The Boston University-credited program offers both summer and semester-length programs.

Based in the UK, Greenforce offers 10-week programs with up to 18 hours of credit. There are six projects to choose from and this NGO makes conservation a priority with a goal of promoting “environmental and economic sustainability”. Founded in 1997, it is one of the younger international research programs.

With 21 years of experience, International Student Volunteers, Inc. “combines conservation, education and recreation.” With both U.S. and international programs, ISV is unique for its incorporation of adventure travel with conservation work.

Work/Volunteer
The International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership offers a unique study-volunteer combo. In addition to local classroom study, students spend 15-20 hours per week volunteering at an orphanage, health clinic or other human-interest agency. ISPL also offers a master’s degree in international service.

The granddaddy of work-abroad programs, BUNAC continues to offer American and British under 35s the opportunity to work or volunteer abroad. The 8-week to 18-month programs are mostly based in Commonwealth countries, however, Peru was recently added to the list.

Tours with a Twist
Although there are hundreds of programs that offer tours, Global Exchange will make sure you learn when you embark on one of theirs, called “Reality Tours”. Reality tours educate people about global programs with the hope of inspiring participants to create positive changes in the region.

Founded in 1995 as a resource for families with children adopted from China, Our Chinese Daughters Foundation offers custom trips for families wishing to learn more about Chinese history and culture. Whether it’s visiting the adoption city and orphanage or attending summer camp to learn the Chinese language, these programs “explore what it means to be a Chinese-American/Canadian family”.

Multiple Destination Study Abroad Providers
WorldSmart is brought to you by the same people in charge of the Up with People leadership program. This three-continent program offers classes in 18 different cities throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, changing each week. This community-service based program also emphasizes global understanding and conflict resolution.

They like to call it the “Institute for Shipboard Education”, but a new coat of paint does not a new ship make. The floating college campus, Semester At Sea is more popular than ever, with enough onboard classes to keep the parents happy and plenty of off-ship fun for the students.

Similar in nature, but without the screw, drink and party your way around the world reputation (yet), The Scholar Ship is a new venture, with its first scheduled sailing in January of 2007. Despite the .org web address and cutesy name, don’t expect this Royal Caribbean Cruises-backed enterprise to be much different than its competitor Semester at Sea.

Language-Focused Learning
LanguagesAbroad.com partners with schools in 50 different countries, promoting 30 different languages in all regions of the world. The International House World Organisation has more than 120 language-intensive schools in 40 countries, with more than 50 years of experience.

The American Association of Intensive English Programs promotes study in the United States for students interested in improving their English skills, usually with a goal of furthering their education in an English-speaking country. The University and College Intensive English Programs group is a similar organization. The ELS Language Centers also teach English.

Study Abroad Consortiums
Everybody’s a part of something bigger. These head honchos help promote their member schools as attractive study abroad destinations while financing scholarships and serving as a governing body. There’s one for North America, Europe, colleges and even youth travel. Many individual countries have consortiums of their own as well. If you’re interested in studying in a particular country and want to know more about your schooling options, check for a central resource.

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