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Dispatches from Minneapolis, MN

April 7th, 2017

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The Annual AACRAO Conference this year was held in Minneapolis, MN which marked the third and final stop on my Midwest tour of international education-related conferences. Representing both the Association of International Credential Evaluators and the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc., speaking at three sessions, hosting and moderating the 2017 AICE Symposium meant I had a full plate with little time to catch my breath or sightsee. Nicolette Mall, where the Convention Center and the Millennium Hotel I was staying at was under heavy construction leaving the Downtown deserted with little or no evidence of life other than the two thousand AACRAO attendees milling about the Skywalk. Apparently, the construction has been underway for four years and still in progress in preparation for the Super Bowl.

Joined by fellow AICE Endorsed Members Beth Cotter and Aleks Morawski and ACEI’s Marketing Director, Laura Sippel, the early days of the AACRAO Conference kept us occupied with booth duty at the Exhibit Hall and reception hopping in the evenings.

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L-R: Drew Carlisle (AACRAO), Melanie Gottlieb (AACRAO, Deputy Director),
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert (ACEI President & CEO and AICE President)

Attending the International Educators Luncheon stressed the gravity of the new administration’s anti-immigration policies in DC and its negative impact on the flow of students to U.S. institutions of higher education. At the International Educators Reception, an annual event sponsored by the Paver Family Foundation, it was an honor to be recognized by Dr. William Paver, as the incoming Chair of the AACRAO IESC (International Education Standards Council) for EDGE (Electronic Database on Global Education).

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L-R: Aleks Morawski (Director of Evaluations at FC, Endorsed AICE Member), Zepur Solakian (President of CGACC), Bill Paver (President of FCSA &Past AACRAO President), Beth Cotter (President of FCA, Endorsed AICE Member), Jim Bouse (AACRAO President), Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert (President & CEO of ACEI & President of AICE) at the AACRAO Board Reception

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Photo: AACRAO Staff, Board, Sponsors and Special Guests at the International Educators Dinner, Mercy Restaurant in Minneapolis, MN

Though I didn’t attend the Opening Plenary with Garrison Keillor as the featured speaker, I made sure not to miss the Closing Plenary with Danny Glover and Felix Justice as featured speakers, and was not disappointed. Mr. Glover and Mr. Justice spoke of their experiences during the Vietnam Era, the struggles of Civil Rights movement, and ultimately Mr. Glover’s advice that what truly matters, is the connections we make with others and the lives we impact.

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AACRAO Closing Plenary: Danny Glover and Felix Justice

The AICE Symposium “Setting the Standard for Graduate Admissions: Three-year Degrees and Other Admissions Challenges” was kicked off with a wonderful reception at the Mission American Kitchen Bar and Grill. Invited guests, including AACRAO President, Jim Bouse, AACRAO Deputy Director, Melanie Gottlieb and representatives from U.S. universities, AACRAO staff, and AICE Endorsed Members and Affiliates were all in attendance. To say the reception was a smashing success, is an understatement!

The AICE Symposium, a full-day event, was also a success with thirty-one attendees participating in a lively and collegial discussion on topics covering the Bologna three-year bachelor degrees, the three-year bachelor degrees from India, and the three-year bachelor degrees from Australia, South Africa and Israel. Panelists and attendees collaborated in defining guidelines that will help AICE continue refining the Standard document. A full report of the Symposium’s talking points will be available shortly and posted on the AICE website.

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This ends my Midwest tour! My next adventure takes me to the Southern Hemisphere, where I will be attending the Gronningen Declaration Network in Melbourne, Australia, to be one of its invited signatories. Stay tuned!

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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Dispatches from Association of International Recruitment Council (AIRC), Miami, FL

December 1st, 2016

I’m here in Miami, FL, at the annual AIRC Conference. International student recruiters, credential evaluators and admissions professionals are looking at the new President-Elect’s nationalist platform with caution wondering whether the new administration will have an adverse affect on the flow of international students to the U.S. Already we are hearing that the recent Brexit vote which led to the United Kingdom exiting the European Union has deterred international students from applying to universities in England. According to the annual Open Doors report of the Institute of International Education, “the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities grew by 7.1%, to top one million in the 2015-16 academic year.” The report records 10 straight years of growth in the number of international students studying at U.S. campuses, however with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, concern of the possible negative impact on future enrollments from abroad is on everyone’s mind.

We are already hearing the chatter that international students, fearing the new administration’s hard-right, nationalist, anti-globalist and xenophobic policies are looking to countries such as Australia and Canada to continue their studies. This collective cautiousness on the part of the international students and international education professionals is mainly because we know virtually nothing about the Trump Administration’s higher education policies as he has not articulated any specific initiatives or policies during his presidential campaign or even now in the days leading to his inauguration. The new administration will most likely be more friendly toward to the for-profit higher education industry and less interested in diversity and affirmative action. In fact, there is talk about monitoring university faculty whose teachings may have a “liberal” bias.  What is inevitable is that many of the initiatives of the Obama Administration will be scrapped.

Education on the international front will most likely take a hit. The image of the United States as a “welcoming country” for international students and scholars will be tarnished and it will take a long time to rebuild and restore it. Even though, Trump has singled out his ire toward Muslims and Mexicans, the sentiment is felt by all foreigners who see themselves as being targeted by this viewpoint.

The immediate future of U.S. higher education and international students may be bleak but one factor that will keep the American higher education system in the positive light is that it is still a strong and attractive option in the global perspective. Most of the top universities are located in blue states which embrace a friendlier and more hospitable outlook toward international students and scholars.

Here at AIRC and in meeting with international recruiters from the world and the U.S., it is evident that education agents are preparing themselves by ramping up their marketing efforts to keep the international students’ interest from waning and encouraging them to study in the U.S.  Attracting international students whose impression of the U.S. as an unwelcoming country under Donald Trump will be a challenging task for international recruiters. These are unchartered waters we are entering into as we see a wave of anti-globalism, nationalism and xenophobia appearing in not just the UK, US, but also in France, Spain, Austria, Germany, and Poland. The question is how we will navigate this unwelcoming and somewhat hostile environment in order to protect the integrity of U.S. higher education as the preferred destination for international students.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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ARGAV©: ACEI’s 5-Step Practical Guide in Helping Refugees and Displaced People without or limited Documentation

November 5th, 2016

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The displacement of people because of conflict/war and/or caused by environmental/political/economic crisis means that many may arrive at refugee camps or their adopted countries with little or no documents supporting their academic achievements.  At the recent NAFSA Region XII Conference in Palm Spring, CA, ACEI President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert presented a session on this topic with focus on “Syria: Education in Crisis and Providing Pathways for Refugees.” In her presentation, Jasmin introduced ACEI’s five-step process, known as ARGAV©, which serves as a practical guide when assisting refugees and displaced people.

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Let’s take a look at each of the five steps recommended in this model:

Step 1. Assess the overall situation

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Assess the overall situation to determine if the claim for lack of documentation is legitimate (that is, is the source country at war or devastated by natural/environmental crisis that prevents the individual in securing his/her academic documents?). You may look at a variety of sources to obtain confirmation, such as:

  • Check the US Department of State website
  • Search Internet on recent news from official news sources
  • Email the institution and/or Ministry of Education in the source country
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in the source country
  • Contact the Embassy or Consulate of the country
  • Telephone the institution (seek the help of a native speak or someone fluent in the language)

Step 2. Reconstruct the individual’s academic history

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One way to obtain an understanding of your applicant’s predicament and academic achievement is by reconstruct their academic history.

  • Follow your general procedures (as you would all prospective applicants)
  • Require completion of an application
  • Require submission of official academic documents
  • Conduct an interview

Step 3. Gather Documents

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In the absence of complete academic documents, there are other types of documentation an individual may have in his/her possession that may include any of the following:

  • Gather any available academic and/supporting documents
  • Student IDs
  • Registration cards/enrollment slips
  • Any transcripts, certificates/diplomas even if incomplete
  • Copies of licenses
  • Certificates of professional standing/membership
  • State examinations certification
  • Proof of tuition payments/receipts from institution’s bursary
  • Sworn statements/affidavits from exiled faculty/school administration
  • Newspaper clippings/articles/announcements or printed lists of graduated students

Step 4. Assess Course Competency

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Assessment of an individual’s competency in a course or series of courses may be achieved through the following methods:

  • Interview by member of faculty
  • Assignment of special project
  • Challenge/placement examination

Step 5. Verify

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Finally, we need to verify and check everything that has been presented and collected to prepare a portfolio/dossier on the individual.

  • Confirm again the crisis situation in the country and institution with official sources (e.g. U.S. Department of State, Embassy of the country from which the individual originates)
  • Ensure that you have in-house expertise on the country/region in question and its education system
  • Compare and verify any document gathered against samples from the same country and institutions in your archives
  • Use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter for your applicant and LinkendIn and Academic.edu for scholars from the conflict area
  • When in doubt consult with and seek advice of colleagues in your profession and/or reach out to external sources such as independent evaluation services (members of AICE-Association of International Credential Evaluators)

ARGAV is a dynamic guide and we welcome your comments and suggestions. Please share with us your experiences and any tips you may have on this subject so that we consider adding them to the guide.

Thank you.

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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What’s Your Type? Making Online Education Work

May 26th, 2016

OnlineEducation

Originally posted at http://www.affordable-online-colleges.net/online-education/

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Tijuana’s Youth Orchestra: Bach, Not Banda, Mahler, Not Mariachi

April, 7th 2016

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I know about El Sistema and the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra, where Gustavo Dudamel got his training. I also know about his work with YOLA, the Youth Orchestra of LA, something Dudamel was behind creating. Both El Sistema and YOLA give inner city kids a way off the streets into the world of classical music.

With Venezuela in turmoil,  the future of El Sistema, funded by oil revenue, may be jeopardized. It seems, however, that like a lesser-known youth orchestra in Tijuana may have a bright future. You don’t typically associate classical music with Tijuana, but the Tijuana Youth Orchestra gives the lie to that assumption.

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The story begins in January 1991, when the Soviet Union was breaking up. Eduardo Garcia Barrios was studying conducting in Moscow at the time. Barrios and his musician colleagues wanted to start a youth orchestra somewhere; that somewhere turned out to be a world away, in sunny Baja, Mexico. Barrios, along with a Russian harpist, Elena Mashkovtseva, moved across the globe from icy Russia to Baja, and founded the Baja California Orchestra for adults. The enterprising Barrios also founded REDES 2025, a program to train at-risk young people to become classical performers. In a Independent Producer’s Project feature, he told journalist Sam Quinones, “Music has this power. To play music you need discipline, to understand your body. It’s 120 kids doing one thing at the same time…it would be cheaper to make football teams, but music provides something different, spiritual order.”

Those words could have come from the much more famous Gustavo Dudamel. Both men, however, are doing the same thing: transforming young lives with the power of music.

Listen here to the NPR / KCRW feature. And watch a clip of the Tijuana Youth Orchestra — it’s a big orchestra, not as big as the Simón Bolivar, but big nevertheless. Have a look:

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

toms

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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Brussels: Impact of Terror Threats on Studying Abroad

March, 24th 2016

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Recent news of the terrorist bombings at the airport and subway in Brussels have justifiably raised safety and security concerns in American parents and their children studying abroad. Reading the news headlines and listening to reports on the radio and television with minute by minute updates do accelerate anxiety and a sense of vulnerability in anyone who travels, has loved ones traveling and studying overseas. We even sense the level of anxiety increasing here in our own towns and cities, yet we must never lose sight of our own inner strength and resolve to not cower and succumb to fear but to continue with our lives.

One thing that threats from terrorism do to our psyche is to react by taking actions that actually end up alienate us from our international partners. When it comes to education, the one thing we should commit to bolster rather than eliminate, is to continue our support and encouragement of study abroad programs. We need our young to travel and see the world beyond ours, expose them to the diverse cultures and peoples which will help them be good ambassadors of our country and return with a broader and better understanding of those living outside our borders. Our institutions of higher education need to be beacons of learning where qualified candidates from different corners of the world can pursue their academic dreams so they too can return to their home countries with a better understanding of the U.S.

We cannot build walls. How high does the wall have to be to keep the Internet out? We are not living in a time of moats and high walls to protect our domains. We cannot, in the 21st century employ primitive techniques of the 13th century. We will not succeed. We will, however, through our steadfast commitment to improving our education systems and programs that foster student exchange be able to overcome bigotry, distrust and xenophobia.

Helpful links:

Quinnipiac Students From Mass. Run To Safety After Brussels Airport Blasts

Following Brussels Attack, U.S. Universities Reach Out To Students Abroad

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Apollonian v. Dionysian Music Experience

January 28th, 2016

Apollonian_v__Dionysian_Music_Experience___Rhythm_Planet

The other day, while listening to KCRW’s weekday program, Morning Becomes Eclectic, I was listening to a new Coldplay song called “Major Minus”, a big and absorbing musical tapestry that you can get lost in. I also thought about the film premiere of the Electric Daisy Carnival on Hollywood Boulevard the other night, where Kaskade and Jason Bentley were deejaying and the crowd went over the edge.  Several people got hurt but most had a great time.

Then I saw a picture taken the other day at the El Rey performance of the punk rockers Pink Eyes, where the lead singer was handing the microphone over to an ecstatic fan held aloft  in the mosh pit.

It occurred to me that all three musical items, the Coldplay song, the Pink Eyes show, The Electric Daisy Carnival were modern day versions of the Dionysian concept from Greek mythology that was revived by Nietzsche’s book The Birth of Tragedy.

Let me explain: According to Greek mythology, both Dionysus and Apollo are songs of the über god Zeus. Dionysus is the god of wine, ecstasy, and intoxication. Dance.  Body. Music.

Apollo is cerebral: the god of the sun, reason, and dreams. Head music. Music to meditate or levitate by.

I listen to a lot of classical music and jazz. Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, Debussy, Coltrane, Miles Davis. Also tropical latin music by Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Celia Cruz, and others. I like dancing to Latin music, but have to remember various steps and combinations moves. And as listeners to my KCRW shows know, I love the Brazilians too: Jobim, Dori Caymmi, Gal Costa, and many others.

I guess my preferences run more to the Apollonian. I sit in my living room, enjoy a glass of wine, and focus my listening on these artists regularly. I sit still in the sweet spot, focus on the music, and absorb the beauty.

The Electric Daisy Carnival, Kaskade, electronic music, the Coldplay song, raves, mosh pits are a collective flight into ecstasy, where people happily leave their normal senses behind and become engulfed in music. Ecstasy, after all, means “out of body”. It can and does get wild. That’s the essence of the Dionysian experience.

Apollonian involves stillness and thinking. Dionysian involves movement, dancing, individual and collective trance and ecstasy. The later sufi works of John Coltrane are a combination of both—works like A Love Supreme and Ascension seek closer union with the Divine. Ditto for works of the late qawwali (qawwali=sufi music from Pakistan) singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

I guess I enjoy both musical experiences, but my musical lifestyle tends to be more Apollonian than Dionysian. Which one defines your musical preference?

toms

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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