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Views on International Engagement

AIEA leadership responds to the World View blog, "Is U.S. International Education Building a Wall?"

November 18, 2019
 
 

In his blog from Oct. 26 (“Is U.S. International Education Building a Wall?”), Hans de Wit unfortunately misrepresented the Association for International Education Administrators’ (AIEA) involvement with Latin America. He suggested that AIEA is not interested in the region because we did not participate in the Conference of the Americas on International Education (CAIE) conference in Colombia, when in fact our executive director and several members were there. AIEA leadership shares Dr. de Wit’s concerns that U.S. institutions remain invested in Latin America, and we believe that such commitment should be measured beyond activity at a single conference.

AIEA has adopted a new strategic plan that emphasizes a more global focus that will prepare members to lead the kinds of innovative, transformational, comprehensive internationalization needed for the 21st century. Critical to this is our engagement with our international colleagues. Over the last year, AIEA's leadership has actively participated in conferences with colleagues in China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Kingdom, among other countries. We have for the first time two Latin American colleagues on the AIEA Leadership Ballot and will be hosting a Thematic Forum on building partnerships with Brazilian institutions in April in São Paulo, Brazil.

AIEA adopted its strategic plan precisely to respond to the types of concerns that Dr. de Wit raised in his blog. We are committed to reciprocal partnerships that engage our member institutions in meaningful ways with colleges and universities throughout the world, especially Latin America. We believe that associations such as AIEA have particular obligation to support members with connecting globally.

For more information about AIEA and our strategic plan, please visit www.aieaworld.org.

Sincerely,

Dr. Cheryl Matherly
President, AIEA
Vice president/vice provost, international affairs, Lehigh University

Dr. Adel El-Zaim
President-elect, AIEA
Chief internationalization officer, University of Ottawa

Dr. Penelope Pynes
Immediate past president, AIEA
Associate provost for international programs, University of North Carolina Greensboro

 

 

Response from Hans de Wit:

The response of the leadership of AIEA -- of which I am an active member -- to my “World View” blog of Oct. 26 states that I misrepresented the organization's involvement with Latin America. They assert that I claimed that AIEA was absent while I deliberately wrote “not actively involved.” I recognize that the executive director attended the conference on the afternoon of the second day and the morning of the third day, as I met her then. But I also know from her comments that she divided her time between the conference and a separate event competing with the CAIE. That reality combined with the fact that AIEA and NAFSA were not actively involved as partners of this conference was the point of my post. I would not have published this commentary had not several Latin American participants expressed their concern about the absence of U.S.-based international educators and the limited involvement of U.S. organizations. Sadly, this can be too easily interpreted as more evidence of growing U.S. isolationism and the limited importance of Latin America to the internationalization dialogue.

As an active member of the AIEA task force that developed the strategic plan emphasizing a broader global focus, I questioned why the organization was not actively involved in the CAIE meeting. I was with Darla Deardorff and Cheryl Matherly last week at the International Association of Universities (IAU) conference in Puebla, Mexico, where we again noticed the poor representation of U.S. higher education. The message, shared by AIEA's leadership, is that global engagement requires balanced and equal relationships, something we can achieve only by being actively involved in these forums, regardless of where they take place. That is what counts.

Hans de Wit
Director, Center for International Higher Education
Boston College

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