President's Corner: Finding Words to Live By

President’s Corner:  Finding Words to Live By

by Aaron Andersen, International ACAC President
June, 2019

As we close out another academic year in much of the world, and many of us are preparing for a restful break - - and the start of our annual conference - - this is always a good time to reflect upon the past year of our Association.

Immediately I’m drawn to recall the list of highlights shared by our executive board members, in our final bi-monthly meeting last week.  To me, a fan of ‘All Things Listed’, I mentally drew up a 2018-19 Top Five for International ACAC list in my mind:

1) Regional Institutes in India and Eastern Europe – hosting successful PD events in two vibrant and engaging countries.  India and Bulgaria both represent critical important sectors of international education.

2) Webinar Wednesday Series – highlighted by the recent Town Hall session, offering exceptional LIVE member engagement throughout the year.

3) Diversity Initiative – After several years of concerns voiced expanding equity and inclusion, and exploring issues of diversity, our association is providing funding for the Diversity Training to all members, with a focus on required training for the leaders in our organization – those involved in Board or Committee work.

4) Opportunity Grant – First of its kind among affiliates of NACAC, International ACAC launched a $30K annual program offering funding to member projects and ideas, alongside a membership fee waiver program to bring in new under-resourced professionals, and our most deserving members.

5) An efficient and responsive Executive Board and Headquarters – From my perspective, working with this group of dedicated individuals has been a highlight of my professional career;  each devoted to their work, each advocating for members, and building programs to support our growth

And while I’m mindful of the importance of reflecting on the past year’s successes, I’m also aware that we are operating in a time of confusion and frustration in much of the industry of international education.  Education not so long ago existed outside of the tremors of geopolitical turmoil; today however, there is no avoiding that everything is connected in this current landscape.  Pressures on student visas and additional immigration regulations, security and tests, and increased transnational competition, are the issues impacting us seemingly daily and all are influenced by factors far beyond education.  For our Association, we cannot let these interpretations of these issues divide us.  All too often I hear responses to topics that are reactionary and coming from a place of anger and confusion.  Thankfully, if you are reading this, we are in a position where we can choose how to approach these changing times. 

And so, as I close out this academic year, and my term as current president, I choose to look to the future inspired by the same words I started this year with … a message that is simple but can be a guiding light for our times: “Be excellent to each other.”  While some may be familiar with these words as a quote from an epic story from the tail end of the last century, I think it holds true now.  Our globally connected members must continue to question and critique, while also working hard to assume the best intentions from one another. Approach every situation with curiosity, and when someone else is reacting, act to receive them with kindness. If we take these thoughts into our interactions with one another, and others in our lives, we can create a ripple effect of positivity.


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