Colleagues Spread the Power of Study Abroad at NAFSA's Advocacy Day 2023

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Here at IES Abroad, we believe that study abroad is a catalyst for change, and do all that we can to do good in the world through our Global Good Commitment, as well as how we can sustain the field. One of those ways is through advocacy and promoting the value of study abroad.

This year, IES Abroad colleagues Nicole Granacki, Assistant Director, Customized & Faculty-Led Programs; Sherene Awong, Customized Program Manager; and Laurel Brooks, Special Assistant to the Provost, participated in NAFSA’s Advocacy Day on March 8th, speaking with Senator Dick Durban’s Office and Senator Tammy Duckworth’s Office.

According to NAFSA: “The effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic continue to impact student mobility and the field of international education in significant ways and with a new session of Congress forming in January, now is an important time to be a voice for supporting and sustaining the field!”

Sherene Awong was awarded the IEI Stephanie Brown Advocacy Grant to participate in NAFSA’s Advocacy Day. Sherene, Laurel, and Nicole joined international educators from across Illinois in meeting with Senator Dick Durban’s Office and Senator Tammy Duckworth’s Office.

“I decided to participate in Advocacy Day because I know that more than ever, students need financial support and resources to access study abroad opportunities. By working with lawmakers, I also wanted to highlight the importance in giving access to students from marginalized communities including students of color and students with disabilities. As an educator and a registered voter, it is important that we connect with our legislators that directly impact the work that we do.”  - Sherene Awong, Customized Program Manager 

The advocacy champions shared compelling and personal stories and asked the Senators for the following: create a path to green card for advanced degree students, extend dual intent for F1 students, co-sponsor the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Act, and support increasing congressional appropriations in FY2024 to help store international education and exchange programming impacted by the pandemic.

“I’m familiar with working with Capitol Hill but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to participate in an advocacy work, specifically surrounding international education. This experience reminded me of how impactful my own study abroad experience was to me and reminded me of why it’s necessary for those outside of our field to understand it’s importance as well, whether they are a major stakeholder or not. In our meetings with each Member’s staff, I noticed that they perked up the most at hearing our individual experiences; it’s clear than learning via direct storytelling is much more impactful than just rattling off data points and makes your ask that much stronger!” - Laurel Brooks, Special Assistant to the Provost, IES Abroad 

IES Abroad colleagues have participated in NAFSA’s Advocacy Days in years past, including Noelle Baldwin, Director of Diversity Recruiting & Advising, who advocated right on Capitol Hill, and proud that our colleagues are keeping up with this effort that could make a positive impact on the field and for future study abroad students.

Congrats to our colleagues for advocating for study abroad! We appreciate you and all that you do!

Learn more about our Global Good Commitment and all that IES Abroad is working towards in doing good in the world.

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