‘EAIE-ing’: a dedicated member’s personal journey

‘EAIE-ing’: a dedicated member’s personal journey

“Why do you volunteer for the EAIE on top of your day job?”, was the question that leadership guru, Blaire Palmer asked EAIE Board and Committee members at the start of her plenary talk at the 2013 EAIE Joint Leadership Meeting. The immediate reaction from her audience was, “because we feel strongly about what we are doing”. Louise Stansfield, winner of the 2013 EAIE President’s Award, knows the feeling. Read about why the years she’s spent working with the EAIE have been invaluable, in this award story. 

Behind the official face of the EAIE is a host of dedicated individuals raising their hands to offer their time and expertise to the organisation. Why? And why do they love the work they do?

It’s gratifying

Why do I do it? Well, that’s easy – because it is just so enjoyable. It’s an opportunity to work in truly international teams with fun, passionate colleagues from around the world, from varied institutions and whom you probably don’t work with in your regular job. It adds an element of diversity and variety to your work. You laugh, you share and you all contribute to a common goal. It’s your professional background and your dedication to international education that unites you.

It offers professional and personal benefits

From my employer’s viewpoint, being involved behind the scenes with the EAIE has carried with it some professional benefits:

  • Opportunities for informal benchmarking and gaining ideas.
  • Networking and strengthening relationships.
  • Establishing new partnerships.

Personally, a major benefit has been the friendships I have formed over the years. Additionally, the work I have done for the EAIE has undoubtedly been instrumental in my own professional development as a lecturer. Though the downside of being away from work at an EAIE event is usually returning to a huge pile of student assignments to mark, that is soon forgotten because I believe I’ve been doubly privileged in that all I’ve done for the EAIE has fed directly into my work.

Volunteer highlights

Everyone working in international education collects a personal bank of wonderful stories and anecdotes, but how many get to use these to punctuate a lecture or class? I hasten to mention that I never refer to anyone or their organisation by name of course! However, describing success stories, challenges and intercultural issues that can arise from working for an international organisation has often added colour and a real element to my lectures.

I had little experience speaking at conferences, let alone chairing sessions outside my own institution, when I first joined the EAIE and the Professional Section Economics and Business Studies (EBS) in the 1990s. As a teacher of presentation skills, this gave me the perfect opportunity to practise what I preach. Many EBS sessions, workshops and conference years down the road and I found myself opening EAIE Academies, welcoming participants to receptions and thanking local and university dignitaries. These, in addition to receiving the President’s Award at the 25th Annual EAIE Conference in Istanbul, certainly count among the personal highlights in my career.

Acting as an evaluator at the EAIE Academies and developing the Train the Trainer (TTT) programme are also amongst the many highlights of my term on the Professional Development Committee. Seeing the truly professional EAIE trainers in action always reinforced my belief in the quality of the courses that the EAIE offers. The time I spent in each training course gave me a valuable snapshot of the content and methods, leaving me hungry for more and always taught me something. I have adopted some of the lively methods and warmers I’ve seen in some of the EAIE training courses into my own teaching. Just this week, students in a workshop on the rather dry topic of Academic Writing were moving and standing in lines according to how they felt about their assignments and referencing sources – a technique I had seen Darla Deardorff use in a course on advising international students. Another highly successful method I’ve borrowed is Peer Consultation as once demonstrated during the TTT programme by Fiona Hunter.

What’s my next step? Upon receiving my EAIE Award at the President’s reception in Istanbul, EAIE President Hans-Georg van Liempd joked that I should become an EAIE trainer. I laughed off his suggestion, but as it happens, I will be a co-trainer for the Creating Effective Promotional Materials in English course at the EAIE Autumn Academy in Tallinn. I am sure I will love every moment of it.

It just goes to show that once you get involved, it’s difficult to stay away! Here’s to lifelong ‘EAIE-ing’!

Author: Louise Stansfield, Senior Lecturer in Business Communication, Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences