15 Sep 2017

EAIE Seville 2017: removing barriers through mobility

The conference in sunny Seville has come to a close, but the lessons learned and the connections forged are sure to last. Following a lovely performance by the EAIE Choir and words from the Closing Plenary sponsor, Universidad Loyola Andalucía, President Markus Laitinen took the stage to share with us how conference goers plan to go forth and answer the questions posed at the beginning of the week. One common element in the answers: Reach out, listen and share experiences.

 
 

Inclusive internationalisation and the effects it has

Just two days ago at the Opening Plenary, Oxford Professor Alexander Betts spoke of the importance of inclusive internationalisation – of building bridges with those who have fewer or simply different world experiences than yourself. That was Alexander’s suggestion on how to be the change. Today, the Closing Plenary keynote shared with us the positive effects of that change.

 Forging connections shapes who you are

Taiye Selasi, an author, photographer and self-described ‘multi-local’, detailed her shared experiences with people from a variety of backgrounds, based on her personal anecdotes about living in various places around the world. How we engage with people changes who we are. Immersing  ourselves in other cultures by participating in mobility or exchange can deeply enrich our lives and shape our outlooks. Dedicating our careers to ensuring students have the opportunity to do the same – that is the change.
 

We should identify with the things and people we love, rather than where we are from, explained Taiye. Placing emphasis on where you are from has the potential to lead to the belief that you are different from anyone from somewhere else. It is these differences that often lead to nationalist thoughts and apathy for others.

Assimilate the things you love into your identity

What better way to teach young people to open up to the world than to send them out to go see it?” Giving students international experiences has the potential to open minds and create a new generation of empathetic individuals –individuals who will drop the barriers they’ve created, question the logic of nationalism, and go forth with their own desire to be the change.
 

This is why our work as international educators is so important. Mobility, exchange programmes and internationalisation at home are essential because students meet new people and things worth loving and assimilate them into their identity. The conference may have ended, but hopefully you leave motivated to reach out and be the change – knowing that the work you do every day is inspiring the students with whom you connect to do the same.
 

Looking ahead

The Closing Plenary wrapped up with video highlights of the week and the official invitation to the 30th Annual Conference and Exhibition in Geneva. The invitation wouldn’t have been complete without a duo of Swiss alphorn players.
 

If you’re interested in leading a session, workshop or poster session in Geneva, stay tuned. The call for proposals will be on our online early October 2017. Exhibitor registration is now open. Be sure to check out the EAIE blog and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram