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  • 31 Jan 2023 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Can you smell it? Can you feel it? It is in the air and palpable here at the Global Leadership League… it smells and feels like new opportunities. With 2022 fading in the review mirror and the possibilities of this year ahead, we can’t help but ponder the professional engagement, events and meeting new and former colleagues we are sure to experience in 2023.

    What are you looking forward to this year? What’s on your professional and personal development list, and how can you support colleagues and friends? What events, conferences and travels are already on your calendar that energizes you?

    Part of what makes the start of a new year inspiring is the potential for new experiences. Here at the League, we have many exciting things in the works, and we can’t wait to share them with you all. AND! Part of what will make the coming year so powerful is your capability to say YES to new adventures and challenges. The coming year’s potential is just half of the equation- the other half depends on your ability to seize the opportunity and say yes.

    So, what do you want to say yes to? A creative professional development course you’ve wanted to take? Making a commitment to connect with a colleague to exchange new ideas? That trip you’ve been planning for years now? These options and opportunities are really just ways of saying yes to yourself. Yes to your future, and yes to the potential of the coming year.

    As you seek new networks, learning, and adventures to say yes to in 2023, we invite you to learn more about the programs we offer as well as our upcoming events. Maybe saying yes to a membership with the Global Leadership League is the push you need for a fantastic and fulfilling 2023.

    Whatever adventures or challenges present themselves, we wish you a wonderful year full of yeses!

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 30 Dec 2022 3:30 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Members:

    Why did the educator sprinkle sugar on their pillow on New Year's Eve?..... 

    ……. They wanted to start the year with sweet dreams.

    Laughter and joy are excellent ways to manage tough times, and laughter is scientifically proven to reduce stress. With our often-chaotic work and personal lives, we could all use a bit more of that tonic! And let's add some sweet dreams too.

    The Global Leadership League is also here to help you manage your complex lives. Five years ago, we started this organization as a way for us to become more connected in our profession, and we remain committed to giving you, our members, meaningful learning opportunities as you advance your careers. Yes, the global pandemic set our plans back a bit, but we are reviving ourselves along with others in the field. We owe our thanks to the amazing group of volunteers who not only founded The League but who help to run the programs for you.

    The League has over 1000 members and a host of vibrant supporting organizations. Not unique to the League, our members live all over the world. In fact, we have members from 34 countries and counting. For that reason, we are innovative in the online space with opportunities to listen live or re-visit the recording. Our popular mentor circles allow for varying schedules. We continue to look for ways to meet these diverse needs.

    As we crest 2023, we have a few things on our mind that we hope will motivate you to invite others to join and help grow this important initiative:

    Are we focused on women? Yes, but NOT JUST. We are an organization committed to all global educators regardless of gender, and we hope to increase our range of members – at any level or stage of career.

    Are we going to do in-person events? Yes, and SOON. As the global pandemic shifts, we are revisiting our plans for in-person workshops, retreats, and add-on networking opportunities for your major conferences.

    Are we able to serve large and small organizations with personalized training? Yes, and NOW. Your organization can sign up as an Advocate or Supporter and easily get a membership for 10 + unlimited staff. This could mean less than $15/per person for access. Tell your leaders, colleagues and friends today about The League.

    What do we need the most? We need YOU. Yes, your attendance at our programs will keep the conversation alive, but we also need your volunteer time to help us grow. Contact us at today to find out how to get involved.

    Finally, where do we want to be in 2023? TOGETHER. Come to our New Year Hoopla next week and share some laughs, meet a new person, and consider where you want to be in 2023. We look forward to doing more for you and with you this new year.

    All our best,

    Cynthia Banks, Sarah E. Spencer, and the entire Global Leadership League leadership team

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 30 Nov 2022 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    Has anyone been immune to the impacts of COVID on both personal and professional lives? The Global Education sector and many others have been significantly affected by countless aspects of the pandemic and its far-reaching influence. However, for many people, these shifts have led to “happy habits.”

    What new positive routine or happy habit have you formed over these past pandemic years? Maybe you’re better now at maintaining a positive work-life balance, staying engaged with friends and colleagues, listening to podcasts to hone your management skills, or committing to a daily walk. Whatever your new happy habit is, congratulations! The question now is, how can you maintain these positive changes moving forward into 2023? Developing a consistent routine can take time, commitment, and intention. 

    Here are four tips we wanted to share in the spirit of moving into the new year as the best global educators we can be: 

    1. Find an accountability buddy. Is there a colleague at work who can help keep you on track for leaving at a reasonable hour, so you’re home in time for dinner with the family every night? Or a friend who will meet you every week for Zoom Yoga or for a lap around the lake? Having someone else help hold you accountable can make all the difference in making your routine into a lasting habit. 
    2. Set yourself up for success. Whatever positive new habit you want to carry forward, make it as easy as possible for yourself to accomplish that task. Layout or pre-pack your gym bag the night before, set out your journal in an easily visible spot for you to access it, or factor in extra time for yourself so you do not feel the need to skip your new routine in an endeavor to save time. 
    3. Write it, draw it, or record it. Creating visual or audio support for your new happy habit can help keep you focused and motivated. Whether this looks like writing your goals down, tracking how many days you’ve kept it going, or leaving supportive messages to future you taped to your bathroom mirror – this tactical approach can help.
    4. Don’t beat yourself up over a slip-up. Sometimes, life gets the best of us, and our days don’t go as planned. That’s okay! Don’t let a little slip-up get you down or derail you from sticking it out and moving forward. As we said earlier, new routines and habits take time, commitment, and intention.

    Whatever new happy habit you have formed, keep going! Keep your focus on why you made this shift in the first place and what benefits it brings to your life. Think, why are you better off now with this new habit than you were before without it? And, if you can’t think of a new happy habit you’ve formed over the past few years, it’s never too late to start one. Cheers to being our best selves in the coming year!

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 31 Oct 2022 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    • We LOVE global education! And, while global education is important every week of the year, we take special note of the importance of our field for International Education Week, which is November 14th through the 18th  this month. Our field is one driven by passion, understanding, awareness, and collaboration, and International Education Week is a time to celebrate all those qualities.

      To kick off the celebration of IEW week, we thought we would share some bite-sized stats about the good work being done in our field. Here are some quick stats around international education and studying abroad:

    • “During the 2019-2020 school year, approximately 1,075,496 foreign-born students were enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, representing 4.6% of the total U.S. student population.” (Source)
    • “In the 2018-2019 school year, international students contributed a combined 39 billion to the economy and supported more than 400,000 jobs across the U.S.” (Source)
    • "1.46 million students from abroad were undertaking tertiary level studies across the EU in 2020.” (Source)
    • “In 2020, students from abroad who were studying in Germany accounted for 25% of the EU total; the next largest shares were 17% in France and 9% in the Netherlands.” (Source)
    • “In 2020, over 5.6 million students chose to reap the huge benefits of studying abroad. However, this figure is expected to hit nearly 8 million by 2025 if the current rate of growth continues.” (Source)
    • “Australia has the highest percentage of international students relative to its overall student body.” (Source)

    The impact of COVID on our field was a devastating one. Between borders closing, universities halting activity, and the general air of uncertainty, the international education field took a destructive hit. However, numbers are looking encouraging, and we can just feel that the whole sector is posed for a strong comeback. What do you expect to see in the next year or so for global educators and study abroad programs? Do any of the shared statistics surprise you? Let us know!


    1. (2022, September 14). International Students & Graduates in the U.S. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from

    2. Learning Mobility Statistics. EuroStat Statistics Explained. (2022, June). Retrieved November 7, 2022, from

    3. Studee Ltd. (2022). 10 most popular countries for international students. Most Popular Countries For International Students - Best Countries to Study Abroad. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from

    4. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2022). Students - International Student Mobility - OECD data. theOECD. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 30 Sep 2022 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    If you are one of our members or even just a consistent reader/supporter of the League, you will be familiar with one of our newer programs, In the Vault. Our In the Vault program offers individuals “a safe place to ask candid questions.” These questions range from sticky workplace situations, uncomfortable dilemmas, and difficult conversations to advice on career progression and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. When facing tough decisions, an outside opinion can make all the difference in revealing new truths to ourselves. 

    Our goal in creating In the Vault with Sophia Confidential was to provide a safe space for professionals (of all levels) to ask those candid questions we might otherwise hesitate to share. Additionally, we hope we have created a place for honest and beneficial answers by creating a place for honest and transparent questions. Because, as evident by this newer program, we believe seeking advice is a healthy step in working through difficult or uncomfortable situations. And we all know as working professionals, and even more explicitly working professionals in the international education field, complex or uncomfortable problems can arise. Honestly, this is almost unavoidable in any professional capacity. 

    The beauty of seeking outside counsel for a problematic situation is that new perspectives and ideas can help force us out of the same mental ruts we tend to fall back into repeatedly. Self-doubt, negative self-talk, and habits that no longer serve us can run rampant if not checked. Asking for advice and actively seeking the opinion of someone outside the situation can help us break out of these tricky traps, help us feel less isolated in dealing with the problem, and can help foster progress. Progress that might be desperately needed. 

    We hope the next time you find yourself in a challenging situation and are unsure of what to do, you practice the step of seeking outside advice. Maybe even more specifically, seeking the outside advice of our dear Sophia Confidential… we know she can’t wait to help advise on whatever dilemma you might throw at her! To read some of her past responses, visit here. To go ahead and submit your candid question in pursuit of a candid answer, visit here

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 30 Aug 2022 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    Have you ever been faced with a tough decision? Like, a decision where you honestly did not know what to choose? How did you end up reaching a conclusion? What helped push you one way over the other? Life is full of these decisions and what we could call 'forks in the road.' But, the beautiful thing is, the paths we end up choosing are what help shape and define our different stories.

    Sometimes, when we are faced with tough decisions, making a choice can feel paralyzing and overwhelming, and it can be hard to think clearly about what you should do. Lately, or maybe more specifically over the last two years during the pandemic, most individuals in the global education sector have had to make difficult decisions. These decisions have varied from "should I continue to travel," "should I board that plane," "should I visit that country," or maybe even "should I consider switching my career path." These are all big questions that could be difficult to answer. So, when you are in a tough spot, how do you come to a conclusion?

    The next time you struggle with a decision, there are a few concepts that can help you make a choice. A few of these ideas include:

    • Going with your gut – when you silence your mind, what is your gut reaction? Don't think, just say… what is it?
    • Head vs. heart – Is this a head decision or a heart decision? Which one is the part torn about the decision? Is your heart struggling or your head?
    • Who else will be impacted by this decision? Are you the only one who must deal with the outcome of this decision?
    • What advice would you give to someone else in your same position?
    • What is the worst-case scenario? What is the best-case scenario?

    These are just a few outside perspectives to consider when facing a difficult decision. For further reading on the process of making a difficult decision, we recommend this article by Psyche or this article by Centerstone.

    The international education industry inherently lends itself to tough decisions. Daily we have to consider numerous factors outside of our immediate surroundings and possibly even outside of our culture. So, when you are faced with a decision where you truly just don't know what to do, how do you approach it?

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 29 Jul 2022 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    Well, we are officially over halfway through 2022… WOW! As we cruise into the second half of the year, now is a good time to ask yourself how you are going to make what remains of 2022 just as meaningful as the first half. Specifically, we want to know, when was the last time you made a concerted effort, or put yourself out there, in the name of your own professional development? It can be hard! And maybe even a little scary. But if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will? Deciding to advance your professional skills is step one. Step two… is how?

    The Global Leadership League has you covered! The League offers numerous opportunities to connect with other professional peers, join in on industry relevant discussions, and have leaders from the global education field help guide you and offer their feedback. We want to spotlight a few of the different programs The League offers which could help you take your career to the next level and finish out the remainder of the year with some oomph:

    Career Connections: Whether you're working on a presentation, looking for someone to brainstorm with outside of your organization, or just simply looking for some perspective, Career Connections is the place for you.

    Career Connections is a members-only benefit that pairs experienced League members (Guides) with other members (Explorers) who want to learn from their expertise regarding a professional challenge, while both parties forge a meaningful professional relationship and expand their network. We aim to connect members who are active in a variety of fields including but not limited to:

    · Education Abroad

    · International Students & Scholars

    · International Enrollment Management

    · Campus Programming

    · and more!

    Coffee Connect: Join us monthly for a chance to learn more about the League! Grab a drink and join the Partnerships team to get a taste of what the League has to offer; this opportunity is open to all interested non-members and members.

    There are 3 versions of this meeting:

    1. In 'Learn about the League' we'll spend some time giving an overview of the League’s programs, provide a fun and topical ‘taster’ and enjoy the company of new colleagues. Plus, you will have time for Q&A.

    2. In 'Mentor Highlight' we'll focus on our ever-popular Mentor Circles and Career Connections program; creating space to connect and provide brief information about joining the League to non-members.

    3. In 'Senior Leader' we'll create time, space and support for Senior Leaders to connect with each other to discuss the most pressing topics facing the field, our organizations and teams.

    We’ll meet online for 30 minutes the second Tuesday of the month at 1pm EST (USA).

    The League Lasso: The League Lasso is a trusted space for members to inspire, create, and share their stories and writings with others. Members are invited to create a piece of writing. The genre is open to all forms of the writing enterprise. The writing piece can be of professional nature or a personal outlet. Submit your work prior and then discuss online as a group. We support each other! Here are few examples (as a source of inspiration, not limitation!):

    · poem

    · cover letter

    · purpose statement for graduate school

    · proposal for funding a new program

    · letter to your congressional representative for advocacy

    · short story

    · letter to your high school senior before they leave for college

    Mentor Circles: One of the cornerstones of a successful business model is collaboration. Whether around the table with colleagues from your own company or in a board room with professionals from around the field, there is value in bringing different perspectives to the table. The League understands the value of this process and recognizes that facilitating these conversations can take time and effort, so we’ve created Mentor Circles.

    Take the opportunity to learn and grow with other professionals in international education on topics such as Blazing Your Career Trail and Designing a Well-Lived Life. Sessions commence three or four times a year, and groups are made up of 3-5 individuals per session. This is a members only benefit.

    The Chat Box: Are you seeking colleagues who can relate to our new professional and personal realities? Has your employment situation unexpectedly changed? Are you eager to connect with new networks in the absence of conferences, work travel and your office?

    Dial into The Chat Box! Join us for 60-minute discussion groups on Zoom that tackle ‘real-time, real-issue’ learning, empathizing and problem-solving with other League members, including:

    · Leading and Managing in This New World

    · The Virtual Professional

    · My Career: Now & Future

    · Taking Care of You

    · What’s Next for Global Education

    Chat Box programs are hosted and scheduled across three regions – Pacific Rim, Europe and the Americas – maximizing time zones and cross-cultural contexts.

    Audio recordings, Top Takeaways and relevant League resources are available for Members after login.

    The League is proud to offer these different opportunities to our members and we love being a part of the plan for people who are leveling up their professional development. Don’t wait, join The League now and make the most of the remainder of 2022 while you still can! Learn more about joining.

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 30 Jun 2022 8:30 AM | Anonymous

    We are starting to see a resurgence of conferences and expos for our industry again, and that means many of us are shaking the dust off of our blazers and breaking out our suitcases from the closet. Several of our League board members recently attended the NAFSA 2022 Conference and Expo in Denver, CO, and had a wonderful time. So, with COVID restrictions easing and several of us back at the networking endeavors, we thought now was a good time to share some tips for keeping our networking skills fresh and getting back into promoting ourselves and our organizations after a long hiatus.

    1. Practice your intro/elevator pitch. Because it might have been a moment since the last time you had to run through your own introduction and organizational run-down, take a few moments to make sure you not only remember the highlights to hit but whatever updates or adjustments you might need to now include in our post-covid world.

    2. Tap into your already established network and reach out to past contacts. You will likely be running into colleagues and friends at some of the upcoming conferences. Now could be an excellent time to follow up with them and see how they are doing and ask how they are adapting after a travel hiatus. Keeping your past contacts fresh can be just as important as the new ones you will be making while networking.

    3. Meditation, affirmations, or journaling – whatever you do to find your power. With new networking opportunities come new possibilities of being in a room full of people you don’t know. And that can be nerve-wracking for anyone. Take some time to steel those nerves, find your center of self, and step into your power so that you may show up as the best you – however that may look.

    4. Stock those business cards and prep your supporting branding items. Maybe you need to order more business cards or look for that tabletop sign you will need for a booth at a conference. Whatever it is, ensure that your supporting items are ready to go.

    5. Self-care. We cannot stress this one enough! Do what you need to do to have yourself feeling and looking your best. Maybe that is a new haircut, an in-depth skincare routine, a new shirt, or a long workout right before heading to the networking event. Self-care looks different to everyone, so do what you need to do so that you may feel like you are showing up with your best foot forward.

    These are just some of our ideas on how we can all shake off that COVID dust and get back into the swing of things. So, what do you do to prepare yourself for a new networking opportunity? Share with us on our social! Or, better yet, become a member of The League and participate in some of our upcoming events and networking opportunities.

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 30 May 2022 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    Two years is a long time to work with your colleagues virtually, some of whom are truly like family, especially after experiencing hardship and challenge after challenge together. On the days you’ve been pushed to a limit you didn’t know you had, you want to hug them and only them. Two years is a long time to see your friends less often and your family less often. Two years is a long time for many of us to learn how to cope with (and question) the impacts of a global pandemic, loss, social injustice, the “new normal,” and change within ourselves, our families, jobs, and communities.

    In November of 2019, I traveled to Australia for work, and I spent time with many colleagues that I had either never met in person or hadn’t seen in many years. We strategized and planned, and it was energizing; I couldn’t wait for what was next – seeing through our vision and plans for our study abroad students in 2020 in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.

    Needless to say, 2020 didn’t go as planned, and a lot happened in the past two years. I won’t go into details (maybe in another blog), but I finally went to my first in-person event in Denver, Colorado, in March of 2022. Just one day after International Women’s Day, I attended Women Powering Change – an event that brings together leaders, activists, volunteers, community members, and philanthropists to showcase what women are doing to catalyze social change locally and globally to create a better world in more than 100 Colorado-based organizations.

    So, I’ll admit it, maybe I was a bit giddy as I felt like a bear rising from a long covid winter (or two). This event was warm, inviting, inclusive, and accepting - and it smelled of fresh burritos available for dinner on a cold, snowy Colorado evening. What more could you ask for? I’ll tell you - to be in a community with others that are making a positive impact and care deeply about supporting the advancement of women. Capital Sisters International provides microloans for women in poverty, Dance to Free is a non-profit changing the lives of incarcerated women by addressing lifelong trauma through the healing power of dance, and Agile International works to secure land, water, and energy availability for rural women farmers in Western Africa.

    While I wish I could have hugged my former colleagues through the numerous challenges we experienced in 2020 and 2021, two of the people I used to work with many years ago were in attendance at this same event and we were all there representing different organizations. We had no idea we would all be there, and we certainly didn’t know that we would be randomly placed right next to each other. But, it made the night even sweeter and reminded me that connections can turn into friendships that last forever.

    Here’s to 2022 and beyond. May we continue to connect with one another, inspire, and empower – creating positive change. No matter how big or small, remember it is still change. Thank you to my friends with GALS and The Sacred Valley Project, once colleagues and now friends - I am so fortunate to have them forever. 

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

  • 28 Apr 2022 3:30 PM | Anonymous
    Kris Holloway is a woman of many talents. Besides operating as the Global Leadership League’s Director of Programs, Kris “serves as the President of CIS Abroad, a leading education abroad organization whose vision is to create a more compassionate and connected world, one student at a time.” One of the many applications of Kris’ talents was her work in helping to document and compile the story of Irene Butter, a survivor of the Holocaust and a concentration camp, and the League’s presenter for our recent International Women’s Day 2022 event.

    Irene Butter spent a part of her childhood in Nazi-controlled concentration camps, where she survived horrible conditions and tragedies. She tells her story on behalf of the six million other Jews who have been permanently silenced. Irene's account celebrates the exercising of empathy for others in even the most inhumane conditions, a relevant message in an age where similar hatreds and discrimination rise once again.

    As a longtime friend and confidante of Irene’s, Kris knew that Irene’s story had to be documented and shared in a respectful manner. We recently sat down with Kris to learn more about how she went about the process of sharing another woman’s powerful story and what she feels she learned from the experience.

    How does someone best go about writing a book for someone else and maintaining that respect and authenticity for their story?

    I had experience because my first book I wrote about a West African midwife that I lived and worked with in the Peace Corps and how she died in childbirth. Because she died, I wrote her story and I knew that I had to tell the story of this midwife, and how she lived, in order for people here in the U.S. to care about her death. And so, prior to writing with Irene, I had experience with the responsibility I had writing as a white woman about a black West African woman. I thought a lot about this from a narrative ethnographic sense and also from a personal sense.

    Irene asked me and my husband John to write her story. She had years of experience talking to middle school and high school students as she told of her journey through the Holocaust. And even though it was hard to talk about these memories of loss, her belief in the power of young people to change the world kept her energized. And, her one ask of us as writers was that we maintained the voice of the child in the narrative. She wanted to portray a hopeful message of “If I can do this, you can too. If I can be a survivor, you can too.” That was the guiding lens of how we wrote the book – staying true to her young voice.

    What that looked like, in reality, is that the writing process was iterative. I developed character sketches so that each character in Irene’s story looked and behaved consistently to who they were. I had to know when Irene looks stressed, what does she do? When Irene talks, how does she sound? And, the book was written in English, even though Irene spoke German in her childhood, and then when her family went to Amsterdam she spoke solely in Dutch there, and then through the camps she continued speaking in Dutch, and then when she went to the refugee camp after the war, she spoke Dutch and learned English and French. So, I had to focus on how to stay true to her voice despite the change in language. To be trusted to tell a Holocaust survivor’s story felt really big. I felt the responsibility for grounding it in truth and fact.

    Irene was amazingly brave as the writing opened up memories she had not known she had. My husband and I divvied up scenes to write based on our knowledge and interests. I would write a scene with our character sketches, and I would send it to Irene and then we would meet on Skype, and she would be like “Nope, nope, nope. That’s wrong.” She wouldn’t know what I got wrong until I wrote it wrong and then it would open up her memory to say, “Oh, now I remember. It wasn’t the smell of daffodils, it was crocuses…” or whatever the detailmight be. So, every time we wrote it would open up something else like this, and we would go back and forth in conversation. Then we would read it out loud so that Irene could feel that it was coming from within her. The bravery she had to be willing to see things that would have been easy to not see was incredible.

    How do you balance deep diving into this heavy topic and maintaining your daily life with children, work, significant others, etc?

    First, I scheduled the time as if it was a second job. I had goals and deadlines. So much of writing just showing up and doing the work. Over and over. It is not anything magical.

    Second, and this is where there is a bit of magic, was around creating ritual to ground myself in the ‘Why.’ You can have discipline but be uninspired. So, to keep that inspiration, I would look at pictures of her family as they went through the Holocaust. I would listen to Enya, which is super cheesy but I just love Enya, so I would listen to her, light a candle, and look at photos of Irene’s family. I would ground myself in the reasons why I am going to spend two hours on a gorgeous 70 degree afternoon inside doing this work instead of outside with friends or family. So that created this space that is sort of sacred, kind of time-out-of -ime, so that I could maintain my energy for the work.

    I think as international educators we are used to being committed to our work, and having to harness energy for it even during hard times. Hmmm… maybe like a pandemic that halts student mobility for two years! So, it was kind of just building on that same kind of energy that is resplendent in our field in many ways. This story is one of showcasing how we have got to work across all our perceived differences so that we can actually co-create a better world.

    How can we incorporate Irene's message into our daily lives?

    I think two things. One is to assume best intentions. unless we have a reason not to. Because there is so much that is hurtful, and we are all edgy coming out of the pandemic. Before we jump to escalate, and punish, and demonize, can we step in with some kindness? Can we assume best intentions before reacting to everything that we disagree with? Can we just have a little gentleness? Irene has taught me to just take a breath, don’t react, and just notice and listen. Then when I’m a little more grounded, be curious. And that has been so helpful for me.

    Two, is the opposite. If we know there are bad intentions, like if we see bullying happen, we must simply show up. Sometimes there is a natural “look the other way” kind of response. Like it is someone else’s problem. The pandemic has been hard on humans, on families, on communities. If we see someone experiencing suffering, let’s stand with them. And this has kindness in it, but it is also a braver than just that. It involves risk. How can we expand the definition of who our brothers and sisters are and how can we intervene in order to prevent suffering? I think for your average person, if we can just make these small choices that take a little time and small dose of bravery, it makes a difference.

    What was the hardest part for you about translating or helping to relay this story?

    Probably the editing process. There were certain parts of her story that I found really interesting to learn about and write about, that through the editing process it was clear that the narrative was stronger without them. I think that was probably the hardest part – letting go of some of the writing and different scenes that I just loved.

    And also, it just took a while, so took some patience with the process as I just wanted to get it out in the world. We so wanted her to be part of the book’s launch before she got too old. She’s 91! It was hard feeling that time crunch.

    The blessing of it all was the closeness- Irene feels like my older sister. She feels like family and really, who gets that? Who gets to have a 91-year-old older sister when you are my age? It has been such a source of joy, even in the suffering of the story. That has been the biggest, most unexpected outcome of doing this project together. Then we had a reason to meet, and now we are not writing anymore but we keep meeting anyway. I go to Ann Arbor frequently, and Irene has just finished a podcast in German, she just appeared on Dutch news show, and has a CNN special- she is just going gang-busters. And, the book has been translated in Dutch, Portuguese, Czech, and will be out in German this summer. Sometimes I am involved in some of that and sometimes I just hear about it through her agent, and it is just fabulous and so much fun. I love riding her coattails. How fabulous and long the coattails are of this 5 ft 1 in woman.

    What, if anything, did this project help show to you or reveal to you about working in international education?

    How do we weave story into what we do? Whether that is literally using the book and her journey as an itinerary for faculty led program, or how we help our students make sense of their own experiences in another culture.

    It made me realize the importance of expanding our definition of family and community across boundaries, meaning you’re responsible for me and I am responsible for you in some shared capacity, because if we can expand that, then it is much harder to invade, attack, or ignore the suffering of others. It made me appreciate my citizenship and think about what it means to have the privilege of having a country to call home, and to help those who don’t have this power or protection. It seems so similar to the reasons that we are in the international ed field to begin with, because otherwise, why would we be here?

    The last thoughts I want to share are to give kudos to the individuals in the Global Leadership League- all the volunteers and participants who are keeping a safe space alive for people to come together in this field and continue to grow. Because that is how it is going to grow back and grow back better.

    If you are interested in learning more about Irene Butter, her story, and the published book ‘Shores Beyond Shores: From Holocaust to Hope, My True Story’ join The League on 12 May, 2022, at 11:00 AM (EDT) for a virtual book discussion. Learn more here. As well, learn more about Kris’ organization, CISAbroad, here.

    The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

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Our members come from different backgrounds, abilities, levels of experience, and parts of the world. Our goal is to embrace this diversity and encourage relationships across generations and experience levels for the benefit of all involved. 

The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purposes of advancing women’s leadership skills, knowledge, and connections.


Our Mission

The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders.  Become a Member