It is impossible to experience all that we as a collective society, and world, have experienced over the past year and a half and expect to move forward into the future unchanged. So much has shifted, and so much has been put into perspective. We can feel the transformations that have occurred across our personal lives and our professional lives. So many of us live in “new normals” – realities we would have never before thought possible or in our futures. But here we are. In reflecting over the past year, we find that it begs the question: of these changes, what will we carry forward? Of these changes, what are we excited to carry forward?
In examining this question, we sought input from two of our beloved Executive Board members, Martha Johnson and Malaika Marable Serrano.
In sharing her thoughts with us, Martha focused on the transformative impacts of the Higher Education industry. She writes:
“In his play Angels in America, the playwright Tony Kushner states, ‘In this world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind and dreaming ahead.’ I think that describes where we are in higher education right now. We were pushed into virtual modalities for the wrong reasons, yet there will be no going back, and the way we deliver education will be transformed. As we return to campus life, we will hopefully look for the best ways to integrate what we have learned into how we move forward. As campus leaders focus on returning to ‘normal,’ I hope they can reflect on the positive dimensions of the ‘painful progress’ and transformation forced upon us.”
Malaika had a very personal perspective to share with us about the transformative impacts she and her peers are currently experiencing:
“This is a deeply personal issue because it is happening for me in real-time currently. One of the largest transformative effects I am seeing is on the people themselves. I am currently segueing out of international education and into another industry- education technology. I have seen a number of my peers and people I know transitioning out of the field and into related fields or even other industries completely outside of education. I believe that the effects of the pandemic have made folks reflect deeply on who they are, what their priorities are, their families, and not being afraid to take a leap of faith and make decisions around their careers that pre-COVID might not have been considered. It may be too soon to tell, but I wonder how the pandemic will have a lasting effect on the new cohorts coming into international education? What about the institutional experience and memories of the folks who have left the field? Can organizations be a bridge or a continuation for folks who are moving, flowing in and out of international education? I think the answer is yes. One wonderful transformative effect from COVID I have seen is that with technology, and folks embracing it, it is easier than ever to stay connected, and connectivity is amplified.”
What transformative changes stemming from the pandemic will you carry forward with you? Do you believe these changes to be positive or negative? One thing we believe is that these changes are what you make of them. We can use them as forces for positive movement forward or use them as forces for negativity and bitterness towards this experience. The choice is yours.
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.