Creating an inclusive workplace and diversifying the field of international education has been an ongoing challenge and conversation. The topics of strengthening diversity efforts are also present throughout the international education annual conferences. Dialogues across networks are constantly taking place, and spaces to discuss potential strategies, tools, and best practices in the field are proactive.
As a Latina professional in the field of International Education, it’s important and meaningful for me to network with other professionals locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Not only am I interested in sharing knowledge and best practices, but it’s also imperative for me to build a sense of community with other colleagues of Latin American ancestry. That connection or experience that I seek in the professional platform is no different from when I was a student navigating college. As a young adult, I sought opportunities for community engagement and identity expression. Effectively, many of us received that guidance from a student affairs multicultural or student college success office. This notion is relatable and translates to the professional setting. As professionals, we want to feel supported and encouraged, but primarily, we want to enhance our experience as Latinos in the workplace.
After some reflection, I have identified a missing piece; a Latinx professional support network for international education professionals. Indeed, this field offers knowledge-based community groups but doesn’t offer ethnic-based communities. Furthermore, If we analyze the main objective of other Latinx professional organizations (in other sectors), there’s a common goal; to raise awareness, create engagement, and empower.
To support Latinx professionals in the field, we need more groups that focus on Latinx identity and professional development. The lack of supportive networks can create internalized narratives that make Latinx professionals believe that we are incapable of being part of those spaces. Additionally, we talk about the importance of retaining diverse talent and the importance of staff representation, and how students need to see people who look like them in the offices that serve them. But what are we doing to address and support this?
Some Institutions/organizations already have professional coalitions or affinity groups that provide spaces for staff to develop opportunities for engagement as it relates to their experiences in their respective organizations or institutions. Within higher education, there are various local, statewide and national organizations dedicated to Latino progress and advancement:
In the Future
Next month, students, professionals, and international educators across the nation will observe National Hispanic Heritage Month. This is celebrated from September 15- October 15. Given the timing and the start of a new academic year, I want to use this opportunity to reach out to Latinx leaders in the field, creative minds, advocates, mentors, and educators that hold the same sentiment. Who is willing to create that space for us? Study abroad advisers like myself and new professionals in the field of international education would find this extremely beneficial. More importantly, this field needs Latinx momentum and a model to serve our current and future international education practitioners.
As we move forward into a post-pandemic era, this might be the right time for Latinx professionals in the field to gather and create a space of belonging and unity. Together we’ll revisit and discuss the lack of underrepresented students studying abroad and how we need to improve and make positive changes. More importantly, we’ll discuss how we can better our hiring practices and how we should retain talent… The Latinx talent in the field of International Education.
Education Abroad Representative
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