CIS Abroad Blog

NAFSA Denver Recap

We met, we played, and we learned! Our first NAFSA in three years was a success. Gathering in person after so much time away has filled our cups. It was so good to gather and to remember the “why” behind what we do. We are energized as we head into summer and planning for the next academic year and beyond. Below are five themes that emerged through conversations with colleagues and conference sessions.

NAFSA Themes

1. Newcomers!

There are many new people in our field, as well as people in new positions. 40% of NAFSA goers were first time attendees. It's exciting to welcome so many in such a large gathering. It will be important to retain institutional memory as we make way for new ideas and innovations. 

2. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This work is important to our students and colleagues. We must expand who works in the field and how we help historically marginalized communities participate more fully. 

3. Sustainability

There was a lot of discussion around the importance of UN Sustainable Development Goals, and other courses and curriculum that help students connect with building a more sustainable world. Taking care of the earth is a growing motivator for choosing a particular program or major. 

4. Democracy & Academic Freedom

Given the on-going situation in the Ukraine, democracy and academic freedom are at the forefront of the hearts and minds of many. 

5. Career Readiness

Now more than ever, career readiness and the value of an education abroad experience are being discussed. We know the learning outcomes and their applicability and relevance to key competencies. How can we better articulate this? 

Amazing Places Race & Reception

Our first NAFSA Amazing Places Race & Reception in three years was a success! Thanks to all the teams who competed and showed us what teamwork, fun, and cultural curiosity are all about. Participants truly lived our CIS Abroad values. Below are some photos from the race!

1st place: Team GlobalTrotters

Taking home our Grand Prize of four $500 flight vouchers from StudentUniverse!

Sean Walpole (VACorps), Oliver Hagan (VACorps), Stephanie Benes (University of Nebraska - Lincoln), Heidi White (Durham Tech)


2nd Place & Spirit Award: Pura Vida Hogs

Taking home our Spirit Award of four $500 student scholarships.

Madison Barnes (University of Arkansas), Alejandra Barahona (Universidad Veritas), Sarah Malloy (University of Arkansas), Silvia Quesada (Universidad Veritas)


3rd place: Pines & Palms

Taking home great memories and knowledge of Denver!  ;)

Holly Wheeler (Northern Arizona University), Daniel Diaz (Guilford College), James Ehmer (University of Central Florida), Melinda Marquardt (Northern Arizona University)


Pics from Race Challenges

Take a picture of your team hiding in plain sight.


Take a photo of two teammates imitating the 50ft high "The Dancers" sculpture in Sculpture Park.


Take a photo of your team having story time at the Denver Public Library.


Take a photo of the front page of a Denver newspaper, magazine or other local publication.


Take a photo using trick photography so it looks like one teammate is "holding" another tiny teammate in their hand!


Take a group photo of your team in the most creative, unique place you can find.


Take a photo of your team "stopping to smell the roses."


Spell a word using your bodies.  Pretty sure they were going for CIS...nice effort!?


Take a photo of your team's best ballet poses... point those toes!


Thanks you to all our Amazing Places Race participants, it was SO much fun, we hope to see you again next year in Washington, DC!