You’re diligently planning your study abroad fair. You’re busy. You don’t have time to be creative. Not to worry, I’ve done the creative thinking for you! Here are tips on developing an INNOVATIVE study abroad fair:
Market your fair using video: Here are some great examples by University of Maryland, Murray State University, University of Tennessee, Providence College, Colgate University, and University of Wisconsin.
This video by University of California – Riverside – actually instructs students about how to navigate the fair:
Jazz up the name of the fair: We know that the term “study abroad” comes with perceived barriers and stereotypes like “expensive” or “requires fluency.” How about naming your fair something different and a bit cheeky this year? “The Affordable Global Education Fair”? Maybe you can add a subtitle? “Study Abroad: The Transformation Fair” or “Go Away: Academics Abroad Fair” or “GlobalU: University X’s Study Abroad Fair: Where a 2nd language is often optional.” Or go really wild with something like “Globalpalooza” (the students will get that latter one!) Even better, write the name of your fair in multiple languages!
Bring in a keynote speaker to kick off the fair: This innovative approach will drive traffic to your fair. This will bring people out to your fair who may not normally plan to attend. The keynote should share a message of the 3 As: Academic, Adventure, Abroad. The academic speaks to the purpose of a class. The adventure speaks to your students. The abroad speaks to your study abroad fair reps, who have traveled countless miles to represent their fine programs abroad. Melibee offers several speakers who will inspire your students to be adventurous: Chris Bashinelli from Bridge the Gap TV, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq from 30 mosques, Katie Krueger from Give with Gratitude, and Carrie Wagner from Village Wisdom. Ask your study abroad providers to sponsor (or co-sponsor) the speaker – and the speaker will be happy to give a “shout out” to their rep and table!
Include International Students: Ask some international students to volunteer for the fair. Have them sit with representatives from country specific programs to provide insight into daily living and perks of each location. Ask them to wear something traditional, if appropriate, to add to the cultural mix of the day.
Create a reason for faculty to attend: Faculty often don’t come to the fair. However, faculty will attend professional development opportunities that they see as valuable – such as having a concurrent faculty training on an interesting academic topic. Have a colleague from NAFSA, The Forum on Education Abroad or another organization present on trends in study abroad or bring in a speaker like Dr. Craig Shealy to talk about where our beliefs and values come from.
Provide a quiet space: Study abroad fairs can be loud. Really loud. Offer a small room with some meditative music near the fair for students to decompress, review materials, and to gather their thoughts. Then, offer a second room to play alternating videos of experiences abroad that will inspire them to take the leap! I’d recommend a running loop of Cole Blaise’s Studies Abroad online TV show and Chris Bashinelli’s Bridge The Gap TV episodes. Here is an example of Chris’ channel:
I hope these tips have helped! Melibee Global wishes you an innovative and lively study abroad fair!
PS – read some tips from last year’s post on how to create a great study abroad fair!