GoAbroad’s Innovation Awards – Much More than a Popularity Contest

 GoAbroad Team

Why am I crying?

The video below moved me to tears. Having worked with thousands of international students over two decades, I am always in awe of their strength and determination to succeed in another country and culture. Where did I catch this video?  It was the winner of Go Abroad’s Innovative Student Video for 2014. Take a peek at how Gorazd Lazorik describes the impact of his internship experience in this video. Twenty plus years in this field and this is one of the best examples of the power of international education. Gorazd understands that global citizenship isn’t a one-time experience abroad – it is a journey, a winding path, a place that invites us in to reflect, to express gratitude, to miss those we love. Truly beautiful stuff:

Innovation Groupies Unite

I’m a big fan of innovation – and this video illustrates how quietly sharing a story can be ten times more impactful than a flashy, Facebook selfie-centric extravaganza.

Innovation is where we, as educators, take what we “do” every day in our effort to expand the minds of students who pursue knowledge abroad and make MAGIC out of it.

At Melibee, we strive to be innovative in all that we undertake – and I’m really grateful to see that GoAbroad has created a way to celebrate innovation in the our field. From technology, to program design, to philanthropy (a new award this year!), we see our field striving to engage students and sojourners in a more connected and relevant manner.

What does this translate to?  Ideally, it creates better types of experiences abroad for the end users: students, faculty, parents, communities abroad, homestay families and other stakeholders. But what else does it facilitate?  A spark for ALL of us to propel our creativity forward instead of staying in the safety zone. After all, isn’t that where the deepest pool of learning is found, at the intersection of bypassing our safe space and thinking beyond what we ever thought possible – and isn’t that why we encourage students to learn abroad in the first place?

Innovative New Internship Program Winners  from 2014 - Global Experiences
Innovative New Internship Program Winners from 2014 – Global Experiences

For me, as a company that supports international educators but does not send students abroad, the GoAbroad Innovation Awards have definitely served as a motivator in my daily work. It reminds me to ask: What else can we do to make sure that we are approaching projects in a way that engages people at a different level?  How can we encourage students to participate in education abroad experiences that aren’t about quantity, but quality? (And I adore that the nominees are not rewarded for the quantity of submissions, but rather the quality of them! YES!  YES! YES!  Quality matters – this is no popularity contest people!)

What ARE the awards anyway?

There are NINE categories this year. The newest is the Innovation in Philanthropy – a cause worth celebrating!

  • Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media : Creative and groundbreaking marketing
  • Innovative New Program : Inventive global programs
  • Innovative Technology : Technological advancement towards education
  • Innovation in Sustainability : Commitment to environmental conservation and/or sustainable community development projects
  • Innovation in Diversity : Established leader in the area of diversity
  • Innovative Student Video : Captures the true essence of international education
  • People’s Choice : Nominated by advisers, chosen by students
  • The STA Travel Start the Adventure Award : An individual making travel more accessible to student and youth travelers, sponsored by STA Travel
  • NEW! Innovation in Philanthropy (sponsored by the GoAbroad Foundation) : Exceptional corporate responsibility and philanthropy

The winners are selected by the Go Abroad Academy – some top notch and storied educators from the university, third party provider, and tangential services world. (I’d definitely be keen to grab coffee with just about anyone on this list – ah, the stories they could share!)

I’m shameless

You’re probably wondering if Melibee Global has won a GoAbroad Innovation Award. The answer is no. NOT YET. (We like to think positively around the Melibee Hive!) And yes, I’ve shamelessly had our team nominate our work. And I’m not that embarrassed because it is part Submit Your Nomination

of the rules – you CAN nominate yourself!  After all, if you are doing great work in the world and practicing your innovation gene, then you should nominate yourself!  You can do so here.

I want more

Are you moved to innovate?  Do you want to be part of this list? To learn more about the Innovation Awards and how to nominate yourself or others, be sure to check out the GoAbroad Innovation Awards website!  Be sure to do it soon – the nomination form closes at midnight MST on Friday, April 10, 2015!