The Envisage International Video Series has Launched

As promised, the Envisage International video series has launched. Back in June, we blogged about a new video series that we would be starting in July that would be tailored towards best practices for schools that are marketing their institutions and programs online. Since then, we have introduced our first in a series that we hope will serve as a true resource to any school that is currently using online marketing as a recruiting tool or those that are considering it. In our video series, the videos will be produced by us, but will be case studies of how our partner schools are effectively marketing themselves online and will show you how they are following through with their marketing efforts to establish effective campaigns. If done right, an online marketing campaign can be a very effective way to cast a large net across the globe to find the students that are a good fit for your school. However, it takes more than just putting your school on the web.

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In our first video of the series, “Turning Inquiries Into Real College Enrollments”, we highlighted our Featured School partner, Felician College, and explained how they take inquiries through the enrollment funnel and turn them into completed applications. This does not come without challenges. Felician is a small, private Catholic college, located in New Jersey. They are looking for a very specific student. One that wants to study in the NE US and is comfortable studying at a small school. While they don’t need to be Catholic, they must be comfortable studying at a religious school. Being a smaller school, Felician’s international recruiting team is also faced with limited resources to manage the inquiries that come in through their online marketing efforts.

Take a look at the video and see how Felician does a great job finding the right prospects, turns them into inquiries and then into applications. The Envisage International video series has launched. Stay tuned as we continue to show how our school partners are successful marketing their schools online. Does your school do a good job with online marketing and the follow through?

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Bringing our Blogs to Life – New Video Series

I recently got evicted from my office. The last time that happened… Well, never mind. This time is different. I was evicted from my office because we transformed it into a video recording studio. We are now able to produce high quality white board presentations, hangouts and videos all from the comfort of my old office. We are now going to bring our blogs to life, starting with a new video series tailored towards the best practices for managing student inquiries.

Envisage International's Studio

Envisage International’s Studio

Our new video series will start next week with our first in the series, “Best Practices for Managing Student Inquiries.” It will be followed by “Timely Follow up is a Must” and “Putting Together and Effective Communications Plan.” These videos will be tailored to our current Featured School partners that we are generating inquiries for through their Featured School profiles on InternationalStudent.com. They will also benefit anyone that is currently receiving student inquiries from their own efforts or through third parties, like us.

The new video series is part of our new initiative to assign a dedicated account consultant to all of our Featured School partners. The account consultant is to act as a resource to ensure the success of each campaign, from developing effective marketing via our online resources, generating quality student inquiries, and nurturing those leads into enrollments. We believe that the success stories of our partner schools can help other schools be successful. This is what we are hoping to accomplish with our new video series.

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Internationalization & Content in Multiple Languages

One of our big focuses this year is the internationalization of our content, allowing it to be understood natively in multiple languages and appeal to a wider audience. There are many factors to consider when creating internationalized content, from choosing a URL strategy to ensuring that your SEO is protected from duplicate content issues. If you do it right, you’ll be able to provide an excellent service to your user base and still keep all the search engines on board.
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Creating Video Content – Nuts and Bolts

One of our goals for 2014 has been to create new and compelling content to attract visitors. Google has been heavily promoting the Hangouts On Air for live video conferencing/presentations and we’ve started using them to connect with international students and answer their questions about financing their studies, choosing the right schools and a host of other topics. Video content in general has been very effective at building traffic and visitor engagement so we started producing our own whiteboard/blackboard presentations plus professionally produced animations to explain things like insurance for international students and the US healthcare system overall.

 

Studio LightingThe lighting for our blackboard and whiteboard presentations are basically the same, reflections from the whiteboard are a little harder to compensate for our as our production studio (really, an unused office) is quite small and we don’t have the room to move the lights further away from the board. We have had the best luck setting up our lights with softboxes/diffusers at the side edges of the whiteboard to fully illuminate it, a third light off the side that illuminates the presenter and a fourth light that is positioned in front and above the presenter.

 

Quality audio is one of the key aspects of a good video. We’ve tried a variety of microphones; from the camera’s built-in mic (passable) to a shotgun mic and clip-on lavalier microphones. We use Audio-Technica ATR-3350 mics and have had mixed results. When they work, the sound is generally very good. The batteries are hit or miss and the connections inside seem fragile and prone to breakage. The included cables are quite thin but they are 20′ long. If you’re careful with them and keep a ready supply of batteries on hand, you should be able to get decent sound. We also have started using a shotgun mic mounted on the camera to reduce the cables needing to be run around the studio and as a backup to our lav mics.

 

Magic LanternThe camera we decided on for our video production is a Canon EOS T3i/600D DSLR. These cameras are very reasonable priced and have a huge selection of lenses, batteries, microphones and other accessories available to us locally and online. For our purposes the video quality is outstanding, it can film in full HD, 1980 x 1080 at a variety of frames per second. With the Magic Lantern firmware additions we have access to really high-end features like focus peaks and exposure zebra stripes. We use 32GB class-10 cards to keep up with the high volume of data that needs to get stored, slower cards could cause problems. We also added an extended battery grip that can hold two batteries at once, extending the time we can shoot without needing to swap out batteries. We also picked up extra batteries and a few more chargers so when we do need to swap things out, we’re back online quickly. We’d tried a very cheap tripod but quickly found out that even though we’re not moving the camera around very much, we still needed something with rock-solid stability. The Weifeng tripod we settled on has three stage legs, a bowl mounted fluid head and can get our camera almost 6′ in the air.

 

We do a minimal amount of editing to the videos after they are shot, mostly just some minor color correction and sometimes some tweaking to the audio. Adobe Premiere is a heavyweight video editor and is overkill for what we need but we’re anticipating more complex videos in the future and it’s power will come in very handy. For the Hangouts we’ve been doing we wanted to use the same camera so we needed software to bridge the Canon T3i to the operating system and have it appear as a regular webcam. SparkoCam fills this need and has several options for us to work with so we’ve got the optimal resolution for Hangouts without wasting any bandwidth on pixels that won’t get displayed.

Hardware:

  • Camera – Canon T3i/600D w/ 18-55 kit lens with Magic Lantern firmware add-on
  • Transcend 32GB class-10 SDHC memory cards
  • Extended battery grip, spare batteries and chargers
  • Lighting – 5 x 1000 watt lights with softboxes plus hairlight on boom
  • Audio-Technica ATR3350 lavalier mic / VidPro XM-55 on-camera shotgun mic
  • Weifeng WF-717 tripod with fluid head and three stage legs
    • Sold under various brand names, but available on Amazon and eBay for around $130-150

 

Software:

  • Editing – Adobe Premiere
  • Music – YouTube has several royalty-free selections to choose from and there are many resources available on the net for music that can be used under the Creative Commons license.
  • SparkoCam software to allow the Canon 600D to act as a webcam for Google Hangouts.

 

Here are a few of the videos and Hangouts we’ve done so far:

 

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Envisage International launches 5 new Featured School Partners

We are pleased to announce the launch of 5 new Featured School partners on InternationalStudent.com. These new additions provide our visitors more opportunities to easily find a school that meets their educational needs. Our new Featured School partners offer a variety of different programs and degrees that are ideal for diversifying our site and our resources. We are excited to introduce them to our community of international students.

Each new Featured School will have an enhanced profile that has unlimited content, including campus photos and videos, student profiles, program descriptions and their schools social media feeds right into the profile. They are also integrated into the USA School Search that will give them a top listing when a student’s search matches criteria that the school offers. Students can then inquire directly to the school to receive more information, using the form located on the Featured Profile.

Fisher Blog

The new Featured Schools include:

New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies – NYU’s SCPS is looking for exposure to their MS in Translation degree, wanting to reach students across the globe.

Fisher College – Located in the heart of Boston in the Black Bay Neighborhood, Fisher offers a variety of certificate programs, two year Associate Degrees and Bachelor Degree programs.

Valencia College – Located in Orlando Florida, Valencia has students from 79 countries from across the globe. They also offer guaranteed admission into the University of Central Florida for those who successfully complete their AA Degree.

Community College of Philadelphia – The Community Colleges of Philadelphia has four campuses located throughout Philadelphia and offers AA degrees to international students with several transfer options.

Hiram College - Located in Tifton, Ohio, Hiram college is a diverse campus with students from over 30 different countries and represent more than 25 different religions. Hiram College offers a wide variety of Bachelor’s degrees to international students.

You can view their Featured School profiles here. How does your school reach and attract international students?

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5 Reasons to Hire an Online Marketing Company to Help Reach and Recruit International Students

You have an in depth website, are active Facebook & Twitter. Your campus videos are uploaded to your school’s YouTube channel and you are getting into Google+. So why would you hire and online marketing company to help reach and recruit international students? Here are five reasons to hire an online marketing company to help reach and recruit international students.

1. Reach – How many students find your website or engage with you via your social media channels? Clearly those that are searching for it. But what about those that are not specifically looking for you, and maybe what you offer? By partnering with third party online marketing companies, you can expand your reach, brand and messaging to an audience much larger than you can reach on your own.

2. SEO – Online marketing companies, at least the good ones, know an awful lot about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. A simple explanation of SEO, is the behind the scenes things that webmasters and web developers do to ensure a site can be found on search engines like Google. So if you partner with the right online marketing company and by listing your programs on their site, you will expand your reach significantly and more students will find out about your school and programs. You will benefit from their SEO efforts.

Take the example below. If you offer business programs and want to attract international students how are they going to find you? They do a simple Google search. If you search for, “Study business in the US”, our site InternationalStudent.com is ranked first in the free or organic listings. This is due to our SEO efforts. Notice there are not any schools listed other than through paid search.

Google Search Result

3. Expertise – In addition to SEO expertise, online marketing companies are good at many other things aspects of marketing. They will look at things such as traffic and how to increase it, time spent on each page, what the visitors are doing on the site, what do they want to do, how many are engaging with our sites and how many are converting to leads? They optimize everything from what the users sees to the forms on the school landing pages to make sure they convert. In addition to their own website or sites, they should have an email marketing team, that looks at many of the same things listed above, such as open rate, clicks and conversions all to maximize the campaign.

4. International – Another reason to hire an online marketing company is that domestic marketing or marketing to US students can be much different that marketing your school to international students across the globe. With different customs, languages, social media platforms, search engines, getting your message across and have it relate to an international student can be difficult to accomplish by trying it alone. When looking at an online marketing partner, make sure they have experience marketing to the parts of the globe where you are interested in reaching students.

5. Time and resources – Are you busy now? Can you handle all the online marketing efforts on your own in addition to everything else you have on your plate? By outsourcing or hiring a professional marketing company can be a cost-effective way to offload some of your duties. It will allow you to focus your team on what they are good at, whether that is managing agent relationships or traveling abroad to fairs, you will know your online marketing plan is in place and working without having to dedicate full time resources to it.

Have you considered working with a third party online marketing company?

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International Education Pick of the Week – 11 April 2014

pick-of-the-weekThis week we our international education pick of the week focuses attention right in our own backyard – international students and campus internationalization in Florida.  According to the Open Doors Report, Florida ranks 7th as far as hosting international students, with a grand total of 32,746, behind California (111,379), New York (88,250), Texas (62,923), Massachusetts (46,486), Illinois (39,132) and Pennsylvania (37,280).  The direct economic contribution to the state from these students is closing in on a billion dollars at $945,001,999.

The University of Florida leads the way, with 5,961 international students.  Here’s a sampling of a few more:

Florida International University: 3,018
University of Miami: 2,765
University of South Florida: 2,648
University of Central Florida: 1,925
Florida State University: 1726
Miami-Dade College: 1,579
Nova Southeastern University: 1,130
Embry-Riddle: 915
University of Tampa: 813
Broward College: 474
Valencia Community College: 471

This is certainly not a complete list, just a sampling, as there are many more colleges and universities in Florida that host sizable international student populations.  Nor is this list likely to be stable – many Florida schools are aggressively trying to grow their international student populations. An article this week in the Orlando Sun-Sentinel looks at the plans at a few Florida schools, which indicates that the number of international students in Florida will continue to surge.  According to the article,  UCF wants to more than double its number of international students to 5,000; the University of West Florida wants to double or triple its number of internationals; and even UF, with almost 6,000 international students already, is aggressively looking to increase that number.

The forces driving the increased recruiting of international students in Florida echo those around the country.  In an era when state funding for higher education has taken big hits, international students are a welcome source of money.  In addition, increasing campus internationalization is seen as a tremendous advantage for the school, helping to train future leaders in an interconnected world.  And Florida is a desirable location for many international students, offering big city opportunities in Miami, great research facilities in Gainesville and yes, plenty of beach access.

The article explores the critique that international students will take places from Floridians, as many of the schools on the list are public schools.  The schools, UF in particular, deny the allegation, saying the spots are unused transfer spots that do not reduce spots available to Floridians.   Of course, there’s a host of private schools in the state as well, not subject to such constraints, and the are also aggressively recruiting.  In any event, it seems fair to say that in five years, campuses and student bodies throughout Florida will look a lot more international than they do now!

As always, comments are welcome on this post, and we’ll answer them as quickly as we can. And if you have any suggestions for the pick of the week, please email or tweet us at @EnvisageIntl.

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Mobile Email Strategies

mobile-responsive-email-designWhat device, browser, or app do you use for email? According to Litmus, email opens on mobile devices topped 50% for the first time in December 2013. This means that overall more users were checking email on a phone than on a computer. Numbers will vary based on the target audience, however this is a trend that should continue.

So what can you do to best target these on-the-go users? There are several strategies in email design, each with pros and cons.

1. Scalable

A scalable email design is built with a single layout that is used across all devices, from mobile to desktop. The email is generally built for the desktop view and in mobile the email looks like a zoomed out version of the desktop view.

Pros: Easy to implement. Looks great on desktop.

Cons: Poorer user experience for mobile. Smaller text and buttons means the user needs to pinch and zoom.

2. Mobile First

A “mobile first” email design is usually a simpler, cleaner design, with content in a single column. The main body text is larger, usually 16px, and buttons are larger and easily clickable on a mobile device. The basic intent of a mobile-first email design is to make sure the email is easily viewable and clickable on a mobile device. The desktop view looks the same as the mobile view.

Pros: Looks great on mobile devices. Simpler design is usually easier to implement.

Cons: Desktop view can be less than ideal, with larger buttons and text.

3. Fluid

Email width changes to fit the screen size. Sizes for content and images are percentage based instead of fixed width, with text wrapping automatically.

Pros: Images and text resize automatically to fill the screen

Cons: Text can look really stretched out on a wider screen.

4. Responsive

Responsive email design uses media queries to show different content to different size devices. Basically, you can define a set of rules for how each item in the email displays on different size screens. Responsive design gives you the most control over how an email renders. This can range from simple changes to the font or hiding or showing entire elements on one screen size or another.

Pros: Very flexible. Able to create designs that work well on different size devices.

Cons: Not supported by a few key email providers (most notably, Gmail). More complex. Needs lots of testing.

Summary

There are several different options for designing email templates. All have pluses and minuses and range from simple to complex. With more and more emails being opened on mobile devices, mobile-friend emails are a must. Responsive email design is certainly the way things are moving today.

Responsive design gives you the most flexibility, with one big drawback…lack of support in some email clients, including both the Android and iPhone Gmail apps as well as web-based Gmail on the desktop. To counteract the lack of support for responsive design, consider designing an email that looks great on Gmail without media queries. Once your email looks good there, then apply responsive media queries to make your email look great on any device.

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Health Insurance Best Practices for the J1 Cultural Exchange World

j1-visa-best-practice-insuranceWith growing emphasis on improved experiences for cultural exchange participants on the U.S. State Department J1 Exchange Visitor Programs, we find it surprising that inadequate participant insurance coverage is still allowed and in place for a significant number of the eager young travelers who come to the U.S. each year. Each year during the renewal process, program sponsors have an opportunity to ensure their Plans provide accident and sickness insurance that not only meet program regulations but more importantly provides coverage adequate to meet the actual needs of their participants. The quality of participant insurance is a health and safety issue and directly impacts participant experience and public perception of the J1 program both in the US and abroad. In our opinion, it is only a matter of time before the issue of too lenient requirements or non-conforming coverage brings unwanted media attention or State Department sanction, or both. The question is, in drafting the new General Provisions (Sub-Part A) of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations, will the State Department sufficiently address and police insurance coverage requirements or will sponsors be allowed to continue to cut corners on an element of the program vital to the wellbeing of participants?

On September 22nd 2009, the US State Department published a proposed rule with request for comment regarding the proposed amendments to Sub-Part A of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations. Covering a wide range of topics, the proposed rule also included changes to the levels of insurance coverage that were originally put into effect back in 1993 and redesignated in October of 1999.

With these new insurance requirements looming, here are our health insurance best practices for the J1 Cultural Exchange world into the USA:

Coverage Maximum

It’s very clear that the current levels of coverage aren’t enough. Having come into force over 20 years ago, what was once adequate coverage, is now in-adequate. To give you a better idea, here are some real-life examples of injuries and illnesses and their related costs over the past 12 months:

  • Acute Appendicitis – $60,000
  • Major Car Accident with ICU – $260,000
  • Back Injury from Bicycle Accident – $85,000

Clearly with the rising costs of medical care and medical inflation over the last 20 years, the current levels are too low, and the introduction of Sub-Part A is very welcomed. Our guidance has always been that $50,000 is not sufficient, and that coverage should either be at $100,000, or better yet at $200,000. If Sub-Part A does come back again this year with $200,000 as the guide for the policy minimum, this will certainly bring the level of coverage to 2014 standards – it would be in very rare circumstances that $200,000 would be necessary but in the case of the care accident highlighted above, it can happen.

Carrier/Underwriter

Your insurance carrier/underwriter is the financial backbone of your insurance plan, and for this reason you should be very mindful of all aspects about them, such as their reputation in the industry, experience in the market and of course their insurance rating. A few key areas that should be pinpointed:

Foreign/Domestic

There are both foreign and domestic insurance carriers/underwriters that offer great coverage for the cultural exchange market. Domestic carriers such as Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and AIG/Chartis tend to offer organizations a name they know and trust, along with usually a good reputation and a strong PPO network in the US. The issue to watch for is that a domestic carrier may lack the expertise to deal with the large number of foreign participants all descending into the USA at the same time. Issues such as accepting international names, where a participant might have the same first and last name or hyphenated names could create problems in systems not designed for these formats. Billing and admin processes that are setup for the US market, the sheer influx of participants over the summer months and the corresponding spike in claims and service needs can overload systems not programmed to manage such volume.

International carriers like Lloyds of London, InterHannover and ACE are typically more adept at handling international travelers, with technology and support systems in place around the globe and in the US. Foreign carriers also tend to be a little more flexible with benefits and pricing, as they have more experience with the global markets. The main point to look out for with a foreign carrier is to ensure they have a strong PPO network in the USA. The PPO network will be the primary point of access for your participants to seek treatment, and can also reduce your claims as strong PPO networks can negotiate good discounts. Without a strong PPO, claims can sometimes balloon out of control.

With that all said, there are good domestic and international carriers serving this market, so the choice will come down to the product, pricing, and reputation and experience in the market.

Reputation

When reviewing insurers, their reputation in the marketplace can be one of the strongest guides to how well they are performing. Look for 2 or 3 clients who are similar to you that are using their services, and even try to find past clients (if they have any) and find out the reason they moved. References from past and existing clients will give you an excellent window into their world and how they operate.

Market Experience

There are new carriers/underwriters that enter the cultural exchange market every few years. With little experience they can often offer lower rates and it can be a tempting option. However, you see these carriers exit the market a few years later due to either large claims or through their lack of experience with dealing with international participants. The experience factor can be vital to a successful plan, so that they understand how the business works in terms of claim patterns, billing arrangements, working with a solid PPO provider to obtain good network discounts, etc… A good question to always ask is “How long has the carrier been working in the cultural exchange market?” For a truly stable insurance solution, you want to see 5+ years experience as that would give them the time to really understand the marketplace.

Insurance Rating

A requirement of regulations for the J1 visa is that the carrier/underwriter needs to possess one of the following ratings:

  • an AM Best rating of “A-” or above
  • an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above
  • a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above
  • or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above

In practice, carriers seem to rely on their AM Best or S&P rating, as the ISI ratings are no longer relevant and Weiss is not often used. The insurance rating needs to be held by the exact same entity that is underwriting your business, and is easy to check. Look on your insurance certificate for the name of the insurance carrier. Then search for them on the Standard and Poors or AM Best website. Each of those sites require that you create a free account, but once you do searching is simple:

http://www.standardandpoors.com/

http://www.ambest.com/

Ratings are a way to know how financially solid the insurance company is, and therefore how likely is it that the carrier will be able to pay claims as they come due. For a rating to be valid, it must be held by the same entity that appears on your certificate, not a parent company, subsidiary or member of a family of companies. Many insurance companies have complicated corporate structures, with many parent and subsidiary companies, often as a result of compliance requirements around the world or as liability protection. The rating of a parent company is no good if the subsidiary writes the business – that corporate structure protects the parent from the debts of the subsidiary. You cannot use one company’s rating to meet the requirements, while another company in the group writes the business.

Finally, you should check your carrier’s rating annually, as ratings change as the financial condition of the company and the risks it is exposed to change.

Service

The service and support your participants receive is one of the most important aspects of your insurance plan. Knowing that claims are being paid efficiently and participants are being responded to in a timely and professional manner are key points. When looking at the service aspect of your plan, there are a few key points to remember:

Location. For the J1 market it is imperative that the administration of the plan is located within the US, for service, support and a good understanding of the US healthcare system.

Provider Network.  A strong provider network (PPO Network) will help your participants with access to care and also provide important pricing discounts, as network providers have negotiated rates that will save your plan money in the long term.

Features. The extra features that your plan provides will make the administration easier for you and your participants. Do they offer online claims tracking? Access to documents online? Online enrollment?

Experience. The J1 market is very unique, and having an administrator that has experience in the market is vital. For example, with the summer work and travel program you have a huge number of participants entering the US, stay for a few short months, and then leave. Claims will all come in at one period, and your administrator will need to handle this large influx. Also dealing with international students should be taken into account as there may be a language barrier and claimants could be outside the USA when they follow up their claims.

Summary

With the increasing scrutiny on the J1 programs over the last few years, non-compliant or insufficient insurance coverage should not contribute to further issues. The changes due in Sub-Part A will address some of the concerns, but items like sufficient carrier ratings and industry experience are key areas that many can quickly check when looking at insurance providers. When participant health and safety is concerned, it should be a top priority.

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International Education Pick of the Week – 21 March 2014

pick-of-the-weekOne of the best and most inspiring parts of international education is the opportunity to exchange with people from around the world, regardless of the official relations between the respective countries.  The Open Doors Report shows international students in the US from countries where the US has difficult, strained or even non-existent government relations, including 8,744 Iranian students, 87 Cuban students and even 17 North Korean students. So we know that international educational exchange can continue in the face of rocky relations.  But with history in the making on the world stage, complete with chilling images of Russian troops occupying a sovereign nation, today’s international education pick of the week has to look at the Russian annexation of the Crimea.  First, we will look at the existing international education landscape, then I’ll highlight some of my favorite media pieces addressing the current crisis.

By the Numbers

There are 131 Americans studying in the Ukraine, and 1,777 in Russia, again according to the Open Doors Report.  Conversely, there are 1,490 Ukrainians studying in the US, and 4,898 Russians.  In addition, we know from direct experience that there are thousands of Russian and Ukrainian J1 participants, particularly on the Work and Travel program.

Insider Higher Ed reported earlier this month that several US study abroad programs had indeed been evacuating participants from the Ukraine.  I haven’t yet seen any reports of other international students leaving Ukraine’s universities, but according to the article, there are over 61,000 international students in Ukraine, mostly from Asia and former Soviet states.  Other US study abroad providers are considering cancelling certain programs in Russia.

Program cancellations are almost always as a result of participant safety considerations, not political ones. Therefore it’s unlikely that Ukrainian or Russian students would need to leave the US, regardless of the course of events.

Soviet re-Union?

There’s been all sorts of opinions and analysis in the Western press about the meaning of Russia’s actions, some of it really insightful, and you could spend weeks reading it all.   Does Putin want to rebuild the former Soviet Union? This article in the Star looks at multiple angles on the question. Should the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) fear that they are next?   Although they are NATO members, where Ukraine isn’t, would that alliance protect them?   Reuters reported on recent Russian statements comparing treatment of Russian speakers in Estonia to the treatment of Russian speakers in Ukraine, the very issue cited by Putin for the move into the Crimea.  On the other hand, Russia says that it will fully protect the rights of minority populations in the Crimea, including Tatars.  But what does history and the reality of the current situation tell us on this point?  This New Yorker article makes you wonder, reporting that a group of four baton-carrying young men had marked all of the houses occupied by Tatars, but not those occupied by Russians.  One bone-chilling line from a Russian Crimean woman quoted in the article:

“Whoever did it was just joking,” one woman, who did not wish to be named, told me. “We get along with our neighbors fine,” she continued. “But it would be helpful if Crimean Tatars stopped supporting Kiev.”

Some joke.

Punishing Putin?

With the initial frenzied media and government response to the Crimea annexation behind us, more thoughtful analysis has begun to spring up.  Putin has said he was pushed to the actions in the Crimea by the eastern expansion of NATO and to protect Russian speakers there, and that he has no intentions of going any further. Obama has said there will be no military intervention in Ukraine.   So where do we go from here?  Alexey A. Navalny, former reformist candidate for Mayor of Moscow and currently under house arrest in Russia, authored an op-ed piece in the NY Times, How to Punish Putin.  His short answer: to punish Putin, really attack his oligarchs, cutting them off from their plush Western lifestyles, and attack corruption directly, including corruption that involved Western countries. Finally, this NY Times blog post looks at how Ukraine’s deteriorating economic situation could ultimately drive more parts of Ukraine towards Russia.

As always, comments are welcome on this post, and we’ll answer them as quickly as we can. And if you have any suggestions for the pick of the week, please email or tweet us at @EnvisageIntl.

 

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