With the beginning of a new academic year, the Commission for Global Dimensions of Student Development (CGDSD) is excited to welcome two new Blog and Podcast Editors to the team: Meena and Yi Xuen (who were previous guests on Global Connection episode #6 on advocating for international students)!
The Global Connections podcast and CGDSD blog series provides a learning community for those passionate about racial justice and decolonization in international higher education. We hope you’ll find these conversations engaging, informative, and restorative to our profession. In this blogpost, let us (re-)introduce our 3 blog and podcast editors: Meena Pannirselvam (she/they/அவள்), Yi Xuen Tay (she/hers/她), and Lixing Li (she/hers/她).
Q: Introduce yourselves to our readers and share a little about your professional and/or scholarly interests in higher education.
Meena: My name is Meena, and I currently serve as a coordinator for the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Mississippi State University which is a public land-grant institution located on the homelands of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez tribes. In this role, I coordinate, plans, and implements diversity and inclusion initiatives at the professional staff and faculty levels in the university, including programming, training, and outreach. I am also passionate about improving international students’ college experience by dismantling barriers, challenging laws and policies, and building community and support for the student group.
Yi Xuen: My name is Yi Xuen (“yee shwen”), and I am currently a Resident Director at the University of Nevada, Reno, a land-grant institution situated on the traditional homelands of the Numu (Northern Paiute), Wašiw (Washoe), Newe (Western Shoshone), Nuwu (Southern Paiute) peoples. As a nonimmigrant from Malaysia, an advocate, and an allied student affairs professional, I am passionate about decolonizing higher education and international student support on college campuses via both practice and research.
Lixing: My name is Lixing. I am currently working as an academic advisor at Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis, which is located in the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Osage Nation, Missouria, Illinois Confederacy and many other tribes. I am interested in helping students to grow and improve their skills. I am also interested in promote cultural communication between international students and domestic students.
Q: What drew you to ACPA, CGDSD, and the Blog and Podcast Editor role?
Meena: I was seeking for professional development to further enhance my knowledge and development when a professor suggested ACPA. After attending, presenting in my first in-person ACPA conference in 2022, I was introduced to CGDSD by a couple of my friends and colleagues which led me to seek the role to be a blog editor and the commission’s mission aligned well with mine. As an editor, I wanted to expand my view and others’ by creating pieces that are incongruent with macro level international student support, globalization, and cultural humility.
Yi Xuen: I first learned of ACPA and CGDSD when I was seeking professional organizations related to international education, after deciding to pursue a career as a Student Affairs Professional. After volunteering as a Member-at-Large for a year on CGDSD, I decided to take on the role as Blog and Podcast Editor because I wanted to engage with the perspectives and initiatives of different individuals in this field, and continue develop content that are impactful to the social justice and decolonization efforts within international education.
Lixing: I learned about ACPA and CGDSD in 2021. I chose the Blog and Podcast Editor role because I wanted to challenge myself and learn something new. I love reading people’s story and listening to the interviews very much. I believe sharing is empowering and I hope that more and more voice could be heard from our our platform to impact our audience. When I saw the role has opening, I started to imagine what I can do to improve the audience experience. Before this role, I have never used any video or audio editing software so this role let me learn the new skills.
Q: What does racial justice and decolonization mean to you, in the context of CGDSD’s mission and values?
Meena: Racial justice and decolonization means showing up to spaces authentically as myself, a Malaysian Indian, where I do not have to worry about filtering myself, wearing whatever I want which includes cultural pieces (i.e., bindi and Indian jewelry), and also inviting discourse around the topic with anyone. Racial justice and decolonization also means including an element of care and taking a trauma-informed approach in any interaction or work. These elements are in line with CGDSD’s mission and values as I am able to show up as myself unapologetically and facilitate student development in a decolonized manner.
Yi Xuen: It was not until 3 months earlier that I decided to reclaim my first name, Yi Xuen, rather than going by the most anglicized part of my name – Tay. This may seem insignificant, but this is an act of decolonization for my identity and presence as a Malaysian Chinese woman in the US, navigating a predominantly white system. To me, racial justice and decolonization in CGDSD’s mission and values means to redefine international education from a non-Eurocentric, white-centered American perspective.
Lixing: To me, racial justice and decolonization in the context of CGDSD’s mission and value is not only pursuing race equity but also caring every individual with different background. We need to keep in mind not to generalize the international population based on their race, country of origin or language they speak. We should respect every one’s identity and presence, and advocate for each other.
Q: What do you look forward to learning about as a Blog and Podcast Editor for Global Connections?
Meena: I anticipate fruitful conversations, interactions, and learning with other people within the profession as we invite them to share their research and/ or practice.
Yi Xuen: I look forward to learning the ways professionals, scholars, and students have defined social justice and decolonization within their own practice/research on international education.
Lixing: I look forward to learning more from people with different background and in different level of their profession in this field to share their stories either in writing via interview. I hope that via our platform, we could have cultural communication and discussion on some specific topics in higher education and inspire our audience to think or maybe join our future conversation.
Later this month, CGDSD is excited to launch a series of episodes and blog posts focusing on the topic of global careers. This series will focus on the career development of international students, the career experiences of visa holding individuals in higher education and student affairs, as well as global careers in higher education.
We will continue to release new Global Connections episodes and CGDSD blog posts once a month. Be sure to subscribe to the CGDSD newsletter for latest episodes, blogs, and upcoming events.