Skip to content

News and features

Meet the 2023-2024 UW COIL Fellows

The Office of Global Affairs is excited to announce that ten faculty members have been selected as 2023-2024 UW COIL Fellows!

COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) is a virtual exchange pedagogy that fosters global competence through development of a multicultural learning environment, linking university classes in different countries. Using both synchronous and asynchronous technologies, students from different countries complete shared assignments and projects, with instructors from each country co-teaching and managing coursework.

Building on several years of collaboration between the UW Bothell and UW Tacoma campuses, the 2023-2024 UW COIL Fellows will be, for the first time, a tri-campus program. The program will span two years:

  • Winter 2023-Spring 2023 will focus on course development
  • Summer 2023-Summer 2024 and beyond will focus on implementation

The 2023-2024 UW COIL Fellows are:

Nicole Blair

TLIT 240 Studies In English Literature

UW Tacoma

Heidi Gough

BSE 420 Bioresource Engineering, BSE 210 Concepts in Bioproducts Sustainability or ESRM 426 Wildland Hydrology

UW Seattle

Sunita Iyer

BCORE 107/Discovery Core I: Mental Health & Student Life- Integrating Well Being & Academics

UW Bothell

Alka Kurian

BISGWS 301: Critical Gender and Sexuality Studies or BISCLA 380: World Literatures

UW Bothell

Tyson Marsh

B EDUC 502 – Identity and Reflective Practice and B EDUC 504 – Enacting Agency for Social Justice

UW Bothell

Jed Murr

BIS 379: American Ethnic Literatures

UW Bothell

Yixuan Pan

Interdisciplinary art, social practice art (course TBD)

UW Tacoma

Jeff Walters

TCE 484: Sustainable Environmental Systems

UW Tacoma

Yen-Chu Weng

ENVIR 430 Environmental Issues: Regional Perspectives (cross-listed with JSIS 484 Special Topics in East Asian Studies)

UW Seattle

Maureen West

BCORE 107/Discovery Core I: Mental Health & Student Life- Integrating Well Being & Academics

UW Bothell

March 2 Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Panel

Thursday, March 2 // 4:30-5:30 PM PT

Photo of a Peace Corps Volunteer on a swing and information about the upcoming eventAre you curious about what it’s like to serve in the Peace Corps?

Learn more about the Peace Corps and hear stories about the challenging, rewarding, and inspirational moments from four Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. The panel will share their lived experiences and discuss how they navigated their intersecting identities during their service abroad.

Join us in-person at Mary Gates Hall or on Zoom!

Already applied for the Peace Corps, not sure if the Peace Corps is right for you, or somewhere in between? All are welcome!

This free event is co-hosted by UW Peace Corps Recruiter and UW Office of Global Affairs.

Register Now

The UW is a Top Producer of Fulbright U.S. Students and Scholars for 2022-2023

The University of Washington made the Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of the top Fulbright producing institutions. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar and Fulbright U.S. Student Programs are sponsored by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to support academic exchanges between the United States and over 150 countries around the world.

Ten students and eight scholars at the UW received Fulbright awards for the 2022-2023 academic year to study, teach, lecture, or conduct research in Bahrain, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Germany, Iceland, India, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. The Fulbright experience gives students and scholars the opportunity to live and work abroad, learning about their host country and developing a new community of colleagues and friends. These programs are designed to help participants gain a greater understanding of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, ultimately promoting an atmosphere of openness and mutual understanding.

About the Fulbright Program

Founded in 1946, the Fulbright Program is an international academic exchange program that aims to increase mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The UW is proud to have had Fulbright recipients as far back as 1949.

About the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards

The Fulbright application process is supported by the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards (OMSFA). OMSFA works with campus partners across the UW to identify and support promising candidates in developing the skills and personal insights necessary to become strong candidates for this and other prestigious awards.

Learn More


Spring 2023 Course: Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The Office of Global Affairs and Population Health Initiative are partnering to offer a one credit General Studies course that will introduce students to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, research at the University of Washington aligned with those goals, and the role the goals play in improving population health, societies, and the environment, both locally and globally.

Registration opens February 10, 2023! 

Visit our website to see the course overview, details, learning goals, and facilitators.

Learn More

Global Visionaries: Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario

The Office of Global Affairs is excited to celebrate Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario for our December 2022 edition of the Global Visionaries series. The Global Visionaries series highlights the University of Washington’s global impact by featuring innovative, globally-engaged faculty, staff, and students.

Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario standing outside in a red dress
Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario in Peru

Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario, Director, UW Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health, Associate Professor, Pediatric Dentistry, Adjunct Associate Professor, Global Health describes her vision for advancing global oral health in Thailand, Kenya, Peru, and Washington State through collaborative, sustainable, and cross-disciplinary research partnerships.

Dr. Seminario obtained her DDS and Pediatric Dentistry certificate from Cayetano Heredia University (Peru) before earning her PhD in Stomatology from Charles University (Czech Republic) and MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Washington. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and is also Director of UW International Visiting (Pediatric) Dentist Program and on staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital Dental Medicine.

Learn More

Tell us about your background and experience.

I am originally from Chiclayo, a city in the northwest of Peru. After finishing high school, I moved to Lima, where I earned my DDS degree and Pediatric Dentistry certificate from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. I then pursued a fantastic opportunity to participate in a four-month fellowship in public health at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, where I learned about the importance of understanding how policies impact public health at community and country levels. I decided to stay in Prague for an additional four years to complete my PhD in Stomatology. From there I had the chance to participate in two fellowships; the first one at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and the second one at the World Health Organization Oral Health Program in Geneva, Switzerland.

After finishing my doctorate program, I moved to Seattle, Washington and began my life in the United States. I was accepted to the Summer Institute in Clinical Dental Research Methods, a six-week training program hosted by the University of Washington School of Dentistry. I fell in love with the summer weather in Seattle. I remember it was the middle of July and I was so impressed by the beauty of Mount Rainier and the Puget Sound. After the Summer Institute, I was recruited by Timothy DeRouen and enrolled in the T32 program that is part of the National Institutes of Health training for postdocs. I was also recruited by the University of Washington Department of Pediatric Dentistry to be an affiliate faculty, later becoming part-time faculty, and eventually full-time faculty. In 2008, I decided to pursue an MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Washington. It was an incredible opportunity for my professional growth as the program is very strong in research methodology and evidence-based research and gave me the chance to mentor residents on their research projects.

What is your vision for the DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health?
“It takes a lot of time to build trust among partners and we want to make sure that we have a sustainable impact at all of our research sites.”

In 2017, I was asked to lead and rebrand the UW Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health, which was named in honor of Timothy DeRouen, the first researcher to receive a NIH D43 grant for oral health from the National Institutes of Health. This type of grant aims at increasing research capacities in low- and middle-income countries by creating training opportunities like master or doctorate degrees. One of the first things I did as Director of the DeRouen Center was to examine our existing global relationships. I decided to expand our activities beyond Thailand and Southeast Asia to include Kenya, Peru, and Washington State.

My vision is for the DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health and the University of Washington to become a reference site for global oral health. I am striving for us to become a World Health Organization collaborative center for oral health in the future. It takes a lot of time to build trust among partners and we want to make sure that we have a sustainable impact at all of our research sites. Our long-term goal is for our international partner sites to become the headquarters for oral health research activities in their respective regions around the world.

In my opinion, it is imperative that our research is determined by the priorities of each of our research locations. We take the lead from the communities we are working in, which aligns with the University of Washington’s approach for engaging with low- and middle-income countries. We intentionally work to ensure that our research projects will be sustainable over time. We are excited that our partners, especially the senior collaborators, are working hard to mentor junior oral health researchers and offer training and educational opportunities so that they can become future leaders, such as National Institutes of Health Principal Investigators and grant holders.

Tell us about your current work in Kenya, Peru, and Thailand.
Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario with colleagues in Eldoret, Kenya
Eldoret, Kenya

In Kenya, we began working with Professor Arthur Kemoli, a pediatric dentist and orthodontist based at the United Nations. We started this work focusing on how we could integrate oral health within the HIV network. We are helping the families of children who are living with HIV, or who have been exposed to HIV, to better understand oral health and how that impacts the quality of life of their children. We initiated different projects and got several grants to work with the Kenyatta National Hospital. Currently we are also working in Kisumu in Western Kenya where I will be visiting for two weeks in February 2023 for the kickoff of our clinical trial. Additionally, we have an NIH D71 planning grant to set up a research site and will be conducting interviews and facilitating focus groups too.

In Peru, we are working with the Peruvian Ministry of Health. They would like to increase the capabilities of oral health leaders who work in the 24 regions of Peru to

Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario examining the mouth of a patient in Peru
Amazon, Peru

develop sustainable interventions. We conducted a six-month training session that finished a few months ago. We are now serving in an advisory role as they design a five-year campaign to improve the oral health of elderly people living with diabetes.

We also have a National Institutes of Health grant, in collaboration with Yale University, concerning the impact of alcohol use disorders on the oral health of men who have sex with men in Lima. This is a new research area for us. We have just collected the data and are starting to analyze it. We are excited to be working with the local research site, a long-time member of the International National Institutes of Health vaccine network, on their first project focused on oral health.

In Thailand, we originally focused on increasing the research capacity of oral health researchers. The emphasis was on research methodology and on supporting junior faculty who were pursuing MPH and PhD programs in combination with the University of Washington and who would eventually take on leadership roles as Associate Deans or professors to conduct and oversee future research projects. Current research in Thailand is based on our former trainees and now oral health researchers, for example oral clefts, given the high prevalence rates in the region, or on the impact of breastfeeding on dental caries in toddlers.

How have you been improving oral health for refugees in Washington State?
“Our ultimate goal is to use our data to advocate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the integration of oral health at all seven clinics in Washington State when assessing the health of refugees.”

In Washington State, we want to integrate oral health within the comprehensive medical assessment that refugees receive soon after they resettle here. We have been working closely with the Department of Health, the Department of Community and Human Services, and the Washington State Health Care Authority since they are very interested in improving the health of refugees. Currently, seven clinics are allowed by Washington State to conduct the comprehensive medical assessment that each refugee must complete after their arrival.

We have been working with those seven clinics to better understand their systems and processes. We have identified their barriers and strengths so we can inform them how best to integrate oral health. Our ultimate goal is to use our data to advocate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the integration of oral health at all seven clinics in Washington State when assessing the health of refugees. We also hope to educate and inform refugees in Washington State about their Medicaid benefits, given that refugee children have full access to any oral health treatment and refugee adults have access to basic dental care.

What professional achievements are you most proud of?
“I am incredibly grateful that the UW is an institution that promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration.”

A highlight of my career has been serving as Director of the DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health. I feel very lucky to work at the University of Washington. I have found the UW to be very welcoming to an immigrant like myself. I am incredibly grateful that the UW is an institution that promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration. I have found that the university encourages faculty to interact with colleagues from different schools, departments, and colleges to build sustainable relationships and research partnerships that result in rich, robust, and diverse perspectives.

Other highlights include watching my mentees become authors of manuscripts. It amazes me to see my mentees grow professionally. I am also proud of the relationships I have maintained with my colleagues and former professors in Peru. I have been fortunate in many ways and feel that it is my responsibility to give back, whether that be through helping to set up grants in communities across Peru or by working with my mentees to assist them in becoming Principal Investigators. I recently got the opportunity to travel to Peru and reconnect with my former professors. It was delightful to reflect on everything that we have accomplished in our respective academic networks over the years.

Gayle Christensen to serve as interim Vice Provost for Global Affairs

Gayle ChristensenThe Office of Global Affairs is pleased to announce that Gayle Christensen has agreed to serve as interim Vice Provost for Global Affairs beginning July 1, 2023, stepping in for Jeff Riedinger who is retiring from the UW next summer. The next UW Provost will conduct a search and select a new Vice Provost for Global Affairs.

As Associate Vice Provost for Global Affairs since 2016, Dr. Christensen manages global engagement and business operations and directs strategic priorities, working collaboratively with colleges, schools and centers across the UW to further their global efforts. She is also an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the College of Education and has taught graduate courses in leadership and globalization of higher education.

Prior to joining the UW in 2014, Dr. Christensen spent a decade working in international education. At the University of Pennsylvania, she served as the inaugural Executive Director for Penn Global. There, she developed a range of initiatives aimed at strengthening Penn’s global engagement.

As an expert in comparative education, Dr. Christensen has served as a consultant and researcher in the U.S. and abroad for organizations including the World Bank, Urban Institute and the Bertelsmann Foundation. Her recent research has focused on the study abroad as a high impact practice. Previously, her research focused on the global reach of Massive Open Online Courses and has appeared in such publications as Nature and The Atlantic and online at SlateHer research has been featured across major media outlets including Harvard Business ReviewThe Chronicle of Higher EducationThe New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She holds a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a master’s and doctoral degree from Stanford University.

Global Visionaries: Dr. Dan Zhu

The Office of Global Affairs is excited to celebrate Dr. Dan Zhu for our October 2022 edition of the Global Visionaries series. The Global Visionaries series is a new initiative to highlight the University of Washington’s global impact by featuring innovative, globally-engaged faculty, staff, and students.

Dr. Dan Zhu in front of a lake

Dr. Dan Zhu began working as the International Engagement Specialist at the VP’s Office of Student Life Division at the UW in November 2015. This position afforded Dan the opportunity to build Unite UW, an on-campus cultural exchange program that has connected 1,800 domestic and international students since its launch.

In September 2019, Dan became Assistant Director of CIRCLE (Center for International Relations and Cultural Leadership Exchange), a new center that serves as a resource hub and a home away from home for 8,000+ international students at UW. One of her accomplishments includes creating Regional Connection Groups, a summer program that connects and onboards international undergraduates before they arrive on campus.

Unite UW

Tell us about your background and experience.
“All of these experiences have helped me grow to become a better educator. And looking back, I loved every bit of it.”

Born and raised in a small village in South China, I learned how to make the best out of the little that I had. After graduating from Beijing Normal University in 2005 as a first gen, I became a middle school English teacher in Beijing. My parents were disappointed because by becoming a teacher, I destroyed their only hope to bring fortune and fame to the family. However, I was more disappointed at China’s testing-oriented education which, in my opinion, squelched kids’ motivations to learn.

Three years later, after I won an “important” teaching competition, the school in Beijing sent me to Edinburgh as a reward to teach Chinese language and culture. During that year, while I got to show a more authentic China through the lived experience of my friends and family to the 400+ Scottish pupils and teachers in my hosting school, my eyes were also opened to many exciting ways to teach and to inspire. Besides whisky and Ceilidh dance, I learned so many wonderful things from my Scottish friends and mentors, including new perspectives of life and of the world.

Holding onto those new learnings, I believed the world would become bigger if I allowed myself to see more. That’s how I came to the U.S. in 2009, specifically to the University of Washington in Seattle, to pursue graduate school in Education (M.Ed.), in TESOL (M.A.), and later in English Composition (Ph.D.). Much more than the degrees themselves, I tutored students from Japan and South Korea, volunteered to teach seniors from minority backgrounds to pass their citizenship interviews, taught after school Chinese immersion classes with small children, and substitute taught with many other instructors’ lesson plans. I also learned about discrimination in Education first hand: imagine me teaching ESL to students who only want to learn from native English speakers; or imagine a Chinese lady teaching American college students how to write in English.

What inspired you to launch Unite UW?
“Unite UW has evolved into today’s equal partnership program to provide a mutually-enriching global experience in a local setting.”

A better question to ask is, who inspired me to launch Unite UW? The answer is that students inspired me. When I was teaching first-year composition at the UW from 2012 to 2016, students shared many of their struggles at my office hours. It seemed that the UW they were experiencing was siloed and disconnected. Many struggled to fit in or to find belonging. I also observed many UW classes as part of my dissertation. Often times, I would see a very diverse class with students from different backgrounds, but deep down (e.g. during peer reviews), there was always this barrier keeping them from truly connecting with one another, let alone appreciating each other. This invisible barrier made a lot of international students feel like guests on this campus rather than that they belonged.

Meanwhile, I interviewed the very first group of the Husky Presidential Ambassadors who just returned from Beijing for a mission to connect with incoming Chinese international students. From them, I found a strong desire to connect with international students and to gain cultural competency. It turns out, the Husky Presidential Ambassadors students were also desperate for a platform to encourage deep cultural exchange. As a matter of fact, they became the pioneers for this program and named it Unite UW.

From there, Unite UW has evolved into today’s equal partnership program to provide a mutually-enriching global experience in a local setting.  Through cultural exchange and bonding activities, domestic students gain different worldviews and enhance cultural competencies on one hand, while on the other hand, international students are introduced to American culture and feel valued and empowered to truly take ownership of their academic and social life here at the UW.

What kinds of workshops and events does Unite UW offer students each quarter?

Unite UW offers a variety of workshops and events that encourage cultural exchange, leadership building, resource sharing, and bonding. For example, as a tradition, Unite UW alumni make dumplings together to celebrate Lunar New Year. During the second week of the quarter, we take the entire cohort of 90 students (half domestic and half international) to UW’s Pack Forest Conference Center for a two-night weekend retreat. Besides various bonding activities, students spend Saturday engaged in Roundtable, a sharing circle where each student shares their personal stories and experiences that have shaped who they are.

According to student reflections, Roundtable has created “magic” moments when everyone is able to let their guard down and open up to each other. Roundtable creates a judgement-free space that blurs the divide between domestic and international students, as one student stated: “When we had that sharing circle at the weekend retreat I realized that despite our cultural differences, we were all united and similar in some way.”

What advice do you have for what we can do to step outside our comfort zone and build relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds?
“Our cultures and backgrounds are part of the stories we tell, and if we’re open to hearing these stories, they become points of connections.” Unite UW Alum, Fall 2017

My advice is to be vulnerable and to really listen! Having listened to more than 20 quarters or hundreds of roundtable stories, I have learned that vulnerability is strength, not weakness.

Our students have translated this for us beautifully:  At the Unite UW retreat, they often spend the entire Friday night learning everyone’s names. We are talking about 90+ students who were strangers a week prior. It can be very uncomfortable to forget or mispronounce some names, especially names from different cultures, let alone building connections with one another. But they keep on trying and learning throughout the retreat: listening to others’ stories, asking questions about their cultures and families, or sharing comments or connecting moments on sticky notes.

What are you most proud of about Unite UW as you reflect on the past seven years?

I am most proud of the good values that Unite UW has passed onto students: to listen, to understand, to include, to embrace, to support, and to love.

Having experienced Unite UW, students have seen the possibility of building strong bonds over differences. In other words, they don’t have to hide their true identities or alter themselves in order to fit in! Good friends or good partners embrace their differences and appreciate who they are. They have also become ambassadors of cultural diversity and inclusion, so wherever they go, they have a sense of responsibility to create a more connected and inclusive world.

Lastly, they have all learned about the importance of taking care of themselves and of looking out for others, by building a support system for themselves wherever they go and by making efforts to become part of others’ support system.

Tell us more about your future career goals. What are you looking forward to?

For the next few years, I will continue focusing on building a support system for UW’s international students. I did not feel that I had one when I was an international graduate student at the UW many years ago, so I made a promise to myself: I would build one if I ever had the opportunity. CIRCLE afforded me that opportunity, so I am very grateful. I am really looking forward to the day when this support system takes a good shape.

Excellence in Global Engagement Award

The Office of Global Affairs has created a new award to honor one faculty or staff member (in alternate years) for their global engagement. The Excellence in Global Engagement Award is unique in honoring a member of our community who is advancing the UW’s mission of global impact. The award focuses on teaching, research, and/or community building activities that connect UW students, faculty, and staff to global communities locally, nationally, and internationally. This year’s inaugural award will honor a UW faculty member.

Nominations due December 16, 2022 by 5:00 PM PT.

Nominate Now

UW COIL Fellows 2023

Apply now! The 2023 UW Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Fellows program will be, for the first time, a tri-campus program open to faculty who teach full-time at UW Bothell, UW Tacoma, or UW Seattle.

COIL -also known as international virtual exchange – is a virtual exchange pedagogy that fosters global competence through development of a multicultural learning environment, linking university classes in different countries. Using both synchronous and asynchronous technologies, students from different countries complete shared assignments and projects, with instructors from each country co-teaching and managing coursework.

The 2023 COIL Fellows program will span two years:

  • Winter-Spring 2023 will focus on course development
  • Summer 2023-Summer 2024 and beyond will focus on implementation

The application deadline has been extended until Wednesday, November 30, 2022.

Learn More and Apply


Global Visionaries: Dr. Anu Taranath

The Office of Global Affairs is excited to celebrate Dr. Anu Taranath for our September 2022 edition of the Global Visionaries series. The Global Visionaries series is a new initiative to highlight the University of Washington’s global impact by featuring innovative, globally-engaged faculty, staff, and students.

Dr. Anu Taranath sitting on colorful steps

Dr. Anu Taranath, teaching professor with a joint appointment in UW’s Departments of English and the Comparative History of Ideas, shares her experience advancing conversations on diversity, racial equity, social justice, and global consciousness.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Anu Taranath has taught more than 6,000 students, consulted with over 300 clients, and facilitated 1,000+ workshops across private, nonprofit, education, and public sectors.

Learn More

Tell us why undergraduate teaching matters to you.

When I first came to the UW back in 2000, I floundered. I wasn’t sure how I could be myself in the classroom. I didn’t see many BIPOC faculty, and didn’t quite know how to invite myself in fully. A few years down the line, I began to craft classes, programs, and experiences based upon my own curiosities. This approach of teaching what I wanted to learn resulted in a more engaged pedagogy and curriculum for both my students and I that felt fresh and relevant. Over the years students have shared how they’ve appreciated me openly wonder and grapple with topics alongside them. Modeling wonder and curiosity feels really different than how I had been educated. I am eternally grateful that my first few years at UW taught me to explore new pathways toward warmth and wonder, to reimagine what it means to belong, and to be collegial and create community with my students.

How did you get involved in study abroad?

Back in 2003, I stopped by the Comparative History of Ideas Department on a whim and said, “I’m curious about leading study abroad programs. Can you tell me more?” I wanted to explore international education opportunities in the Global South to further my post-colonial feminist scholarship, and introduce students to change-makers from communities and countries they might never meet. I’ve found that being a program director isn’t, of course, just about balancing budgets or planning logistics. This work, actually, is all about cultivating relationships, building trust, sharing stories, and being accountable to one another across identities and vast global power differentials. How do I, as a woman of color faculty member from a powerful US institution, create reciprocal relationships with my global partners that move from transactional and extractive to collaborative and reciprocal? My relationships with partners in India, Mexico, Ghana, and several other countries are some of the richest and most belonging-worthy spaces that I have experienced in my career.

Tell us about your book, Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World.

My book grew out of my own experiences and conversations I had been having with students for years. Students who I knew and students who I did not know would line up during office hours to talk with me about their global experiences. They were eager to talk about race, power, identity, how to think through their privileges traveling abroad and what they should do when they come back home. I started wondering why is it that those deeper but fundamental conversations feel really absent from the mainstream conversation on study abroad, travel, and the politics of connecting across difference? I took to heart Toni Morrison’s quote, “If there’s a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Navigating an unequal world both close to home and far away can feel confusing when we consider issues of justice, power, identity, who we are and who we are not. We can easily fall into social and ethical quagmires without always knowing how to extricate ourselves. My book supports readers through these moments.

I’ve also written this book in an accessible and story-centered way to invite people in and keep them in the conversation. That’s how we develop our stamina, resilience, and empathy toward ourselves and others. As I worked on this book, I learned that accessible writing requires some seriously sophisticated thinking! While I’ve appreciated my previous academic training in theory and specialized jargon, I’ve also appreciated the challenge to write about complex topics in more simple language and move from abstract concepts to relatable stories. Many of us, of course, feel nervous to talk to people unlike us. We may feel scared, hurt or misunderstood. Sharing stories is key to inviting people to a table and helping them stay there. It takes invitations, connections, and trust-building in small and meaningful ways.

I’ve heard from readers that if they had read this book 6 months, 2 years or 30 years ago– when they were first grappling with topics of identity, race, difference and justice– they wouldn’t have felt as lost or confused. With more tools and space to share their feelings, they wouldn’t have displaced that confusion onto those they were traveling with or on to local people in the communities they were visiting. I’d rather we learn how to navigate our complex feelings so we can have more honest and healing interactions with one another.

What can we do to deepen our comfort with uncomfortable topics?
“Let’s be more real with one another and step into our vulnerability with strength.”

The ability to name something as uncomfortable is an important action step that we can take. Let’s also understand why we experience discomfort and how that might affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. That’s how we begin to create new patterns for ourselves. Try though we may, we simply cannot sidestep the hard stuff. We have to figure out how to move through uncomfortable conversations with more grace, compassion and elasticity so that we can rebuild ourselves along the way and continue on our journeys. Instead of pretending not to feel our difficult feelings, why not say out loud that we all feel them? Let’s relieve ourselves of the pressure of holding it all in. Let’s be more real with one another and step into our vulnerability with strength. How else are we going to come together to actually make life more livable not only for the most marginalized, but for you or I who may enjoy more privileges as well?

I have found over the years that we have to grapple with some of these seemingly more personal and hard to pin down topics before we jump into conversations about policy and procedures. We need to understand how we came to be who we are, how inequity and opportunity lands on us differently, and what that means for all of us as we live our lives. These discussions have everything to do with creating policy, promoting justice, and cultivating a more inclusive, democratic and vibrant space. Acknowledging the fear, hurt and discomfort that we all experience because of our different lived experiences is a huge part of the process.

How do you approach conversations about power and privilege?
“I use welcoming and non-shaming language, make space for big emotions, and if possible, create gatherings over snacks and a good cup of chai.”

As an educator and facilitator, I strive to approach conversations about power and privilege with humility. I use welcoming and non-shaming language, make space for big emotions, and if possible, create gatherings over snacks and a good cup of chai. These to me are the key ingredients we need to talk and act better together. All of us deserve to feel a deep sense of belonging and worthiness. My work helps us talk, share, and hold space together to connect more authentically and create more equitable changes in society.

How can we cultivate our interest and curiosity in other people’s stories?

These days, sharing our stories across different kinds of differences may feel risky. We may feel as if we’ve given too much of ourselves away, or that our story hasn’t been respected or held with care. No wonder we tend to retreat into circles that feel more familiar and that we think of as safe.

There’s definitely something gratifying about not having to explain ourselves to others, especially due to the harm and hate of the last several years. That’s why “safe spaces” matter. An important thing to note, however, is that communities that are like us are not always safe, and that crossing boundaries and connecting with others from different communities is not always unsafe. We live in complex times. So many of us crave more honest and productive conversations about all these complicated issues.

What if we had more incentive to talk with each other openly, vulnerably, with curiosity and wonder? How might we incentivize that? What might that look and feel like? I have seen and experienced how beautiful it can be to share parts of ourself and receive someone else’s sharing. Those small, lovely moments in our lives stay with us. When we stitch such moments together, I think we create a more meaningful life.

Tell us about your partnerships with global philanthropy and global health organizations, the travel industry, and international education programs.

My book, Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World, has opened up new and exciting associations with people in multiple sectors. People who are looking to deepen their analysis and activism around diversity, equity, and inclusion, racial equity, anti-racism, intersectionality and difference within the U.S. often find me and my book. Since I also focus on how colonial dynamics in the Global North and Global South impact the politics of international help and aid, I am working more with people in global health, international NGOs, the development industry, and the travel industry. My career feels incredibly rich because I have been able to interact with people across sectors. It’s made me stretch in new and surprising ways.

Though these partnerships, I’ve come to realize how crucial it is to pause, consider, and step away from the day-to-day busyness to reflect with colleagues and ourselves. These are the moments where we grow and learn. Much of the consultancy work that I do with groups and organizations is to give them permission to learn in new ways. I affirm how important it is to carve out structured time to pause, reflect, reconsider, and come back together. In our urgent, competitive, product-oriented professional culture, being able to slow down to value the process of collective story-sharing and collaborative learning is nothing less than revolutionary.

What are you most proud of and what are you looking forward to about your career?

That’s an easy question: I am most proud of my collaborations and I am most looking forward to new collaborations! My understanding of collaboration is quite expansive. I mean the undergraduate students with whom I have learned alongside, the people in the community whose grief and joy I have been able to stand beside and hold in different moments, the collaborators in different parts of the world where we have built trust and connection, and the partnerships across various industries. All this synergy feels magical to me, and has enlivened my life and work immeasurably. My career is certainly my story, but my story is also connected to many other people’s stories. People who have come before me, people who have enriched my life, and people I hope I am able to continue collaborating with in small and big ways.