A Chapter on Student Mobility in Asia-Pacific

During October, I was in the thick of the internship. I was working on the database, preparing documents and presentations for my manager, proof-reading submitted case studies for a UNESCO publication, and writing UNESCO’s chapter submission to a book about Higher Education Internationalization in Malaysia. 

Initially, my manager turned down his friend’s offer to submit a UNESCO perspective chapter to an upcoming book about higher education in Malaysia. However, when he recognized my interest in the topic he later accepted his friend’s request for a submission and assigned me to write the chapter. I was glad to do it.

I feel comfortable writing, ironically I feel more comfortable writing than spelling 

The task of writing the chapter wasn’t an issue, but as this was my first time writing with UNESCO’s voice and political sensitivities the challenge was to write the chapter for myself, my audience, and as a representative of UNESCO. The period of writing the chapter and balancing my other projects, going to the gym, eating, and at the time taking Thai lessons turned was the busiest month of the internship. It also coincided with our first conferences and what became my active involvement in speaking at these conferences. 

Except for when I passed my school papers to my friends, this chapter was the first time that I had my writing reviewed by a publisher. The publisher’s only comment was to have us include more about Malaysia. The many iterations of feedback between myself and my manager brought insights on how to write as an institution that takes the longview and big picture prespective on world peace, education development, and equality…. especially on a topic wealth and privilege dominated as higher education. 

The final deliverable was a chapter in a book that summarizes the flow of international students from Asia first to the religious institutions of ancient Asia, than to the “thought factories” of the colonial metropolis, onward to the “developed” world, and now Asian international students are facing the re-emergence of Asia as a destination for advanced higher learning. The chapter later detailed where UNESCO saw itself and its future strategy within the changing current of international student flows. 

I guess the learning from this period was the time management tool of OODA loops detailed in a previous post. The patience of going through many many iterations of feedback was an important work characteristic to enhance.Also the business of period stretched by mono-tasking brain to be more multi-tasking. I realized what a productivity limitation I have with my rather mono-tasking head space. I think that my experience in working at UNESCO has truly given me solid experience in feedback and understanding the nature of collaborative work. 

Abstract of the chapter below

ABSTRACT: This chapter concerns UNESCO’s strategy to support student mobility in Asia and the Pacific. The chapter summarizes past and present trends that impact regional student mobility, and provides an overview of UNESCO’s humanistic perspective on student mobility. The chapter highlights how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) support student mobility and argues that the 2011 Asia-Pacific Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education provides a means to help achieve the SDGs. The chapter details how UNESCO’s five functions support mobility and recognition and recommends multi-sector advocacy, awareness building, and south-to-south scholarships in order to encourage Member States to ratify the Convention and subsequently improve the quality of life for mobile students and their host nations.


A typical workstation at UNESCO Bangkok

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