This past November, Siena College hosted this year’s EVOLVE: Study Abroad Returnee Conference. The daylong event is hosted annually for students in the Capital Region to share their abroad experiences. They are then encouraged to translate what they have learned during their travels into skills which can benefit them academically, professionally and personally. Working together with talented professionals who have spent their lives traveling, demonstrates to the returnees that their abroad experience does not need to end in college but can continue in there career and leisure. The conference is designed to help students “Return, Reboot, and Refocus” to get back to exploring the world.
The day kicked off with Keynote speaker, Evita Turquoise Robinson, an avid traveler, a TED Talk speaker, and Founder and CEO of NOMADNESS Travel Tribe. This company is a worldwide online community specifically geared for travelers of color. It is her goal to diversify the demographic of people who participate in mainstream travel. On the company’s website, she states, “Our mission is to show the world that travel has no racial, gender, religious, economic, or interest limitations through our community representation and relevancy.” Robinson’s speech described her uncontrollable desire to travel and how we must live everyone moment to its fullest. She demonstrated her boldness by taking any job or opportunity that would allow her to travel. This resilient drive eventually led her to develop NOMADNESS. What started out as a small group of travelers turned into a community of over 20,000 people responsible for an annual $50,000,000 dollars being injected into the travel industry. Robinson truly set the stage for what is possible to achieve once students apply the skills they have learned from travel.
Multiple seminars were offered during the event ranging in topics about communicating with nonverbal language to attending grad school abroad. The conference combined encouraging future world travel aspirations as well as reminding the attendees of their past experiences and exciting memories of being abroad. Megan Kelly ’19 found the sessions to be her favorite part of the conference, stating, “My favorite part of the event was a workshop that taught me how to share my study abroad story to an employer in a professional and enlightening way.” The seminars not only allowed the returnees to learn from professionals but other students as well. There were sessions inspired by TedTALKS which allowed students to present what they have learned from their experiences abroad. It was enlightening to hear the perspectives of other students on their travels and how their experiences compared to your own.
Often times after students return from being abroad, they do not apply the important skills they have learned to their life back in the states. The EVOLVE Conference reminded the returnees of those valuable experiences and curates them into something marketable. Kelly explained, “I believe that events like the EVOLVE conference are meant to inspire students to try new things and use their knowledge and experiences to better themselves.” The event opened many doors to consider in the future while also allowing you to share in your experiences in the past.
If you are interested in NOMADNESS Travel Tribe, visit its website at: https://www.nomadnesstv.com/.