Webinar: Virtual Exchange and the Coronavirus Pandemic: Where are We Now?

Event Details
  • Date

    August 30, 2022

  • Time

    12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    U.S. Eastern Time

  • Location


In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a huge demand for international virtual exchange programming to connect young people during a time of disruption and isolation. With parents, educators, and young people experiencing burnout and “Zoom fatigue” after months of continued disruption, demand for virtual exchange and virtual learning waned. Nearly a year after schools, courses, and exchanges have returned to in-person education and programming, what is the state of virtual exchange? Why does virtual exchange remain important two years into a pandemic? Educators and virtual exchange implementers will talk about the need and demand for virtual exchange, challenges and successes, and what they envision for the future.

Olga Aksakalova, PhD serves as Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, where she also coordinates the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program. As a recipient of the Scaling grant from the Stevens Initiative, she also serves as Director of the virtual exchange program Global Scholars Achieving Career Success. Her research focuses on the program administration and pedagogy of virtual exchange in community colleges, transnational writing programs, and autobiography studies. 

Dr. Lisa Peele is currently the Director of Cultural Arts and Global Leadership in the Onslow County School System. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Music and Master of School Administration degree, both from East Carolina University, and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She was born in eastern North Carolina and began her career in Pamlico County Schools, serving as an elementary and middle school music and choral teacher. She also served Pamlico County High as an assistant principal. Dr. Peele is proud to have served in Onslow County Schools for the past 16 years as an assistant principal, principal, and Director of Cultural Arts & Global Leadership.  Dr. Peele has presented at local, state, and national level events/conferences, provided professional development to educators locally, and continues to work as an advocate for cultural and global education initiatives.

Andie Shafer is a Program Manager at the Stevens Initiative, where she oversees the Initiative’s grant portfolio. During her time with the Initiative, Andie has supported over 40 virtual exchange programs and brings a bird’s-eye view of the virtual exchange landscape to her work with partners. Andie also supports the evaluation of grant programs and helps practitioners build capacity to scale their programming. Andie previously worked with the Aspen Institute’s Middle East Program, where she focused on education, vocational training, and entrepreneurship in North Africa. Andie spent time on the Obama reelection campaign in 2012, advancing events for the President, prior to her time at the Aspen Institute. Andie, a proud Michigander, holds a B.A. in public policy from the University of Michigan. She is based in Seattle.

Dr. Kristin Tassin is a high school history teacher with over a decade of experience in teaching and curriculum development. Her classes focus on increasing students’ global awareness and cultural competency. She has authored original curricula on World History, Human Geography, and Middle Eastern History; and has served as a subject-matter and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion educational consultant. Her academic background is in Middle Eastern History with a special emphasis on Modern Egypt.