Students Discuss Conference Experiences

Towards the end of the Fall 2017 semester, graduate students in international education at UMass Amherst organized a session to share their experiences in professional conferences they had attended during the semester.


In October, Lina Heaster-Ekholm (left), Sahara Pradhan (below right), and Larissa Chekmareva participated in the 2017 CIES Symposium on Interrogating and innovating CIE research at George Mason University.


Lina and Sahara had presented a paper on The messy discourse of menstrual hygiene management and its relationship with girls’ schooling. Their presentation was a critical reflection on the representation of the “Third World” girl figure, which can be problematic in these campaigns. They discussed how they used images and videos to make their presentation more media-rich than is sometimes the case.


All three found the Symposium to be a positive experience, with the plenaries in particular being interesting both in format and in content, where speakers and participants were able to interact with each other and discuss the various topics. They also reflected on the theme of decolonizing methodologies and what this could mean for the international education program at UMass Amherst. Sahara and Larissa shared plans for an independent study which other students could also undertake.  


Kayla Boisvert shared her experience attending American Evaluation Association conferences in the recent years, and how contacts made at the conference helped in her research. At the 2017 meeting in Washington DC, she presented her paper on Learning for adaptation: A case study on the effectiveness of using developmental evaluation for adaptive management in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.


Kayla had worked with Catalytic Communities, an NGO working with favela residents to fight evictions during the lead up to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They used the “outcome harvesting” methodology to identify outcomes and connect those outcomes with adaptive management practices used in the NGO, such as learning from feedback loops and being locally led.


She also discussed a useful online resource,, for those interested in learning more about different approaches to evaluation.


Finally, Larissa Chekmareva shared information about two other meetings she had attended, the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) conference in Houston, Texas on Power to the people, which she found very inspiring, with many high quality presentations, and our own UMass Amherst College of Education graduate student conference on Empowering education, organized by students with the support of faculty.