TIE | Black Lives Matter





“You have to get over the fear of facing the worst in yourself. You should instead fear unexamined racism. Fear the thought that right now, you could be contributing to the oppression of others and you don’t know it. But do not fear those who bring that oppression to light. Do not fear the opportunity to do better.” 
― Ijeoma Oluo, 
So You Want to Talk About Race



Now is the time for us to move beyond contrived statements and to assert action to solidify our collective identity. Now is the time for us to seek the opportunity to learn and not be silent. We therefore call on every stakeholder in international education to committing to action and making our community more socially just. What does the international education community need to do now?


We commit to:


-acknowledge that Black Lives Matter and the racialized experiences, though not a monolith, of people of African descent, regardless of country of origin are shared and felt.


-speak up now about racism and all forms of discrimination in international education as well as how these experiences are perpetuated in international spaces.


-tackle the eradication of racism at all levels including but not limited to (boards, recruitment, accreditation, graduate programs, schools, parents) become aware of our racial and cultural blind-spots by reading about, listening to, collaborating with and implementing sustainable anti-racist practices by championing the voices and contributions of racially and ethnically diverse educators. Focus on anti-racism work.


-have school and organization plans focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion that is co-created with our community.  Commit to partnering with community members that are closest to the problem as they are usually closest to the solution.


-challenge Whiteness, and even White Supremacy, in all its subtle and overt forms. For white educators, we acknowledge benefiting from privilege and structures of oppression against people of color, and we stand now to become part of the solution despite and in spite of current racialized incidents. We commit to become a part of the solution even when political and racial unrest are not at the forefront of the news cycle.


-actively ally with, amplify, and mentor educators of color who come from all parts of the globe. Aspire to be co-conspirators.


-educate our students and parents about the value of racial and ethnic diversity through our conversations, curriculum, and school-community workshops.


-support those international education organizations committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Finally, we ask what do you want to see? What topics do you want to discuss? Who do you want to hear from? What do you want to learn more about? We invite you to participate in our Free Virtual Conference focused on representation, social justice, and equity studies in international education during 14-15 November 2020? To keep the conversation going please add your thoughts, ideas, and questions here: https://padlet.com/kdsl2007/ga6oin5r650qelw2

 Join us at www.aieloc.org and email us at aieloc2019@gmail.com.

Dr. Ashley Hazelwood, AIELOC Fellow

Kevin Simpson, AIELOC Founder

Take the AIELOC Equity Pledge

What if all international schools and leaders…?



What if all international schools and leaders…?



consistently celebrated diversity, fostered equity, and supported inclusion?


removed historical legacies and systemic barriers in the international education space that have been created​?


consistently committed to listening to and learning from diverse voices, experiences, and perspectives?


created and participated in courageous conversations and spaces that encouraged dialogue and the exchange of ideas?


spoke up now about racism and all forms of discrimination in international education and around the world?


became aware of racial and cultural blind-spots by reading about, listening to, and collaborating with racially and ethnically diverse educators?


focused on anti-racism work?


challenged whiteness and white supremacy?


were co-conspirators?


actively amplified and mentored educators of all colors who come from all parts of the globe?


said and believed #BlackLivesMatter?


Join us #IntlEducatorEquity

COVID-19 is Testing Our Bandwidth

It has been 8 weeks since I started self-quarantine in my small apartment in Beijing, on January 26th, 2020. My school began online education on February 10th after having about two weeks to prepare teaching and learning policies, and to clearly communicate to all stakeholders what the ensuing weeks of online learning would (hopefully) look like. We had no idea how long that would last, and our current prognosis is a possible return to face-to-face learning in mid-April. I imagine, however, it won’t be that early as China now fears a second wave of cases as things slowly return to normal and people outside China return to the nation.


China has been both praised and pummeled for its response to COVID-19, with pundits, politicians, and average citizens around the globe weighing in on China’s social, educational, and political norms typically not fully comprehended even by those who live in this country of 1.4 billion people, both citizens and expatriates. From an insider perspective, I at least can attest to the safety and security I have felt over two months under quarantine, and since the last two weeks I now have a personal Chinese “community volunteer” from a local bureau who calls or texts me to ask about my health. She is ordered, as are other volunteers, to check on the well-being of foreigners, both for our safety as well as that of Chinese citizens, as in the past few weeks, thousands of Chinese have repatriated, and foreigners have received the greenlight to return to the country. Nonetheless, headlines in the West, and particularly America, continue to ravage China for its handling of a crisis now under control here and which is waging its viral war in other countries around the world.

There are a number of lenses through which the current crisis in China, and now globally, can be viewed. Cybersecurity, a recent interest of mine, has received new attention as threat actors look for new ways to prey on the vulnerable. I wrote a post on LinkedIn over a month ago about how China is leading the first-ever and largest national online learning experiment the world has ever seen. Equity for students has been a concern in China, as hundreds of millions of students and teachers were forced to switch to online learning in far less time than other nations have had to prepare. The government took early steps to ensure the nation’s technology infrastructure could handle the explosive increase of users (i.e., students) on multiple devices and streaming live or recorded lessons. Francis Miller, Director of College Counseling at Xi’an Tie Yi High School in Shaanxi Province, recently wrote a short piece for the International Association for College Admission Counseling (ACAC). He stated that, although measures have been taken to provide equal access to students across the country, this should not be equated with democratizing education for all. Additionally, the sociological effects of extended quarantine are seen in increases in domestic violence and, already, an increase in filings for divorce.

With the spread of COVID-19 globally, attention has turned from China to new epicenters such as Italy, Iran, and Spain. In America, my passport country, debate has arisen over how, or even if, a shift to online learning can work in a country whose ideals of equity in education rightly also surround home access to the internet and even food for students who depend on 1-3 free meals per day at their school. Other social phenomena have arisen, too, ranging anywhere from toilet paper and hand-sanitizer hoarding to the cancellation of athletics and other forms of entertainment, like my go-to late night comedy shows.


What has persisted, but has morphed and evolved once again, is the discussion around race relations within and between countries, from the East to the West. COVID-19 is the official designation of the novel coronavirus which found its epicenter in Wuhan, China. At the beginning of February, when COVID-19 was only “China’s problem,” I posted an opinion article on LinkedIn reporting the imminent fear that Chinese, and Asians generally, were likely to experience regarding discrimination, racism, and xenophobia—take your pick of words, each of them apply. Many were worried about this, in fact, and “-isms” of all kinds have taken over social media like a tempest. In that LinkedIn post, I was challenged by a few commenters to consider how Chinese people treat people of other colors and ethnicities. Those who know me or follow me on LinkedIn know I frequently discuss racism and discrimination that educators of color face in the international school world.


Fast forward to this week, when another one of my LinkedIn posts addressed discrimination, racism, and xenophobia—again, take your pick because they all apply. This post, however, consisted of me expressing my great disappointment in many Chinese citizens’ response to revised regulation purportedly allowing more ways for foreigners in China to obtain permanent residence status. Most of the proposed regulations already exist in some form, and it is likely some netizens in China simply don’t realize this. Their responses, however, comprised virulent racism and xenophobia toward, in particular, black and brown expatriates from around the globe. Some have attributed the heinous response to fears of foreigners returning to China who may be infected with COVID-19. Thus, many in China quickly turned from persecuted to persecutor in a matter of weeks.


In yet another LinkedIn post several weeks ago, I discussed an article written by Chinese authors published on February 16, 2020. The new research described the effects of misleading media coverage during public health crises, with COVID-19 serving as a case study. The article discussed how such coverage perpetuates racial discrimination, negatively impacts country image, and damages mental health during a crisis such as the novel coronavirus outbreak. Importantly, the article approached the topic using a 2015 quantitative study that investigated “relationships between experiences of perceived racial discrimination…and 12 common psychiatric diagnoses…of African-American and Afro-Caribbean adults in the U.S.” This is important research that I hope will be part of a growing body of literature on race relations where, as a global superpower, China engages the topic of racism on many fronts. Already we see how research on the trauma of racism on people of color in America can inform new lines of research in China. Collaborative research needs to happen so that cultures are learning from each other, working toward solutions.


COVID-19 is testing the world’s bandwidth in every way possible, from online learning to the economy to politics to travel to medical supplies and, of course, the internet itself. A personal takeaway for me, however, is that racism and xenophobia exacerbate our already-stretched bandwidth. The vitriol of cultural superiority and degrees of melanin gives victory to an invisible virus. Everyone—including White people—need to do the work of antiracism with those who experience discrimination. Whatever our profession or location in the world, we—including White people—need to look for ways to advocate for those around us who don’t look like us. We/I need to collaborate, learn, and un-learn. We/I need to embrace difficult topics and conversations. Let’s not socially-distance ourselves from the values and virtues we need for a more pluralistic vision of a world equally affected by the current crisis. Let’s keep moving forward.





Lucas Roberts has served as a social studies teacher, professional development coordinator, vice principal, and principal in China since 2009. His teaching experience spans grades 6-12, and leadership experience grades K-12. Additionally, he has been involved in accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 2012, first as his school’s WASC site coordinator and, since 2014, serving on visiting team committees in Cambodia, South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, and Thailand. He started the LinkedIn Group, International Educator Equity Forum, to further conversations and solutions around educator equity issues in international schools. He has served on a panel in Thailand to discuss student leadership in athletics, presented at a conference on the topic of building discovery learning school cultures in China, and has written several book reviews in peer-reviewed journals and popular platforms. An additional passion of his is to draw awareness to social-emotional and mental health needs in our transient, cross-cultural school communities.


Lucas earned B.A., M.Div., and M.Ed. degrees, and is currently a doctoral candidate through Wilkes University’s Dubai-based, international cohort. His research interests include diversity, equity, and inclusion in international schools, cross-cultural leadership, and what it means for schools to collaborate, not just compete, in the international school world. He is a member of the KDSL Global Advisory Council.


Right, Just, and True: Why I Did Not Attend or Speak at #AAIE2020

Right, Just, and True:
Why I Did Not Attend or Speak at #AAIE2020

5 Minute Read


The shorter story:

I’ll answer the above question in a short, simple manner: I don’t see investment in diversity by those proclaiming to lead diversity and inclusion in education. All I see, after numerous attempts to engage, is silence.


July 2019:

Sent a letter to leadership and board at AAIE as well as the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning requesting a dialogue about how diversity, inclusion, and equity are being explicitly built into the curriculum and content and concerns that the new faculty were lacking in the diversity department.

The mission of AAIE is a global community that connects diverse people, ideas and resources, AAIE helps international educators lead with vision, wisdom, courage and integrity.


July 2019 – November 2019:

Follow up emails sent and no response.

Received a response indicating interest from PLS 3rd Learning, stating their interest in engaging in a conversation and asking for a point person to coordinate with.

After receiving this email we followed up several times, but the silence continued.


January 2020

I decided not to attend AAIE’s 2020 Conference and withdrew from a panel entitled Leading by Example: Cultivating Equitable, Inclusive and Just Communities.

We requested AIELOC members not to financially support organizations who are silent on issues important to us.



The longer story:

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
– The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior


Almost one year ago on 6 March 2019 I would write a blog post entitled #AAIEGlobalsowhite. In this post it stated that:

“Last year after attending #AAIE2018 there was a shock after noticing how much the international education leadership community lacked in the diversity department. There was talk at a session about critical issues (diversity being one of the topics). A hard decision was made not to attend #AAIE19 being that I was a member and studying in the AAIE Institute for International School Leadership.”

I questioned if the strategic plan would ever shift at AAIE as well as at ALL international schools around diversity, equity, and inclusion in international leadership.

I ended this blog by highlighting that the next generation of international leaders are diverse, disruptive, and want their voice included. We are ready to collaborate and add to the CONVERSATION. Is AAIE ready to listen?

In the last year the Diversity Collaborative increased in activity, membership, and a first report was produced by this committee, ISC Research, and George Mason University called From Resistance to Sustainability and Leadership Cultivating Diverse Leaders in International Schools. However, there are too many areas left unwritten such as race in international school leadership. This is one area the Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is focused on as we amplify and advocate for those who are treated as invisible or ignored at times. The Diversity Collaborative focuses on creating a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and just environment among the leadership of the international school community. While this group acknowledges work needs to be done, I notice very few willing to be publicly vocal about organizations and systems which they benefit from. I want to give a shout out to those international educators and leaders who consistently use their voice, listen, connect, and take action. Thank you to Luke Roberts, Brian Bedrick, Liam Hammer, Hope Teague-Bowling, and Adrienne Michetti.

I ponder many questions, such as diversity for who? Who is to benefit and at whose expense? Why so many remain silent and comfortable? Who is included and excluded in conversations?


The message below was sent to the leadership and board at AAIE as well as the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning in July 2019.

Dear AAIE,

On the about me section on your website it states that you “exchange international ideas, resources and research that help develop and improve international education, to diversify and expand school leadership capacity.” We are hoping to have a conversation after reviewing the AAIE Institute for School Leadership team of instructors found here https://www.aaieinstitute.org/about/institute-team/

We currently list the institute as a suggested international school leadership program for our AIELOC members. Our founder is enrolled in the program and is elated to see additional instructors beyond having one who taught all courses in the past. After reviewing the seven faculty members it was noted that there was a lack of racial diversity present.  We would like to know the process for serving as an instructor.  As future opportunities arise to serve on this team, please let us know so that we can share this with our membership. In addition, we are curious to know how topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity are being explicitly built into the curriculum and content of the seven courses.


We followed up numerous times with hopes to engage. However, there has been silence except the one time the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning sent this message:


Dear friends at AIELOC,

We would be very happy to engage in a conversation about our coursework and instructor cadre.  Of course, we would also love to add new instructors and have greater diversity on our team.  It would help if you would identify a contact person in your organization that we can engage with.  Thank you.  Sincerely, Don Jacobs


After receiving this email, we followed up several times, but the silence continued.

After reflecting on this lack of response I declined to attend the recent AAIE 2020 Conference in New York and serve on a panel, which I supported in organizing, entitled Leading by Example: Cultivating Equitable, Inclusive and Just Communities.  In addition, we have recently shared with the AIELOC members to not financially support any international education organizations who are silent on issues that are important to us. I am grateful to Liz Duffy and Dana Watts at International School Services for including me in the planning process and for their leadership.

The Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research.

  • We continue to challenge and call in organizations whose values and actions are not aligned.
  • We continue to ensure all of our members are supported in order to develop and reach their full potential.
  • We continue to share the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity as highly valuable and a necessity in all international education organizations.
  • We continue to invite allies in who want to change the narrative
  • We continue to engage in conversations that lead to action


A man lives when he stands up for that which is right. A man lives when he stands up for justice. A man lives when he takes a stand for that which is true.

Launch of new association focused on international educators and leaders of color


Dallas, Texas, January 6, 2020 – A new international education association focused on the global majority has launched. The Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research.

“When I started working in education internationally it was rare to connect and see others who looked like me. We want to make sure educators and leaders of color know there is a community to support them,” said AIELOC Founder Kevin Simpson.

Simpson is founder of KDSL Global, a leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education companies globally. He has served 500+ schools and thousands of educators in 20 countries worldwide. His journey working abroad started in 2005 in Vientiane, Laos.  Almost three years ago Simpson set up a Facebook group devoted to sharing opportunities for educators and leaders of color after a highly qualified colleague was discouraged from pursuing a leadership position because her country of origin did not match the expectation.

Last year Simpson’s company researched the race and gender of school leaders at US Department of State Assisted Schools around the world. The findings showed that leaders were mostly white and male. An infographic with more information is found here: https://kdslglobal.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/who-leads-leadership-and-diversity-at-us-department-of-state-assisted-schools/

AIELOC is collaborating with companies around the world whose actions are focused on changing the narrative of who leads in the international education space, such as EDspired, The Global Sleepover, Bhudye Group, The Diversity Collaborative, and Live. Love. Teach!, LLC.


For further information, please contact Kevin Simpson

Tel: +312.478.1695 | aieloc2019@gmail.com


Meet our new AIELOC Intern – Isabella Ellwein


Welcome to our new AIELOC Intern! Isabella Ellwein is a junior at Oregon State University majoring in Cultural Anthropology with minors in Education and Spanish. She has a passion for social policy, advocacy, and working with others. Isabella previously researched the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center in Salem, Oregon, evaluating the effectiveness of the department to ensure it was rehabilitating the youths. She is also on the executive board of the Here to Stay club at Oregon State University, where she helps bring awareness to the issues DACA and undocumented students face in education and focuses on advocating for change. Isabella is the granddaughter of Cuban immigrants and holds her heritage close to her heart. Seeing that this company empowers leaders of color to have a voice in education is amazing to her. Through this internship, Isabella hopes to improve her research skills, learn more about social policy advocacy, and gain a better understanding of the discrimination educators of color face.

AIELOC is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research.



KDSL Global interviews Travis Bouldin of We Are All Incorporated

We Are All Inc. Logo

Our KDSL Global Intern recently had the opportunity to interview Travis Bouldin, Founder and President of We Are All Incorporated.  With a focus on discovering, learning, and changing, Boulden provides global experiences to youth.


Tell us about We Are All Incorporated

We Are All Incorporated has a simple mission of providing new or nontraditional experiences to teens from communities with limited resources. We Are All Incorporated does not prohibit access based on lines of differences, especially race and socioeconomic status. As such, activities can range from a local fishing and hiking expedition to a day trip for skiing and snowboarding. Other times include catching a flight abroad for cultural immersion and enrichment. Young community members develop new understandings of themselves, the world around them, and ideas for enhancing diverse relationships through respect, appreciation, and mutual concern. Teens carry these understandings with them into adulthood as they enter higher education institutions or start new careers as participants in our national and global community.


 What inspired you to found We Are All Incorporated?

I didn’t have the opportunity to engage in international travel during my childhood. I didn’t leave the country for the first time until I was 26. Over the last decade, I’ve visited 32 countries. I find value in every part of the experience, including the skills needed to navigate basic directions when in a new country, touring historical sites, immersing in new cultures, and finding ways to share stories about cultural commonalities, common interests, and common concerns.

I grew up with a river and wooded area just beyond my backyard. I spent most of my days fishing, boating, exploring, and biking, which started a love for outdoors activities. As an adult, I include these activities regularly in my life. I find value in them and I wish to share that with others who rarely have an opportunity to get out of the city.

I originally partnered with other organizations that specialized in global travel for low-income and/or teens that had limited opportunities based on where they lived. However, I found that while these organizations had an honorable mission, the opportunities were not equally accessed by everyone. So, I started We Are All Inc. to reach the people that needed more motivation than a flyer or announcement.


 What upcoming expeditions and experiences do you offer?

I attempt to include teens in selecting and planning the activities that we choose. We will meet in August to calendar monthly trips and our international experience for the 2019-2020 calendar year. Activities will begin in September 2019!


For more information please visit https://freshglobes.weebly.com



Travis Bouldin is the founder and president of We Are All Incorporated. For 15 years, Travis has worked in education as a teacher, teacher leader, instructional coach, principal, and district leader. Travis values education as a “great equalizer” and believes that every child has the right to excellent teachers and great learning spaces. He has a fundamental belief that every child can be successful if provided with the right opportunities from the right people.

Having small-town roots, Travis enjoys fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and anything that allows him to be in nature, which he has passed on to his son. His love of travel and different cultures has taken him to 32 countries. Travis is a fan of American Realism and self-publishes short stories inspired by the genre. He is currently working on a plan to open a small farm to share a love of animals and agriculture with people in urban communities.

Travis holds a certificate in Global Education, M.A.T. in Teaching Secondary Social Studies, M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership, and is currently a candidate for an M.A. in American History.


KDSL Global interviews Marla Hunter


Our KDSL Global Intern recently had the opportunity to interview Marla Hunter of Live. Love.Teach!, LLC. Currently, Hunter is based in the United Arab Emirates and passionate about coaching, diversity, and inclusion. She is a new collaborating partner with KDSL Global with plans to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the international education space.


Tell us about your work mentoring teachers.

I have been mentoring educators for almost 10 years now. Without mentors or instructional coaches, teachers would flounder in every decision they make. I use practical strategies to support the teachers that I coach and elevate. This helps to improve the quality of education for students.

Below are the steps that I use during coaching/mentoring

  • Reassuring new teachers
  • Providing encouragement to all
  • Offering feedback
  • Being there during the “oh no!” and “ah ha!” moments
  • Reflecting together


Tell us about your work towards moving schools to embrace diversity and inclusion.

Diversity and inclusion is something that I have been working on since I began my work in education 15 years ago. It is important to remember that it is the responsibility of educators to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) of the students in their care; whether the student is in their immediate classroom or not. NPR‘s Bill Chappell reports that, according to the Census Bureau, “By around 2020, ‘more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be part of a minority race or ethnic group.’” Can you imagine that this is just the USA? Just think about GLOBAL education. When I moved abroad I helped to start a Facebook group catered to People of Color (POC) teaching abroad and wanting to move abroad to teach.  I have conducted several Periscopes and Facebook Live conversations to discuss DEI and other concepts of global education.

As a collective we need to stop talking about DEI in international education and start taking action.

  • Building community
  • Building trust
  • Instruction/Professional Development


What leadership coaching services do you offer?

I offer the following services that can be found on my website:


  • Teacher Mentoring
  • Leadership Coaching
  • Technology Coaching
  • Employee Training and Development



M Hunter

After a successful career of teaching in both public and private education in Nashville (TN), Memphis (TN), and Orlando (FL), Marla Hunter is now teaching internationally and has taught in the following places: China (Shenzhen), Nigeria (Abuja), and currently the UAE (Al Ain).

Marla graduated from University of Memphis, by way of Oakwood College (now University), with a Bachelor’s in K-8 Education and from Nova Southern University’s MATL (Master’s of Teaching and Learning) program where she earned a degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

It is believed that as educators we must work to inspire the students with a love of learning. We must also teach them how to learn and equip them with the tools necessary for their next step in life. The child must work to be teachable, to practice their lessons faithfully, and to learn from their mistakes and from the mistakes of others. Finally, the classroom must encourage curiosity, foster thinking, and facilitate productivity. It must be a safe and inviting environment in the eyes of the child.

Marla is a firm believer in the use of EdTech & a lover of Maths. She has participated and facilitated several math initiatives in Tennessee and Mt. Holyoke University: SITES-M School (Strengthening Instruction in Tennessee Elementary Schools) – Focus on Mathematics, Summer Math for Teachers Working with Data: DMI Training/ DMI Facilitation Training, Summer Math for Teachers Geometry: Examining Features of Shape DMI Training/ DMI Facilitation Training, and SITES-M DMI Training for Teachers Number and Operations, Part 1 Building a System of Tens: Calculating with Whole Numbers and Decimals. She also provided quarterly Parent PD (Early Childhood Parent Sessions) in Reading, Math, and STEM/STEAM at the International School of Abuja.

Marla’s school in Nashville, TN was also the anchor school to begin the use of Common Core State Standards for the state. Marla receive training and became a trainer in CCSS for both K-8 Maths. She developed workshops to help educators in Memphis & Orlando. She also helps school districts, homeschool co-ops & various educational companies development EdTech and other curriculums for their various programs.