GoAbroad Reflects on The Melibee Swarm

It’s hard to believe it’s been two weeks since the Melibee Swarm ended! The one and a half day mini-conference was jam packed with activity and reflection. From a massage circle, to talking sticks and poetry readings, the Swarm pushed folks out of their comfort zone fast, just like an experience abroad!

The Melibee Swarm
Pictured: Melibees Past & Present-Danielle Sleeper, Lisa Zenno, Ashley Houston, Missy Gluckmann, Katy Rosenbaum, Tara Nygaard


Dissimilar to a typical international education conference, the Swarm emphasized personal development. By focusing on the individual, many activities showcased the power of personal story and experience. These realizations and reflections allowed attendees to relate their experiences to the greater intercultural space, and provide them with something to bring back to their jobs and offices post-Swarm. For educators or interculturalists without a graduate degree, it came across as a great intro into culture, identity, and perspective! For many of us with a strong background in these areas, it was a reminder of how we see culture and who we are individually (as well as within the greater world).

The Melibee Swarm
Pictured: Danielle Sleeper, Julie Parenteau, & Ashley Houston


Favorite Elements:

  • Networking with other international educators, intercultural trainers, consultants, grad students, and diversity enthusiasts that I normally wouldn’t get to meet at other conferences
  • Meeting other Meli-“bees” that I’ve worked with virtually for years for the very 1st time!
  • Exploring the city of Asheville and it’s fantastic foodie scene. I’ll definitely be back to further investigate those Great Smoky Mountains!
  • Writing my spoken word poetry about why I am a risk taker…which may end up as a digital story someday to share with others!
  • Experiencing a different, and very hands on, approach to an international education gathering
  • Hearing the stories and backgrounds of other attendees and making connections for the future


  • Experiential learning can be more powerful and action-oriented than didactic learning
  • The activities and ideas presented were all ones that could be used in a re-entry or pre-departure setting for study abroad, a freshman orientation, or even a diversity group meeting.
  • The power of listening, really deep and focused listening, can create more ideas and understanding than a full fledged conversation.
  • It’s okay to disagree, voice your opinion, and be true to yourself.


Thanks for letting GoAbroad join in on the Swarm experiment, Melibee!


About the Author

Midwest through and through, Ashley Houston has been fortunate enough to travel and study all over the world, visiting over 30 countries. As a result of all her travels and growing up in language immersion programming, she considers herself a global citizen who is an advocate of intercultural communication and cultural exchange.

Armed with 4 years of academic advising experience, 5 years teaching Japanese, and a Masters degree in Intercultural Relations, Ashley brings a wealth of experience to her role as Special Projects Coordinator at GoAbroad.com. Her focus revolves around User Experience on the site, content development, institutional relations, and social media management.

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