During her time in the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program, Axelle “Stephanie” Amani was inspired by Miami Dade College’s involvement in International Education Week (IEW). Between dressing in national garb, sharing food, and presenting about their home countries, Stephanie says that the 2013 celebration of IEW “helped us all understand where everybody else came from, gave us a broader sense of the world and brought us even closer [together].” When Stephanie returned to Côte d’Ivoire, she wondered how she could bring a similar opportunity to exchange cultures to her local community.
This year as a CCI alumna, Stephanie and three women from the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program decided to collaborate to make International Education Week come alive in Côte d’Ivoire. Stephanie and the ETA’s, Nathalie Halcrow, Cathryn Peirce and Debbie Alfred, decided to implement an event at Stephanie’s college for IEW 2016. The goal of the event would be to give Côte d’Ivoire students direct exposure to American culture and encourage them to work on their proficiency in English.
On November 17, 2016, Stephanie, Cathryn, and Nathalie held an IEW 2016 discussion event at the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, and over 40 students attended. While Cathryn and Nathalie moderated the interactive discussion, Stephanie handled the logistics of hosting.
During a question and answer session that took place, students asked the Fulbright ETA’s questions about the differences between the East and the West Coast in America, the concept of the American Dream, and the education system in the United States. The event was a true collaboration of two fantastic U.S. Department of State exchange programs—the Community College Initiative Program and the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Programs.
Aside from implementing International Education Week in her home country, Stephanie has been involved in a series of other events as an incredibly active CCI alumna. As the president of a grassroots CCI alumni network in Côte d’Ivoire, she works to get CCI Ivoirian alumni together for service events and group meetings.
In 2016 alone the Côte d’Ivoire alumni group has taken on a variety of different talks, events, and activities. Some have spoken about their experience in the CCI Program on local radio, and others have served as interpreters at the U.S. Higher Education fair. Recently, they supported their fellow alumna Philomène, who launched a children’s community center in Fresco.
The Côte d’Ivoire CCI alumni network is a model example of the long-lasting values of the CCI Program, and the impact of international collaboration through exchange programs.