It seems like just yesterday the CCI Program said “farewell” to the 2016-2017 cohort and already the newest class of CCI participants has arrived! For the 2017-2018 CCI Program year, participants from 11 countries including Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Turkey have already begun their international exchange experience in the United States.
In 8 different states across the country, CCI participants are eagerly awaiting the start of the fall semester so they can begin their ten-month academic program at their U.S. host community college. However, before they enroll in college courses, CCI international exchange students at each host college participate in the CCI’s Gateway to Success Program (GSP)—a four week long orientation and pre-academic program that prepares and empowers CCI participants for the academic year ahead.
The Gateway to Success Program is an important part of the CCI Program because it provides participants with an opportunity to adjust to their new environment. For many international exchange students, navigating public transportation, figuring out currency, and learning how to enroll in classes in the United States is a brand new experience and can be overwhelming. The GSP helps to alleviate that stress by providing CCI participants with English language study and orientation to U.S. academic culture.
Feeling at home on campus before the start of the academic year is critical to academic success, so during orientation CCI students explore college resources like writing centers, computer labs, and libraries. At Northampton Community College, President Erickson welcomed several international students including CCI participants Thabiso Tjatjie from South Africa and Fadriati Anugrah from Indonesia. Meeting members of their college administration inspires CCI students to take on active leadership roles in their host college and community. By November of the last program cycle, over 10 CCI participants had been elected into leadership roles in college clubs and organizations!
Throughout the four-week long Gateway to Success Program, participants also get the chance to meet their social hosts and begin to give back to their host communities through volunteering efforts. At Northern Virginia Community College, CCI participants took on their first volunteer activity at Claude Moore Colonial Farm alongside ECA program officer, LaRita Campbell. At the farm, participants learned a about pre-colonial United States history and helped maintain the fields and gardens at the farm. Throughout their program year, participants will continue to prioritize giving back to their host community through volunteering.
Ultimately, the Gateway to Success Program serves as a way to prepare CCI participants for their academic year ahead and helps them adjust to U.S. values and norms, and by engaging in U.S. academic and social culture early, CCI participants can foster richer intercultural exchange with their host communities.