During the week of January 7 to January 13, 2018, the entire 2017-2018 CCI Program cohort, consisting of 152 students representing 11 countries, came together in Arizona for the annual midyear Pathways to Success Program.
The Pathways to Success Program (PSP) is a week-long program designed to build participant skills in leadership, reflection, and goal setting while developing the CCI alumni network and enjoying excursions to key U.S. historical and cultural sites. The theme of this year’s PSP was “Your World of Opportunities” and was designed to help CCI participants realize how the opportunities presented to them in the United States can act as a springboard for future opportunities as global citizens and change makers.
Throughout the week, workshops, guest speakers, CCI peer panels, and cultural excursions kept participants mentally and emotionally engaged.
Throughout the PSP, several interactive workshops took place. Guest speaker Scott Geddis led the group through an Essential Strengths discussion and workshop. Participants learned about how focusing on individual strengths and talents can enhance individual success and create more effective teams. Another inner-strengths focused workshop was the Enneagram test and discussion. Both of these sessions highlighted how self-awareness can lead to better leadership and more opportunities.
To capitalize on opportunities, however, CCI participants needed to expand their understanding on how to effectively communicate personal visions and professional intentions. With that in mind, they participated in a communication-focused workshop and exercises to expand their communication skills.
After discovering inner strengths and learning about effective communication, a workshop on Conflict Resolution helped CCI participants use their newfound knowledge in a proactive way. Counseling faculty from Scottsdale Community College—Tia Bruised Head, Kim Kingsley, and Ramona Santiesteban—conducted a collaborative workshop to help build personal leadership skills by developing participants’ knowledge of communication and conflict resolution strategies.
Two popular activities were also part of the workshops featured during PSP 2018. The Teamwork activity enabled participants work together to construct a wood plank puzzle, and during the “Connectivity of Global Issues” string activity, participants talked through how different global issues are interconnected. The importance of turning personal growth and progress into community and global action was reinforced throughout the program.
Special guest speakers this year included two young entrepreneurs, Faridun Nazarov and Akobir Azamovich, the co-founders of 4Stay. Faridun and Akobir spoke about their journey to leadership and detailed the hardships and failures they encountered before becoming successful. CCI participants related to these young leaders and were encouraged to know that success isn’t always immediate nor easy.
The other guest speaker of the PSP was President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, Kathy Crosby. Kathy not only motivated CCI participants by sharing her personal story of overcoming many obstacles to get to where she is today, she also highlighted the importance of effective communication, persistence, and networking skills. As the final speaker of the trip, Kathy’s insight into these topics tied together all of the themes of the 2018 Pathways to Success Program.
Several short informative sessions were peppered throughout the week as well. Because growing and maintaining a global network is such an important aspect of creating and capitalizing on opportunities, a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) Program Officer, LaRita Campbell, spoke about how to stay connected as a CCI alumni through alumni.state.gov. By providing the tools to stay connected as international exchange alumni, this year’s CCI participants can continue to expand their professional network.
Ms. Campbell’s session tied in nicely to a session led by CCI Alumni Relations and Social Media Coordinator, Dana Brantley, who provided tips on how CCI participants can share their CCI story and act as their own advocate.
Finally, a current program year participant, Miguel Romero Rosas (Colombia, Houston Community College, Information Technology) shared information about cyber security and online safety.
CCI participants were especially interested in the peer-led panels this year. The first peer-led panel of the PSP was focused on Action Plans. Throughout the year, all CCI participants have been working on developing an Action Plan which they will implement upon returning home. During the Action Plan Panel, CCI participants with advanced plans explained their projects to their fellow participants. Following the inspirational panel from their international friends, everyone reevaluated their Action Plan goals before beginning an intense three hour Networking Workshop to share ideas and resources to further develop their plans. Participants will continue developing their Action Plans throughout the spring semester before implementing them in their home countries as CCI alumni. Creating networks with their CCI peers during the PSP is a great way to ensure their plans have a global support system behind them.
The second peer panel of the week occurred on the last full day of the Pathways to Success Program. During the “Maximizing Your Remaining Experience” panel, CCI participants gave testimonials about how they made the most of different aspects of their exchange year during their first semester in the CCI Program. Their ability to seek opportunities rather than await them proved inspirational to the group as they prepare for the second half of the program.
The first cultural excursion for the PSP was a boat tour of Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, Navajo Canyon, and the Glen Canyon Dam. The tour gave CCI participants a chance to learn more about the location and significance of the setting for PSP 2018, and appreciate the landscape and history of northern Arizona.
While in Page, Arizona, participants also visited Antelope Canyon. The guided tour through the canyon, which is located on Navajo land, was a great lesson in canyon formation, a chance to learn more about Native American history and culture, and a great photo opportunity.
Along the way to the final destination of the PSP—Sedona—participants stopped at Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon. Physically exploring the surroundings of this midyear retreat provided places and moments to reflect, and gave students a chance to see more of their host country. Exploring and hiking the southern rim of the Grand Canyon was a highlight for the group and a unique opportunity to see the only Natural Wonder of the World that is located in North America.
Starting the fifth day in a new location—Sedona—allowed for a moment to refocus and reflect on the PSP experience so far. During a silent morning hike, everyone thought about their experiences in the United States so far, and about their PSP experience. This opportunity to refocus reenergized everyone to start thinking about how to turn what they had learned into action.
Before leaving Arizona on Saturday, CCI participants stopped at Montezuma Castle, one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America, as a farewell stop. This archaeologically significant location reminded students about how far the human race has come, and encouraged them to think about how much more there is to do.
This year’s Pathways to Success Program brought together 152 participants, from 11 countries and 10 U.S. college campuses into a space of reflection, connection and inspiration. Strangers became friends and allies in their shared goals to become change agents. As they return to their respective campuses and begin the busy spring semester, they are reminded about their shared experience through the changes they see in themselves. There is a new fire, a new drive, and a newly combined effort. This motivation will carry them through as they continue to make an impact in their domestic communities and as they return home.