CCI alumni in Brazil

CCI Alumni: Making a Difference in their Home Communities

This summer, the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program will release a series of videos that showcases the impact of CCI alumni projects and contributions in their home communities. Over the past several months, a small team of filmmakers from StoryCenter have been making their way around the world to film and share a few CCI stories. Their travels began in Brazil, Colombia, and Costa Rica.

Increasing Information Technology Skills in Brazil

In Brazil, StoryCenter visited three 2016-2017 CCI alumni who are working to close the digital divide in their community. Daniel da Silva Farias (Fox Valley Technical College), Marcos Ferreira Nascimento Bisneto (Scottsdale Community College), and Leoncio Ferreira da Silva Neto’s (Northern Virginia Community College-Alexandria) are sharing what they learned studying Information Technology during their CCI year with kids in neighborhoods around Teresina who don’t have access to technology or opportunities to learn about computers. Through their IT Prodigies program, they have dedicated every Saturday morning for months to teach Brazilian youth basic computer skills.

Marcos teaching

CCI alumnus Marcos Ferreira Nascimento Bisneto helps close the digital divide in his home community by teaching underserved youth in Teresina, Brazil computer skills.

Community Service in Colombia

In Colombia, StoryCenter visited alumni who were inspired by their hundreds of volunteer hours in the United States during their CCI year to lead community service efforts at home. During her exchange year in 2016-2017, Vanessa De la Cruz Pavas (Northern Virginia Community College-Annandale, Media) started a grassroots CCI Colombian Alumni Club so that when she and her fellow Colombian alumni returned home, they could maintain and grow their exchange alumni network. Together with Melissa Acevedo Bedoya (Bunker Hill Community College, Early Childhood Education) and Angelica Hinestroza Hoyos (Santa Rosa Junior College, Tourism and Hospitality Management), these three women are creating a culture of service in Medellin. The StoryCenter team filmed one of the service activities the club organized for kids from low income families.

StoryCenter also captured Susana Marin Arango’s (2013-2014) efforts to apply her skills in finance and banking that she developed during her CCI exchange year at Houston Community College to lead the first capital campaign for the YMCA in the San Javier neighborhood in Medellin. San Javier was one of the most dangerous and violent neighborhoods in Latin America just a few years ago, but through its programs for youth, parents, teens, and the elderly, the YMCA is helping them build a safer, healthier, thriving community. As a YMCA board member, Susana is fostering positive change in her community.

Melissa leading an activity

(From left to right) Melissa Acevedo Bedoya and Vanesa De la Cruz Pavas volunteer with children at a daycare in Medellin, Colombia in an effort to enhance the spirit of volunteerism abroad.

Creating Jobs by Expanding Rural Tourism in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, StoryCenter visited 2011-2012 CCI alumnus Yermi Araya-Araya. Yermi studied Tourism and Hospitality Management during his CCI year at Scottsdale Community College, and upon returning home, he noticed that many young people in his community were leaving due to a lack of opportunity. In Mollejones, a town near where Yermi grew up, many families farm sugar cane, guavas, and jalapenos, raise cattle, and bake bread, and Yermi decided he could use the skills of those in his community to make a change. Yermi’s project, Grupo Agroecocultural de Turismo Rural de Mollejones, was created with the idea of bringing rural tourism to the town of Mollejones as an alternate source of income for the local families. Visitors can now pay to stay with a host family and take classes to learn about their trades. Since its inception, his project has expanded to address other issues that the community faces, and now addresses environmental education, cultural exchange, and job opportunities.

Yermi giving a tour

Yermi Araya-Araya (right) gives a tour in Mollejones, Costa Rica as part of his project to increase rural tourism in his community.

Reinvigorating CCI Alumni Connections

In addition to filming alumni projects, former CCI program coordinator Allison Myers has also been hosting informal CCI gatherings for all alumni in each country. CCI alumni have been excited to reconnect and network with each other and share what they have been doing in their home countries since their CCI experiences.

CCI alumni in Brazil

CCI alumni in Brazil gathered together to reconnect and celebrate 10 years of the CCI Program.

CCI alumni in Colombia

CCI alumni in Colombia gathered together to reconnect and celebrate 10 years of the CCI Program.

CCI alumni in Costa Rica

CCI alumni in Costa Rica gathered together to reconnect and celebrate 10 years of the CCI Program.

Return to our blog in March to learn about StoryCenter’s next stop in their journey to film CCI alumni impact around the globe.

Posted in 10th Anniversary, Alumni.