2017-2018 Program Year Highlights
In July 2017, the CCI Program welcomed 154 participants from 11 countries to the United States. During the 2017-18 program year, participants came from Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Turkey. Throughout the year, they demonstrated their commitment to making the most of their exchange year.
CCI participants engaged in a holistic learning and exchange experience by concentrating on the five pillars of the CCI Program: academics, cultural exchange, service learning, internships, and leadership and action planning.
Below is a snapshot of how CCI participants engaged in the pillars of the program over the course of their 10 month program.
During the 2017-18 program year, CCI participants were dispersed throughout the CCI Program’s 10 host community college campuses in 8 states across America. At each college, CCI participants completed academic coursework in a variety of CCI Program fields of study including agriculture, engineering, business, early childhood education, information technology, media, public safety, and tourism and hospitality management.
CCI participants excelled in their academic coursework. At the end of the program year, 86 participants had earned a grade point average (GPA) of a 3.5 or higher, and 31 of those 86 participants achieved a 4.0 GPA.
Throughout the year, CCI participants learn about American culture and share their cultures with the people they meet through formal and informal activities. During International Education Week and other college-specific international fairs and activities throughout the year, CCI participants shared their cultures with Americans by dressing in their countries’ traditional clothing and sharing informative presentations about their national currencies, arts, flags, foods, languages, dances, and games.
CCI participants also embraced the diversity, history, and culture of the United States by visiting U.S. cultural landmarks, celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving, and participating in activities with local social hosts.
Early in their exchange year, the 2017-18 cohort demonstrated that they were not just ready to serve their host communities but that they were fully invested in the mission of giving back. In August and September, Houston and Orlando were hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. CCI participants studying at Houston Community College and Valencia College were quick to support hurricane relief efforts and ended up contributing nearly 2,000 hours of service to help their host community get back on its feet.
The 2017-18 program year included a unique opportunity for CCI participants to join in a large-scale volunteer event. In November 2017, over 40 CCI Program participants from 11 countries joined 1,400+ other Exchange Visitor Program volunteers at the NYC Marathon. Participants handed out water and cheered on runners from all over the world.
Participants also engaged in day-to-day and long-term volunteer activities. Some participants tutored young children in nearby elementary schools in STEM fields, while others participated in local environmental clean-up events, packaged and distributed food to food insecure communities, and helped out at local animal shelters. As CCI exchange participants gave back to their host communities throughout the year, they inspired local residents in the U.S. to join in and give back as well.
This year, the group of 154 participants went far above their projected number of hours and contributed an impressive 22,082 hours of volunteering to their local and neighboring host communities.
Across the United States, CCI participants capitalized on making the most of their internship experiences with local U.S. businesses and organizations. Through their internships, they built hands-on professional experience and explored their academic fields of study as they planned for their future careers.
At Valencia College for example, two CCI participants who were studying engineering interned as Teaching Assistants for the Construction Training Program at Valencia College.
As Teaching Assistants, Kwame and Phuti oversaw safety during lab work and model build sessions in active construction sites for the program. In addition, they helped grade papers, aid instructors, and supervise and assist the students participating in the program. This opportunity not only allowed Kwame and Phuti to develop skills that they could use when they returned home, but it also provided an opportunity for them to help people in their U.S. host community secure jobs through improved vocational skills.
Leadership & Action Planning
Throughout their exchange year, CCI participants are encouraged to seek out leadership positions on campus and in their host community. At Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, Perpetual from Ghana, Julian from Colombia, and Refiloe from South Africa, were selected to serve on the college’s Council of Student Leaders. At Valencia College, CCI participants were recognized for their contributions to the Valencia Intercultural Student Association (VISA) Club, and Matome from South Africa was elected to the Student Government Association.
Exposure to local, state, and federal leaders is also a way that participants enhance their leadership development. In Arizona, participants met with Arizona State Senator Juan Mendez, and in Boston CCI participants met former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. By speaking with these leaders, CCI international exchange participants got the opportunity to hear firsthand accounts on how leadership works in various sectors and organizations.
CCI participants are also given the opportunity to develop leadership skills through exclusive CCI leadership programming. For example, during the CCI Program’s mid-year Pathways to Success Program this year, participants built skills in leadership, reflection, and goal-setting. This mid-year leadership program also plays a key role in helping CCI participants develop their Action Plans for when they return to their home countries.
Supporting and Showcasing CCI Alumni Success
Over the course of the 2017-18 program year, CCI alumni continued to do great things in their home countries. CCI alumni efforts to enhance their home countries included starting nonprofits focused on educating underserved youth, contributing to the global economy by establishing themselves as entrepreneurs, and even using the technical and vocational skills gained from studying at a U.S. community college to improve health care abroad.
To help facilitate the continued success of CCI alumni, throughout the year the CCI Program launched several opportunities designed for to continue CCI alumni in the areas of personal and professional development.
In January 2018, the CCI Program launched the CCI Alumni Certificate Programs opportunity. In partnership with the American Management Association (AMA), the CCI Program developed courses and certificate programs exclusively for CCI alumni. From January 2018 to January 2020, CCI alumni can enroll in free, online courses in topics including management, leadership, project management, business writing, finance, human resources and chain management, and interpersonal skills.
As part of the CCI LIVE: Virtual Events for CCI Alumni opportunity, the program offered a webinar focused on reverse culture shock and dealing with reentry challenges. In June 2018, hundreds of alumni registered to participate in this added layer of support.
Both the CCI Alumni Certificate Programs and CCI LIVE opportunities aim to support new and old CCI alumni in their continued personal and professional development. In addition to the experiences of a dynamic exchange year, CCI alumni return to their home countries well equipped with the tools they need to achieve success as global difference makers.