CCI 2018-19 at Grand Canyon

The CCI Pathways to Success Program 2019: Ignite Your Intentions

During the second week of January, all 146 CCI participants representing 12 countries came together in Arizona for the CCI Program’s annual mid-year 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. Under the theme of “Ignite Your Intentions,” this year’s workshops and guest speakers emphasized how CCI participants can turn their intentions into plans, and their plans into action.


This year’s PSP kicked off with one of the week’s many interactive leadership-focused workshops. The founder and president of Inspired Engagement Scott Geddis led the group through an Essential Strengths discussion that encouraged participants to focus on how individual strengths and talents can enhance success and create more effective teams. Later in the week, CCI Alumni Associate Kara Newhouse and Senior Program Manager Sara Mohamed led a workshop on understanding and leveraging personal motivations based on Gretchen Rubin’s New York Times bestselling book “The Four Tendencies.” Both the Essential Strengths and Four Tendencies sessions highlighted how self-awareness can be used as a tool to become a more effective student, employee, and leader.

Three other workshops throughout the week focused on exercising and understanding a variety of communication methods and skills. CCI Alumni Associate Kara Newhouse led a “Telling Your Story” workshop that outlined effective storytelling techniques and prompted participants to begin shaping their own stories about their academic exchange experience so far. The following day Master Certified Trainer Cricket Buchler gave an in-depth workshop presentation titled “Crucial Conversations: Learning the Communication Skills Demonstrated by Top Performers.” Her workshop led participants through the process of distinguishing between personal story and fact, and provided guidance on how to navigate tough conversations that might occur in the workplace or throughout day-to-day life. On the final day of the PSP, participants explored how the nuances of digital communication affects our understanding—or misunderstanding—of today’s news. During a workshop led by Arizona State University professor and media literacy expert Dan Gillmor, participants delved into discussions about how to combat disinformation in their own networks and countries. Each workshop and its accompanying activities demonstrated how communication operates on an interpersonal, professional, and global scale.

Finally, a teamwork activity required participants to learn to work together to construct a wood plank puzzle. During a Connectivity of Global Issues string activity, participants talked through how different global issues are interconnected.

Essential Strengths networking

During the Essential Strengths workshop, participants networked with one another to better understand the value in other people’s skills sets and how to utilize those skills in a team setting.

Teamwork puzzle activity

The Teamwork Activity during the PSP gave CCI participants a chance to consider how group dynamics can affect projects. [Photo courtesy of CCI Program Coordinator Kelly Forbes]

Co+Hoots speaker Lisa Glenn Nobles

Co+Hoots Foundation Executive Director Lisa Glenn Nobles spoke about how creating a social mission enhances corporations and drives profits. During her workshop, CCI participants drafted “legacy statements” to understand how social mission statements can connect with and inform action plans.

Guest Speakers

In addition to the variety of guest workshop presenters, other special speakers this year included Lisa Glenn Nobles, Executive Director of Co+Hoots Foundation. She spoke about how creating a social mission enhances corporations and drives profits. Through this interactive workshop, participants reflected on their action plans and worked on creating inspiring legacy statements to represent their values of their work.

The program also welcomed the President of Northern Virginia Community College Dr. Scott Ralls and ECA Branch Chief Jen Gibson, who spoke to participants about the benefits of hosting CCI exchange participants in U.S. community colleges and the benefits of exchange programs to the U.S. government.

Jen Gibson at PSP 2019

Jen Gibson, the Branch Chief of the Office of Global Education Programs in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (right center), answered CCI participant questions about how international exchange programs promote and build mutual understanding between countries. [Photo courtesy of CCI participant Dahlia]

Dr. Rahman and Dr. Ralls

Associate Vice President and Director of the CCI Program Dr. Syedur Rahman (left) and President of Northern Virginia Community College Dr. Scott Ralls, (right) handed out mid-year awards to CCI participants who demonstrated a high level of commitment and achievement the five pillars of the CCI Program.


To foster long-term engagement with CCI participants when they become alumni, CCI Alumni Relations and Social Media Coordinator Dana Brantley gave a presentation about how to stay connected through State Department and CCI alumni networks. She also shared the variety of opportunities and resources available to CCI alumni such as the CCI Alumni Certificate Programs and CCI LIVE webinars, as well as Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) international exchange alumni resources and opportunities including

After learning about opportunities that they can pursue, this year’s CCI participants were treated to the surprise appearance of six exemplary CCI alumni. Ana Lucia Miranda-Cole of Costa Rica, Vanesa De la Cruz of Colombia, Sharon Rapetswa of South Africa, Jaya Gulo of Indonesia, Gilbert Sabina Lekalau of Kenya, and Pradeep Kumar of India participated in an alumni panel, during which they answered participants’ questions about their challenges and successes after the CCI program. The alumni stories of how they used the skills and experiences gained in the United States to become global CCI difference-makers inspired the current cohort to finish the second half of their exchange program on a strong note and keep the momentum going when they return to their home countries.

CCI Alumni Panel

Visiting CCI alumni (left to right: Ana Lucia Miranda-Cole, Vanesa De la Cruz Pavas, Gilbert Sabinga Lekalau, Sharon Rapetswa, Pradeep Kumar, and Jaya Gulo) shared their stories and perspectives as CCI alumni. [Photo courtesy of CCI Program Coordinator Kelly Forbes]

Peer-Led Panels

The first peer panel, Maximizing Your Remaining Experience, saw CCI participants giving testimonials about how they made the most of their coursework, volunteer opportunities, internships, cultural exchange activities, and more during their first semester in the CCI Program. These participants’ examples provided a model for seeking opportunities rather than waiting for them as their peers headed into the spring semester.

The second peer-led panel of the PSP focused on action plans. Throughout the year, CCI participants develop an action plan to implement upon returning home. During the Action Plan Panel, CCI participants with advanced plans explained their projects to their fellow participants. Following the motivating panel, everyone reevaluated their action plan goals before joining an intensive networking workshop to share ideas and resources. Creating networks with their CCI peers during the PSP is a way to ensure their plans have a global support system after participants leave the United States.

Maximizing Your CCI Experience Panel

The Maximizing Your CCI Experience panel was led by a group of CCI participants who had made the most of their fall semester in the United States.

Action Plan Panel

During the Action Plan Panel, CCI participants with advanced plans explained their projects to their fellow participants. [Photo courtesy of CCI participant Dahlia]

Cultural Excursions

Exploring the surroundings of the mid-year program provided moments to reflect and gave CCI exchange participants a chance to see more of their host country. Cultural excursions included a visit to Horseshoe Bend, a tour through Antelope Canyon, a hike along the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, and silent hikes at several of Sedona’s most well-known red rock formations.

Through a dynamic slate of workshops, speakers, networking sessions, and excursions, the 2018-19 CCI participants gained skills and memories that will fuel their long-term success and help them continue to build mutual understanding during their time in United States and beyond.

CCI 2018-19 at Grand Canyon

The 2018-2019 CCI cohort at Mather Point on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.

CCI 2018-19 in Sedona

CCI staff, visiting alumni, and the president of NOVA Community College with the 2018-19 CCI cohort in Sedona, AZ.

Posted in Action Plans, Alumni, Events, Leadership, Participants.