In July 2018, the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program welcomed 146 participants from 12 countries to the United States. During the 2018-19 program year, participants engaged in a holistic learning and exchange experience by concentrating on the five pillars of the CCI Program: academics, internships, service learning, cultural exchange, and leadership and action planning.
During the 2018-19 program year, CCI participants studied at nine community colleges in eight states across America. At each college, CCI participants completed academic coursework in the fields of agriculture, business, early childhood education, engineering, information technology, media, public safety, and tourism and hospitality management.
While studying Logistics and Global Supply Chain Management at Houston Community College, CCI participant Kandiosky N’guessan from Cote d’Ivoire started a new club on his host campus. Kandiosky’s club, the HCC Logistics Student Club, aims to expose Houston students to the professional world of logistics management through mentorship, sites visits, and conferences. By establishing the HCC Logistics Student Club, Kandiosky helped expand hands-on learning experiences and opportunities for future students at the college.
To supplement their in-class learning, CCI participants gained professional experience in their fields of study by interning with local businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations.
One CCI participant, Maxime Blessing Gozo from Cote d’Ivoire, did his internship with the Mesa Police Department in Mesa, Arizona. Maxime studied business at Mesa Community College and used the business skills he learned in class to perform clerical tasks and assist with the police department’s hiring processes. He also helped organize and implement special events including community outreach projects, fundraising projects, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. In January he received an Outstanding Intern award from the department for his efforts, and by the end of the program year Maxime had contributed 134 hours of internship service to the organization.
In addition to completing internship hours, the CCI Program also requires that each participant complete 100 hours of service learning throughout their exchange. This year, the group of 146 participants went far above their projected number of hours and contributed an impressive 20,265 hours of volunteering to their local and neighboring host communities.
In addition to individual volunteer efforts, CCI participants engaged in a variety of group volunteer activities. At Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, participants sorted and packaged meals at the local Food Reservoir. CCI participants studying at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania volunteered with the Northampton community garden. At College of DuPage in Illinois, CCI participants helped facilitate the COD Food Truck Rally and Sunset 5K, a fundraising event that creates scholarship opportunities for local U.S. high school students to attend community college.
The 2018-19 program year also included a unique opportunity for CCI participants to join in a large-scale volunteer event. In October 2018, CCI participants studying at College of DuPage and Kirkwood Community College came together in Chicago to volunteer for the Chicago Marathon. Participants handed out water and cheered on runners from all over the world—including runners from their home countries.
By attending classes, volunteering, and interning, CCI participants are immersed in U.S. academic, civic, and workplace culture. In addition, CCI participants embrace the diversity, history, and culture of the United States by visiting U.S. cultural landmarks and celebrating holidays. Before their college courses even began, CCI participants studying at Northern Virginia Community College explored the monuments and sites in Washington D.C. In March, participants studying at College of DuPage saw the infamous green river in Chicago that is dyed each year to celebrate of St. Patrick’s Day.
CCI participants also share their cultures with the Americans they meet through formal and informal activities. Early in the fall at Valencia College, CCI participants from Indonesia performed a dance exhibition and discussed how dancing in Indonesia helps promote peace through cross-cultural and intercultural understanding. During International Education Week and other college-specific activities throughout the year, CCI participants shared their cultures with Americans by dressing in their countries’ traditional clothing and giving presentations about their national currencies, arts, flags, foods, languages, dances, and games. The CCI Program also celebrated IEW by launching a new Instagram account.
Leadership & Action Planning
Throughout their exchange year, CCI participants are encouraged to seek out leadership opportunities on campus and in their host community. At Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, Juan Nunez Diaz from Dominican Republic was elected to serve as public relations co-chair of the college’s Council of Student Leaders. At Northampton Community College, CCI participants Mpho Tsiu of South Africa and Sabiha Prema of Bangladesh took on leadership roles as Treasurer and Secretary of the International Student Organization. Mpho, Sabiha, and their CCI peer Moses Otieno from Kenya also participated in a select semester-long leadership program on their campus.
At Northern Virginia Community College, CCI participant Marlin Estevez took the call to act like a leader to heart and organized an International Women’s Day conference event on campus. The Vision 2019 Conference featured four speakers who discussed topics related to women’s success in the workforce.CCI participants also developed their leadership skills and enhanced their action plans by participating in two CCI-specific events. During the CCI Program’s mid-year Pathways to Success Program, participants built skills in leadership, reflection, and goal-setting.
In April 2019, the 2018-19 cohort was the first to participate in the CCI Program’s Launch to Success Program, a new end-of-year program designed to prepare participants for their return home by giving them the tools they need to launch into a new phase of their professional careers. During the LSP, participants reexamined the skills they developed throughout the CCI Program and took active steps to dive deeper into topics including personal branding, action planning, setting SMART goals, and preparing for re-entry.
Over the course of the 2018-19 program year, CCI alumni continued to do great things in their home countries. In Indonesia, CCI alumna and architectural and civil engineer Bunga Yunisari inspired future engineers by visiting elementary schools to talk about engineering as a career path. Meanwhile in India, CCI alumnus Rajesh Shanmugan spread the spirit of U.S. volunteerism by organizing a series of donation drives and volunteer visits to remote villages in India.
One alumnus, Tantoh “Farmer” Nforba from Cameroon, was even the subject of a children’s book, I Am Farmer. Written by award-winning authors Miranda and Baptiste Paul, I Am Farmer tells the story of Farmer Tantoh’s sustainability work that has led to the development of 800+ gardens and clean water for tens of thousands of Cameroonians.
From February through May 2019, the CCI Program began releasing its much-anticipated CCI Global Impact series—a collection of 12 digital stories that showcase the impact of CCI alumni projects and contributions in their home communities. The videos featured 19 CCI alumni in Kenya, Indonesia, Costa Rica, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Colombia, India, Ghana, and Pakistan.
To facilitate the continued success of CCI alumni, throughout the year the CCI Program offered opportunities designed for CCI alumni to use to continue their growth in the areas of personal and professional development. Throughout the year, alumni were encouraged to enroll in free courses and certificate programs offered through the CCI Alumni Certificate Programs opportunity.
The program also continued to host its CCI LIVE webcast series. This year’s webcasts, led by expert speakers, covered the topics of emotional intelligence, work-life balance, entrepreneurship challenges, and grant writing.
In May, the 2018-19 cohort celebrated their achievements from their 10-month exchange at certificate ceremonies at each host college. With certificates in hand, this year’s successful participants officially joined the ranks of nearly 3,000 alumni from 12 years of CCI Program history.