I-LEAD Seattle Engages 61 Changemakers from J-1 Visa Program

By Leslie Corn

#CENETJ1 | #ILEAD | #ExchangesImpact

The second I-LEAD session took place in Seattle, Washington from August 21-26. The program attracted 61 delegates, representing 27 countries and 18 sponsors. I-LEAD, a U.S. Department of State program, is facilitated by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE).

The first I-LEAD was at the American University in Washington, D.C.; the second took place at the University of Washington in Seattle. The I-LEAD experience is a 6-day, all-expenses paid program; this includes travel to and from the I-LEAD host city.

Per the CIEE selection process, applicants to I-LEAD were selected based on their interests in – and commitment to – making a professional and societal impact in their home countries following their internships.

The I-LEAD curriculum focuses on leadership, entrepreneurship, and community development. Delegates participated in workshops, attended meetings with entrepreneurs, and enjoyed cultural tours and other learning opportunities during their week-long I-LEAD session.

CENET participant, Heejae Yang, served as an I-LEAD delegate in Seattle. Heejae, a Business Administration intern in New Jersey, was able to travel across the United States in order to participate in I-LEAD. Comments about his experience may be found below:

When it comes to my thoughts or experiences, I cannot explain every single thing because every single happening was so impressive to me. Simply, I can say this experience in the United States, including I-LEAD, changed my whole life. It changed my thoughts, especially about my life. I was so impressed by every person I met. I got to know about U.S. culture and life, and I may get a Master’s degree in the U.S. one day. When I first came to the USA, I thought I would always prefer England, but by the end of the period, I was wanting to spend my winter in New York one more time! From A to Z, my attitude and thoughts were changed to the American way– whether it was acting free, struggling but enjoying life,  or meeting new people in the melting pot. Thanks a lot– I cannot say it enough.

Heejae Yang, I-LEAD Delegate

CENET strives to inspire a safer, more prosperous and compassionate world through international education and cultural exploration. For more news and updates about CENET, please visit our Facebook Page.


Scholarship Winners Return to Southeast Missouri After Cultural Immersion Program

By Leslie Corn

Culture in the Community | #CITC #CENETJ1

This summer, CENET selected four area students to receive full scholarships to attend Concordia Language Villages (CLV) in Bemidji, Minnesota. The scholarships were provided in partnership between CENET & CLV.

CLV is one of the world’s premier immersion language learning programs.The area scholarship winners included:

•Maggie Shelton, 17, of Jackson, MO, who will study Arabic for four weeks.

•Jake Shelton, 12, of Jackson, MO, who will study Portuguese for two weeks.

•Chance Earles, 11, of Carbondale, IL, who will study Portuguese for two weeks.

•Mariena Collins, 11, of Jackson, MO, who will study Chinese for one week.

The local students have returned home and shared their experiences with CENET:

Mariena Collins, age 11

Mariena attended CLV’s Chinese Village, Sēn Lín Hú. She was immersed into a world full of rich, Chinese culture where she was “excited to try new things.” Mariena enjoyed sharing her unique American culture with friends that she met from Africa, England, Italy, and all over the United States. They played a variety of games, including one about Harry Potter and a Chinese game called Jianzi, which is similar to Hacky Sack. On her experience at CLV, Mariena added, “everything is a challenge and a new obstacle and everyone tries to help you. That’s why I think everyone should be immersed at least once in an experience like this.  I learned so much about the culture and language.”

Photo of the Jianzi shuttlecock Mariene brought home with her.

Jake Shelton, age 12

Jake Shelton attended CLV’s Portuguese camp, Mar e Floresta. During camp, Jake went by his chosen Portuguese name, Leonardo. He shared that the counselors and fellow campers made him “feel safe and like we were one big family.” A few of the activities that took place in his Village were Portuguese art, Disco-Techa, and futbol. Jake made great friends at camp. He stated, “My best friend was Christiano, he was a lot like my best friend here in Jackson.”


Jake Shelton smiles with friends at CLV.

Maggie Shelton, age 17

Maggie Shelton attended the CLV Arabic Village for high school credit. She spent an entire month immersed in the Arabic Village, Al-Wāḥa. Maggie went by her chosen Arabic name, لو لو , which spells “LuLu.” Maggie’s assignments included: a poem, a presentation, a portfolio, a family tree, an interview, and a mid-term and final exam– all in Arabic!

Maggie enjoyed her time at CLV. Her favorite activities were learning the songs and dances of her Village. At the camp’s International Day, Maggie became involved with the Global Summit where they discussed issues in relation to the Paris Agreement pertaining to climate change. This event was very inspiring for Maggie, as she was able to see how treaty meetings are conducted. She was also involved in certain camp counselor duties for an evening shift of “manning the camp’s well.” Maggie is excited to continue her studies in Arabic and use the skills she obtained at CLV throughout her academic and professional endeavors.

All of the Villagers were invited to participate in an activity in which they were to speak only the language of their Village for an entire day. Jake, Maggie, and Mariena participated in the challenge. They reported they enjoyed the activity, even though it was very intensive and difficult at times. The scholarship winners have shared that they are hopeful to return to CLV in the future.

To learn more about the experiences of the scholarship winners, check out the feature published by the Southeast Missourian. 

CENET strives to inspire a safer, more prosperous and compassionate world through international education and cultural exploration. For more news and updates about CENET, please visit our Facebook Page.



J-1 Interns & Trainees Tour the United Nations

By Leslie Corn

Cultural Component | #CENETJ1 | NYC

In late August, four CENET staff members visited New York City to meet with J-1 host employers and participants. During the visit, J-1 interns and trainees took part in a special cultural component activity that included a tour of the United Nations headquarters, followed by a networking reception.

CENET strives to inspire a safer, more prosperous and compassionate world through international education and cultural exploration. For more news and updates about CENET, please visit our Facebook Page.