CENET Provides 2nd Annual Fun Day for Area Grade School

Culture in the Community | #CITC #CENETJ1

JACKSON, MO— CENET’s local program, Culture in the Community (CITC), recently finished a 12-day international education series at St. Paul Lutheran School; the culminating event was a Fun Day celebrating world cultures. This is the second year CITC has provided an educational series and Fun Day for St. Paul Lutheran School.

The event reached approximately 250 students, with the support of 25 parents and community volunteers. The students ranged from Pre-K to 8th grade, with 19 classes represented in total.

The international presenters for Fun Day included:

  • Jose Andrés Miño, Ecuador: Jose performed songs & played guitar for the students. He also read a story to the younger students, which he accompanied with his guitar.
  • Shvetha Gohn, India: Shvetha created henna art for the students.
  • Ricardo Ashimi, Hugo Machida, and Enzo Kuba, Brazil: Ricardo, Hugo, and Enzo played soccer with the students and gave a presentation on their culture. They also shared samples of popular Brazilian soda and dessert: Guaraná & brigadeiro.

To celebrate an earlier CITC session on Myanmar, the students enjoyed a tribute to Water Festival, with the older students having a water balloon fight and the younger students playing a duck pond game. In Myanmar, the festival lasts several days– it marks the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. Playing with water is a feature of the festival—one that was enjoyed by the students at St. Paul.

A cooking exhibit was also available for the students to sample and help prepare world cuisines, as well as a craft area where students created Mexican yarn art called Huichol.

Students also won various prizes at Fun Day, which included gift cards to Wehrenberg Cape West 14 Cine, Chick-Fil-A, and passes to Lazy L Safari.

CENET looks forward to continuing the partnership between Culture in the Community and St. Paul Lutheran School. A gallery of photos from Fun Day may be viewed below:

Special thanks to area sponsors for donating supplies and prizes for Fun Day: MidAmerica Corporation, Lazy L Safari, Chick-Fil-A, Rental Land, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Country Mart, and Popeyes Chicken. The support and generous donations helped make Fun Day a success. 

Additional support and funding for the educational series at St. Paul Lutheran School came from the following local businesses and individual donors: Baer & Edington, Abe & Emily Funk, David & Tara McMullin, John & Taffy McMullin (John’s Pharmacy), Todd & Donna Ward, and Jackson Medical Center. 

Thank you to all of our sponsors for supporting international education at St. Paul Lutheran School! 

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.

Outbound: Diane Langenfeld Shares Exchange Experience

Outbound Exchange | #GlobalCitizen #CENETJ1

Cape Girardeau native Diane Langenfeld completed an internship at CENET from 2014-2015. Currently, Diane is pursuing her MBA at Southeast Missouri State University. Through her graduate program, Diane had the opportunity to spend the spring semester abroad. Diane returned to the U.S. in early June and agreed to share her experiences with CENET. Check out CENET’s interview with Diane below:

Why did you participate in an exchange program?

My mind goes all over the place when I think about my answer to this question.  However, there is one resounding reason that seems to always creep to mind first: I felt suffocated by the mid-west American culture I had spent my whole life in.  I had gone on a few short-term trips, all less than a month, but I never felt like it gave me any solid feel for a culture other than my own because I never left vacation mode.  I simply wanted to experience something different.

What surprised you the most during your experience?

What surprised me most during my experience was the developing sense that the U.S. is where I “belong.”  I thought my time abroad would result in such great memories and friendships that I would want to live overseas by the end of it all.  However, only part of this came true.  I DID make incredible memories with even more incredible people.  But I did not gain a desire to live overseas.  My understanding of other cultures grew immensely, the main goal of exchange programs, as did my realization that I am most comfortable in the md-west American culture.  I no longer feel suffocated by the culture, because it turned out that being away from it allowed me to appreciate it.

Do you see the value of cultural exchange? If so, in what ways? 

Can I get a “YES” times 100?  If so, that is my answer.  Spending an extended amount of time immersed in a culture other than your own teaches you many things. First and foremost, the art of adaptation.  Things will be different.  They will seem weird and wrong and make you uncomfortable.  But once you figure out the differences and overcome them, it produces a great sense of accomplishment and independence.  It also increases tolerance for other cultures and really people in general.

Has your exchange program changed your world view?

I don’t feel my world view has drastically changed.  I was lucky to be raised by parents who taught me not only tolerance of others, but acceptance as well.  What I have realized is that the United States lives in somewhat of a bubble.  Other countries are far more concerned about what is happening here than we are concerned about what’s happening in other countries.  I feel this is somewhat understandable as our country alone is comparable in size to the world’s smallest continent of Australia.  However, Americans need to be aware of this and actively seek information on what is happening in other countries.  After all, a decision made in a country that is only a small portion of our country’s size can have a profound effect on our country.

Do you think the world would be a more peaceful place if everyone experienced a new culture?

Without a doubt!  I believe people can become so wrapped up in their own culture that they begin to think that anything done differently in another culture is wrong.  This mindset can lead to feelings of superiority and, as a result, acceptance of others can easily diminish.  Even experiencing just one other culture can show a person that these differences are not wrong, just different.  If a person comes to that realization about just even one culture other than their own, there is potential they will realize this is true for all other cultures.

Did you encounter any perceptions/misconceptions about Americans?

I know that people I met had a certain perception of Americans.  How?  Because some of these people ended up becoming great friends of mine and directly shared their previous perceptions with me.  Being brutally honest, the most common perceptions of Americans is that we are loud, materialistic and ignorant.  I even had one friend tell me, “I never thought I could be friends with an American before I met you.”  Though I can’t fully deny being loud at times (I’m a social butterfly, what can I say!?), I don’t like to think of myself as materialistic or ignorant.  Unfortunately, some Americans do fit these characteristics which is why the perception is there, but I like to think that the people who encountered me during my time abroad now realize we are not all like this.

Culture shock is common. What advice would you give others about culture shock? 

First, I feel I should stress that I studied overseas in a country that speaks my first language of English which I feel decreased the intensity of which I felt culture shock.  But, nonetheless, I do have two main pieces of advice in coping.

  • Realize it is normal and it will pass. Cliché, I know.  But it is so true and if you’ve heard it time and time again, there is a reason for that.  Just know it is temporary and be patient with yourself when facing struggles you encounter.
  • Be prepared for people to look at you weird or even seem annoyed with you when you are trying to figure out cultural differences. I didn’t realize groceries stores there don’t provide bags for you.  I didn’t know that bus tickets could only be purchased with coins.  Both of these experiences resulted in some weird looks and annoyed workers.  Looking back, I wish I had just brushed it off.  Those people didn’t know my story and their opinions of me didn’t matter one bit at the end of the day.  So always keep your head high in instances you feel unsure of yourself.  You should feel proud of yourself for leaving your comfort zone and pity for them for not realizing a chance they could have made a foreigner feel welcome in their culture.

If you could do it again, would you?

100% YES!  There is really no other way to answer this question other than without a doubt in my mind I would participate in my exchange program all over again.

CENET is non-profit organization located in the Marquette Tech District in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. CENET facilitates both inbound and outbound exchange programs, as well as local programs with an emphasis on international education and cultural exploration. If you are a student in the Cape Girardeau area and interested in studying abroad and/or learning a new language, contact CENET to explore your options.

Special thanks to Diane Langenfeld for sharing her experiences and serving as an advocate for international exchange programs.

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.


More Funding for Exchanges: Good News for Everyone

By Michael McCarry 

Op-Ed | #CENETJ1 #ExchangesImpact

In its budget deal to keep the government open until the end of Fiscal Year 2017 (Sept. 30), Congress increased overall State Department funding by 1 per cent, and funded the Department’s exchange programs at $634 million, a 7 per cent increase and only $1 million short of all-time high water mark for exchanges in FY2010.

This is extraordinarily good news for the country, and for anyone who cares about exchanges, even if your programs do not receive federal funding.

Here’s why:

President Trump’s first budget request (for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins October 1 of this year) seeks a 29 per cent reduction in State Department funding, and deep cuts for most exchange programs.

Like any other President, Trump only gets to propose funding levels for federal agencies and programs.  Congress decides.  And it will need to make its decisions on Trump’s first budget in time for the new fiscal year that begins October 1, 2017.  If necessary (and it often is), Congress can postpone that deadline by passing Continuing Resolutions that keep the government running temporarily at the previous year’s funding levels.

During the Watergate crisis, secret source Deep Throat (FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt) famously told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward that if he wanted to understand what was going on, he needed to “follow the money”.  That’s still good advice when trying to parse Washington politics.

In Washington, money serves as its own kind of language.  In its appropriations for the State Department and exchange programs, Congress sent the White House a clear, even emphatic message:  diplomacy matters.

The current Republican-controlled Congress is not alone in this view.

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, noted in a 2008 speech, “…our own national security toolbox must be well-equipped with more than just hammers.”

Current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, testifying before Congress for the Pentagon as General Mattis, made the same point in 2013: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition… I think it’s a cost-benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget as we deal with the outcome of an apparent American withdrawal from the international scene.”

Work is just beginning on 2018 appropriations, but the strong expression of support from Congress leaves the State Department and its exchange programs in a good position as the next funding cycle begins. The 2017 numbers tell us that Congress is not prepared to consider the steep cuts proposed by the President.

And that creates a much more positive outlook for everyone in the exchange field, even those whose programs derive support from participant fees. If budget numbers are indeed a Washington dialect, a significant cut would tell you that diplomacy and exchanges are not considered important. A funding boost such as the one just enacted tells you they matter a lot.

In the political world, that message matters, because the rationale for exchange programs – whatever the funding mechanism – is identical.  Members of Congress who favor strong funding for exchanges are more likely to understand and support well-run exchanges that don’t receive federal dollars, because all exchanges promote mutual understanding and respect, and thus, as Secretaries of Defense have testified, support U.S. national security.

Moreover, every exchange program is better off with a strong Department of State.  We all need U.S. embassies with the facilities and staff to adjudicate visas in a timely way, to reach out to potential exchange participants with information and encouragement, and to direct exchange programs in ways that serve the public interest.

Recent Congressional action on exchange funding and the very clear message it sends go a long way preserving that capacity for all of us.

Michael McCarry

Michael McCarry is a Senior Advisor at CENET. With over 37 years of international experience– both as a Foreign Service Officer and the Executive Director of the Alliance for International Exchange– Michael McCarry is a leader within the exchange community, with distinct insight and knowledge in policy, foreign affairs, and public diplomacy. 

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.