CENET’s First 100 Days

Op-Ed By Leslie Corn

#CENETJ1 #ExchangesImpact

I believe it was the wise words of Alabama that once proclaimed “you can’t keep a good man down.” And that’s exactly what’s happening here. Thanks Randy Owen. I’m not certain the song was written for this moment in time, but it could be. It is, after all, 2017– the year of anything is possible.

Due to events that will not be named in this apolitical post (hint: it started in November), it’s safe to say there’s been some recent challenges presented to the exchange community.

In the midst of adversity, it’s as though Alabama (the band) was singing directly to Missouri (the state), and we got to work. Although it felt like our course became uphill, we continued in forward-movement towards our goals.

Below is a snapshot of CENET’s first 100 Days; 100 days well spent, endeavoring to inspire a safer, more prosperous and compassionate world through international education and cultural exploration.


Local:

CENET started the year in our new office, with our new website, with our old staff holding some new titles, and some new staff joining the team. We also welcomed a new J-1 category. It was like we won the lottery. But better because we didn’t get the curse that goes along with all lottery wins (source: the internet).

We also provided Culture in the Classroom sessions for 530 students, impacting 31 classrooms at 3 schools with 9 different presenters sharing their unique cultural backgrounds. A special presentation in Oran attracted media attention from the Southeast Missourian  and KFVS coverage; the session also had support from the offices of Senator Blunt and Representative Smith.

CENET hosted a Welcome Reception in our office space, to share our mission with new friends and long-time supporters. Over 150 community members joined us to sample international cuisine and wine & beer selections from around the world.

On April 27, over 40 CENET supporters gathered at Hedman Vineyards for a special culinary and wine event celebrating Swedish culture and raising funds for Culture in the Community. The funds raised at the event will be directed to sending area youth to the world-renowned Concordia Language Villages for 2017 summer programs.

In addition, CENET hosted a local Chamber of Commerce After-Hours event, presented at the women’s Optimist Club in Jackson, sponsored “Carnaval Night: Welcome to Rio” as part of SEMO of the World, welcomed various visiting partners from around the world, and hosted a Magellan University member from Zuyd University of Applied Sciences.

 


Regional:

In Branson, CENET cohosted the J-1 Community Forum, and the Branson Lakes Area Lodging Association’s monthly meeting. CENET was also selected to present at the County Partnership’s Workforce Summit. Community members in Branson are highly supportive, with the Branson Mayor and the office of Representative Billy Long regularly attending J-1 related events. CENET’s Regional Director, support staff, fellow sponsors, and community members continue to prepare for another successful summer season in Branson.


National:

We began the year with a visit to our west coast partners to provide J-1 education and training on our new website.

To connect within the exchange community and to gain valuable insight into the Camp Counselor program, CENET attended the American Camp Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Once again, CENET participated in Advocacy Day. CENET and fellow Alliance members visited over 170 congressional offices on Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of J-1 exchanges.

Recently, CENET had the privilege of participating in a volunteer project in Wisconsin Dells, which attracted approximately 360 winter work and travel exchange participants; the following day, CENET attended the Wisconsin Dells Annual Employer and Community Forum.


International:

CENET staff members have visited international partners in the United Kingdom, Budapest, Prague, Bratislava, and Warsaw, while also attended hiring fairs throughout Europe and the Dominican Republic. In addition, an alumni gathering was held in the Dominican Republic.

Magellan member universities, Aachen University of Applied Sciences and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, also received CENET visits.

CENET attended the WETM conference in Munich, Germany.


Looking Ahead: 

As we move forward, CENET will continue to dedicate ourselves to programs that inspire a safer, more prosperous, and compassionate world through international education and cultural exploration. We will also continue to advocate for exchange programs and initiatives that promote global knowledge, cultural sensitivity, peaceful solutions. Should you be interested in learning more about CENET programs or how to get involved, please contact CENET.

And if you aren’t sure what CENET is or how you got on this page, you should probably go watch the Alabama Can’t Keep a Good Man Down video. You earned it.

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.

 

CENET Facilitates J-1 Community Forum with Department of State and Fellow Program Sponsors

By Leslie Corn

Community Support Group | #BransonJ1 #CENETJ1

BRANSON, MO–On February 28, approximately 50 community members gathered with Department of State officials, CENET staff, and representatives from fellow sponsors Intrax and CIEE to discuss the J-1 visa program and lay the groundwork for another successful Summer Work and Travel (SWT) season.

The goal of the of the J-1 Community Forum is to promote greater community engagement and cultural exchange, and to discuss methods to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of all J-1 students in the Branson area.

The recent forum met its objectives through the following discussion topics and presentations: the responsibilities of SWT host employers, participants, and sponsors; initiatives of the International Student Outreach Program (ISOP) and how to get involved; panel discussions with J-1 visa sponsors and the U.S. Department of State; and lastly, networking opportunities with local host employers and other major SWT stakeholders.

Attendees were given the opportunity to learn more about the J-1 SWT program and its importance to the Branson economy and community.

Special thanks to Michael James and Ethan Bursofsky from the U.S. Department of State for attending the event. Additional thanks to our fellow sponsor representatives, Stacie Tollaksen with Intrax and Lauren Kelly with CIEE.

Although CENET is headquartered in Cape Girardeau, MO, an additional office is located in the Springfield/Branson area. CENET’s Branson-based staff members participated in the J-1 Community Forum, and CENET’s Executive Director, Robyn Walker, also attended.

The next community meeting in Branson is scheduled for Wednesday, March 22, 11am- 12pm at Taneyhills Community Library. Please mark your calendars for a planning meeting to discuss Branson student handbooks, bransonj1.com website content, and cultural activities for exchange visitors.  For more event information or for ways to get involved with the Branson J-1 community, please email cenet@cenet.org

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.

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