Cenet Co-Hosts First International J-Day

#CelebrateJDay #ExchangesImpact #EatPlayGive #ExchangeOurWorld

In 2014, cenet, Spirit Cultural Exchange, and Greenheart International piloted J-Day, a nationwide celebration of the power of international exchange. Over the last several years, J-Day events have occurred in cities across the United States, bringing community members and exchange participants together to “eat, play, give.”

This year, cenet partnered with Smaller Earth to host the first international J-Day in Liverpool, England. The event welcomed alumni from the Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 visa) and their families.

Cenet’s Senior Director, Leslie Corn, spoke on the background and significance of J-Day. Smaller Earth’s Co-Founder, Dave Robinson, provided a welcome address and shared about his first exchange program in the 1980s, a life-changing experience in New York City. After Dave, various alumni told stories about how their exchange experiences impacted their lives for the better.

The event included a prosecco reception, dinner, games, face-painting and coloring stations for children, live music, and a charity drive for the Liverpool South Food Bank resulting in £225 in funds raised. The leftover food from the dinner was donated to the local YMCA.

Below are a few stories shared by program alumni at J-Day Liverpool:

I 100% would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for going on an exchange to the U.S.

Before heading out, I had a little ‘Art Studio’ at home – well I say art studio but it was a cupboard with a light plummed into it (Harry Potter style!). I would spend all my free time here and wouldn’t really socialise. After my first summer abroad, my family and friends saw a huge difference in the person who returned home. This newfound confidence just grew and grew each year.

I was lucky enough to be be made the Speciality Director in my last year on the program, this meant I was helping in 9 activity areas and assisting many staff in these areas. This was a very challenging summer, there’s no doubt there. But, not only did I develop strong leadership skills, but I was able to help give other exchange participants incredible summers and was able to watch them all grow, much like I did in my first summer.

I also wouldn’t have gotten the job I have now if it wasn’t for my confidence and the belief I have in cultural exchange programs. It changed my life and I love knowing I’m able to help change lives of others through cultural exchange.

–Imogen C., Exchange Visitor Program 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017; Field of Study: Advertising and Brand Management; Current Position: Social Media Specialist 


I was at Camp Lincoln as a member of the sailing staff. The place was unlike anything I had ever experienced. One morning I was up at 5am and I saw Sam carrying the water coolers around, ensuring they were full of iced water for the day ahead. Here was a guy who owned the camp, owned another across the lake, and owned 2 high-end holiday resorts, employing hundreds of people and he was up at 5 making sure the kids had access to cool water for the day ahead. 

Down at the dock I met Lafe, he ran the sailing program. We had 30 boats, some were up to 28 foot long. He would raise them up on a lift and spend hours scrubbing the hulls to ensure they moved through the water with minimal drag. No kid would ever notice the incremental benefit of this, but he ensured that everything was the best possible. Of the 60 activities at camp, sailing was by far the most popular.

Camp taught me the value or hard work, the conditions for success were set up and I did better than I had before. 

I was brought up in the an environment where children were told what to do. Where shouting was okay, as a member of the boys brigade we believed that discipline was key, and a louder voice meant results. I took this to camp and one day a kid was playing around on the dock when they should not have been. I shouted at them, they ignored me. Lafe the guy running the sailing program walked up to them, sat down next to them and spoke to them.

They listened to him and did as he asked. Throughout the summer I learned how to create an environment where children (and adults) could flourish. This people based approach has stayed with me ever since. Discipline is not something done in the moment, it is a environment created to ensure people succeed.

At camp in 2006 outside the dining hall, I met Sophie. She smelt of horses. It was really bad. She looked great in her denim shorts and white t-shirt, I spent the summer learning about horses, and we have now been married for 10 years. Our camp values based relationship has set us up to succeed.

I met all kinds of people in the U.S., from the maintenance guy Ron, who lived in a trailer and survived the cold winters with all kinds of woes, to Sam who owned camp and more. These experiences and connections mean that when I hear of opposing political views coming from America about current politics I can connect to each perspective because I know people on each side of the argument.

I have been lucky enough to further develop these skills. Thousands of young people go to the U.S. and have a similar experience, and they, too, have positively impacted the communities they have visited in the U.S, and then their communities at home.

Summer camp is where young people get to take responsibility for things other than themselves, they get to take on challenges they would not face at home in a safe environment where everything else (food, accommodation, planning what to do and more) is taken care of. They get to succeed at a higher level than previously possible.

J-1 cultural exchange makes our society richer, it helps us understand American society properly, and by opening this opportunity to the world, it creates a huge ripple effect.

Here’s a toast to Camp Leaders, CENET, the J-1 Program, the U.S. Department of State, America and participants & hosts!

Mark H. Camp Counselor Program: 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009; Field of Study: Hazards and Geoscience; Current Position: Director of Growth and Development


I’ve met some of my best friends through the program. I’ve learned a lot about myself and others, and I have become a lot more confident. The program made me want to help others have the same experience as me.

Gabor S., Exchange Visitor Program 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016; Field of Study: Paramedics; Current Position: Travel Coordinator 


My summer J-1 program impacted me in a way I could never have imagined. I had everything I could wish for at home, including my dream job in London. But due to a burning desire to go to the USA, I took the plunge and went during my second year of University. Fair to say I loved every single minute. I gained the nickname “smiler” that first summer as I just couldn’t stop beaming from ear to ear the entire 9 weeks. The friendships I made were unlike any other that I’ve had in my life. They were deep, honest and we just connected in a way that I hadn’t done with anyone else. I went for my second summer and it still was the best place I’d ever worked. Upon returning home, I got the blues but was then offered my dream job at MTV in London. I was thrilled – yet a part of me still yearned to be in the U.S. with friends from all over the world, doing what I loved. My boss could see it in my eyes and when I sat her down to tell her I didn’t know what to do – she told me I had to go back for another summer. Decision made – 3rd Summer here I come. I qualified as a lifeguard and I developed a love for the water. By my 4th Summer I earned a Waterfront Director position and my life was changed forever.

I was lucky enough to be offered a full time job with Camp Leaders in ’08 and moved up to Liverpool to begin this journey – which I’m still on 10 years later.

It’s hard to put in to words how cultural exchange can impact and change your life, but my god is it important that we all allow ourselves the opportunity to experience its wonder.

Kim H., Exchange Visitor Program: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012; Field of Study: Dance and Professional Practice; Current Position: Head of People and Culture

Special thanks to our partners and friends at Smaller Earth for collaborating on the first international J-Day! 

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 Logo_Black

J-1 Interns & Trainees Celebrate International Education Week at Missouri State University

International Education Week | #IEW2017 #ExchangesImpact

SPRINGFIELD, MO– In honor of International Education Week, CENET partnered with Missouri State University (MSU) to provide a one-day International Leadership Conference for J-1 trainee & intern participants. This is the 3rd International Leadership Conference MSU has hosted for CENET’s J-1 participants.

CENET participants represented Mexico, Czech Republic, India, Philippines, and China. Other conference attendees included current international students enrolled at MSU and Student Council representatives from Waynesville High School.

The conference agenda included opening remarks, a campus tour, a panel discussion, and a presentation titled “Leadership in an Interdependent World” by Brad Bodenhausen, Associate Vice President of International Education and Training.

The conference luncheon was an event highlight as it offered enhanced networking opportunities; MSU faculty and staff from the English Language Institute, International Leadership and Training Center, and the Diversity and Inclusion departments were in attendance.

Special thanks to the following MSU faculty and staff for their involvement and coordination of the International Leadership Conference:

  • Kelly Cabrera, PhD., Coordinator of International Education & Training
  • Yi Winnie Wu, Marketing & Recruitment Specialist, International Leadership and Training Center
  • Brad Bodenhausen, Associate Vice President of International Education & Training
  • Pascal Hamon, Academic Director of English Language Institute
  • Support staff from the English Language Institute and the International Education and Training Center.
  • MSU Student Leaders

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 Announces Winners for Summer of CENET Contest

Cultural Component | #SummerOfCENET #CENETJ1

This past summer, CENET challenged our participants to submit photos, videos, or essays detailing their time in the United States. Entries were accepted from Intern, Trainee, Camp Counselor, and Summer Work and Travel participants.

CENET received entries depicting both big adventures and day-to-day life in host communities; whether showcasing travels, time spent working or training at the host company, or adventures with new friends, it was clear that a Summer of CENET was a summer well-spent.

Winners were selected based on content and quality; cash prizes were awarded to a grand prize winner and two honorable mention selections.

  • Grand Prize: Marvin Raymundo, Philippines
  • Honorable Mention: Matyas Eckl, Hungary & Anastasia Peycheva, Bulgaria 

Congratulations to our winners!

Summer of CENET

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 Partners with University of Tennessee Knoxville and Missouri State University to Provide J-1 Leadership Summits

Equipping Future Leaders | #ExchangesImpact #CENETJ1

This summer, CENET has had the privilege of once again partnering with the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Missouri State University to provide two separate leadership conferences for J-1 participants spending their summers in the surrounding communities. The events provided leadership training for over 50 J-1 Summer Work and Travel participants.

University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK)

Approximately 15 J-1 Summer Work Travel participants traveled from Gatlinburg, TN and Pigeon Forge, TN to visit UTK in June. The visit included a campus tour; a presentation on American Musical Roots and a tour of the NPR station on campus (WUOT); a presentation on phrasal verbs and informal English; a tour of the Howard Baker Center; and a session on graduate admissions in the U.S.

Highlights included an improvised song written about the J-1 students by Todd Steed, as well as an NPR tour that resulted in two J-1 participants getting to record an interview. Todd Steed has worked, lived, and studied in China, Lithuania, and Indonesia, and his global knowledge and sharp sense of humor helped him connect with the students. The students also enjoyed an engaging presentation on phrasal verbs from Em Chitty, author of “How We Really Talk and Sound.” Em Chitty shared: “It was a pleasure to present on phrasal verb idioms to your CENET attendees. I was happy to give them a key to understanding common idioms that are hard to figure out. They were an attentive and delightful audience.” The students also gained insight into U.S. graduate programs through an informative session given by Dr. Andy Ray; Dr. Ray is a former Peace Corps. volunteer and currently serves as International Student Recruitment Manager.

After the visit, Todd Steed shared, “We loved having the CENET visitors to WUOT.  They were totally tuned in and anything that makes the world a little smaller and warmer these days, we are all for it.”

Thank you to the University of Tennessee Knoxville for hosting CENET & our area participants!

Missouri State University (MSU)

Approximately 41 J-1 participants from 9 countries attended the CENET Leadership Conference at MSU in mid-July. The J-1 students are spending their university breaks in nearby Branson, MO.

The 1-day leadership training included: opening comments and a presentation on “Leadership in an Interdependent World” by Brad Bodenhausen, Director of International Leadership and Training Center; a themed lunch titled “Little Italy”; a panel discussion on leadership led by MUS faculty and staff; a campus tour; and lastly, a closing reception with MSU International student leaders, faculty, staff, and special guests.

Thank you MSU and the International Leadership Training Center for hosting and coordinating this special event! Additional thanks to the office of Senator Claire McCaskill for attending the CENET Leadership Conference at Missouri State University!

 

 

 

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 Journey | Future Leaders Experience U.S. Culture

By Leslie Corn

#CENETJ1 | Participant Experience | J-1 Trainee

CENET recently interviewed Joel Lundblad, a trainee from Sweden, to gain insight into his J-1 training program.  During his time in the U.S., Joel has gained professional experience that will advance his future career, while also cultivating a nuanced understanding of American culture.

How has your J-1 cultural exchange program changed you?

I’ve reached a new high in my career. I’ve held workshops for major global clients, won advertising awards. I’ve been mentioned in the biggest industry press, including Advertising Age’s Creativity Online where I received Editor’s pick for a campaign I did for MasterCard at NYC Pride. With the recognition I have received from peers in the industry, I am confident that I have a bright future ahead. 

What have been the highlights of your time in the United States?

Training in the creative industry at an Ad Age’s Agency A-List and Creativity Innovator Standout company is a highlight in itself. I have spearheaded film projects, digital campaigns and innovation projects for Fortune 500 companies, which is something only a selected few will get the opportunity to do. I feel honored to have been able to use my international experience to create impactful marketing and advertising for U.S companies.

What is different about the U.S. and your home country? How is the U.S. similar to your home country?

The biggest difference that I experience with the industry in Europe compared to the U.S is probably the way to provide feedback when working with partners, co-workers and vendors. The rhetoric is less straight-forward and far more friendly in the U.S. “Awesome! I have some notes” rather than “I don’t like it, can we change xyz”

In Sweden there is a phenomena called “The Jante Law”,  which can be described as a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within Scandinavian communities, which negatively portrays and criticizes individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate.

“The Jante Law” is the complete opposite of “The American Dream” which I feel is a very inspiring mindset shared amongst New Yorkers. Everyday in New York, I encounter someone who truly believes they can and will achieve greatness. 

There are good and bad things about both phenomenas, but having the understanding and knowledge of both gives me an incredibly useful perspective in my continued career in the creative industry.

Has your perception of the United States changed? If so, how?

2016 has been an interesting year on many levels. Not least due to the fact that it’s election year. I’ve followed the developments closely and it is very interesting to me how diverse this country is, on every level. The diverse nature of the U.S didn’t come as news to me, but during 2016 I have experienced it closely which has given me a deeper understanding of the U.S.

What has been the most surprising aspect of U.S. Culture?

Living in Brooklyn has been an amazing experience. Go a couple of subway stops in any direction and you’re in a completely different culture and atmosphere. It’s almost like traveling to another country, each area with a strong and inviting community. It’s easy to understand why New York is often called “The Melting pot of the world.”

Do you think people in the world have misconceptions about U.S. culture?

Like anywhere in the world and with any culture, people make generalizations.

The U.S has 319 million people, there’s bound to be a whole lot of different people. The perception that the people have is driven in large by what the media conveys, and for the U.S, Hollywood and TV Series also largely influence the perception.

Rather than misconceptions, I believe that it’s generalization that’s the issue. And the only way to defeat generalizations is to come here, meet people from different places and different socioeconomic situations. Like anywhere, Americans are not all the same.

Why is it important for young people to experience new cultures? 

It’s simple really. The world is bigger than what you know and what you’ve seen. It can’t be explained, it has to be experienced. Immerse yourself and don’t hold yourself back from experiencing what other countries/cultures have to offer. You don’t have to like everything, but you’ll come out richer from having had the experience.

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Joel Lundblad, J-1 Trainee in New York City

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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