Bringing the world to the community

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A federal program provides a learning exchange at community colleges.

The U.S. Department of State’s Community College Initiative (CCI) Program is bringing international students to community college campuses.

Nationally, the CCI Program will provide 191 participants from underserved global communities with a one-year, non-degree academic program in workforce development fields at 11 U.S. community colleges. Participants build technical skills and may earn certificates in their fields of study, which include agriculture, public safety, early childhood education and more.  Through internships, service learning and community engagement activities, participants strengthen English language proficiency and immerse themselves in the culture and day-to-day life in the U.S.

In the past five years, CCI participants contributed more than $4.3 million in service to local U.S. communities through volunteering and unpaid internships, as calculated by rates for volunteer hours.

Kirkwood Community College in Iowa is hosting 16 international exchange students this academic year as part of the CCI program. This year, CCI participants studying at Kirkwood are from Bangladesh, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa.

“Kirkwood is excited to once again welcome CCI students from all over the world to our campus,” said Kirkwood Dean of Global Learning Dawn Wood in a release. “While they’re here, these great students will develop global workforce and leadership skills. At the same time, they will also bring with them the knowledge and experience of cultures that people in the Kirkwood community may not have been exposed to before. It’s really a wonderful global learning opportunity for everyone involved.”

In Illinois, College of DuPage has welcomed 18 students from around the world. The students are participating in a CCI-initiated pilot program designed to build knowledge about the current media landscape and develop media literacy skills, including the ability to understand and counter misinformation and disinformation.

For Ukrainian student Zoia Shumak, studying in the U.S. has long been a dream of hers.

“I always thought that studying in the U.S. would be an opportunity for me to develop myself academically, professionally and personally,” she said. “And now that I’m here, it’s a completely different culture, another approach to studying and everything is different from what I am used to. This is a life-changing adventure.”

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.