The experience of traveling abroad and exploring another culture is a life-changing adventure that inspires the transformation of individual perspectives. Each year, CCI Greenheart’s High School Programs work with hundreds of international high school students to pair them with Americans who host, teach, guide, and befriend these youths. Our goal is to not only open the minds of these young visitors, but also the minds of Americans who interact with them. It is an essential pursuit in overcoming the global challenges we face today.
2016 was difficult for a number of reasons, but perhaps none more so than the political climate in the United States. We at Greenheart are challenged to rise above instincts of fight, flight, or freeze. Instead, we choose to interact, engage, and share with others who may hold views vastly different from our own. To this end, Greenheart provides individuals with opportunities to widen personal perspectives.
Anthropologist Franz Boas used the term Kulutrbrille, which literally means “cultural glasses”, to explain that no one can truly perceive reality or the reality others see. We are not able to avoid these glasses, and many of us are not even aware that we are wearing them. Cultural exchange programs seek to transform the way in which participants see the world by offering a glimpse through a universal lens, resulting in expanded worldviews.
Whether for a few weeks or an entire school year, each of our programs creates possibilities for international youth to authentically experience American culture through their host families, friends, and schools by engaging in American traditions firsthand. This allows all involved to recognize false stereotypes, to meet people who may not have the ability to travel outside the 50 states, and to bond with people who can become friends or surrogate family and remain in their hearts for a lifetime.
As a global family, we face challenges that appear insurmountable at times. However, by connecting people from around the world, we see what amazing, transformative things can be achieved. We will continue to strive for this in 2017 by providing as many quality opportunities as possible.
Vice President, High School Programs