Bringing Local Communities to the Global Forefront
By Jillian Sims
AYP Compliance and Operations Manager
This month, CCI Greenheart interviewed seasoned Local Coordinator (LC), Nancy White of Caldwell, Idaho. Overall, Nancy has placed 0ver 270 students (85 of which were Grants) and has 22 years of experience as field staff. She joined CCI Greenheart in 1997. Read on to learn how Nancy has developed strong connections between her students and communities and hear tips and tricks for successful years as well as the value of a life in cultural exchange. We are so thrilled to be able to highlight her amazing dedication and her exemplary and inspiring work with students.
Why did you decide to become an LC with CCI Greenheart?
I was an LC with another placement organization. Roger White (former Regional Director for Nancy’s region) asked me to monitor a pre-placed student as he had no LC in this area. He was such a wonderful support to me in the field that I continued my career with CCI Greenheart.
What is your favorite memory with your students?
All of my students have been, for the most part, outstanding and the memories are many and pleasant. Over the years we have volunteered with local food banks, domestic violence programs, Special Olympics, Fun Runs that encourage healthy life style as well as fund raisers for charitable causes.
What moment made you realize the larger impact of what you are doing?
No particular moment. Seeing the many accomplishments students report on Facebook is truly inspirational. Reports they have written regarding social ills they’ve become aware of while here is intriguing. They develop plans of attack for similar needs in their home communities. They become motivated to step up and take leadership roles to get something done for improvements.
What do you do when not placing exchange students?
I volunteer for many activities with the mayors of local communities. I volunteer at the state correctional facility. I spend quality time with my 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. I am active in my church.
What have you learned? What is a tip for other LCs? How do you find and arrange activities for your students?
I realize that I have been given an incredible opportunity to impact many lives and I appreciate the blessing this is. It’s the attitude of gratitude that inspires me to want to continue making a difference – and to do it with excellence. Being aware of community events, calls for volunteers, free seminars/classes being offered – these are the kinds of opportunities I look for to expand my students’ chances to broaden their concepts of what they can and wish to do in their futures. I read my newspaper, watch local news on TV, listen to the radio – then follow up with phone calls – to structure activities for the students. I seek to finalize each year’s activities/events and put them on a calendar by “Parent Pre-arrival Orientation” in August. The students get the same calendar at their orientation. That solidifies our event curriculum for the upcoming school year.
Why do you choose to work primarily with Grant students? Can you share any unique experiences you have with them?
I have found that Grant students have preset goals and are focused on gaining a variety of experiences to achieve these goals. They are here for a specific purpose and seem determined to accomplish what they came to do. My part is to provide them with opportunities to do so.
The students in my town and adjacent communities have the privilege of joining Mayors’ Teen Councils. Teen Council members participate in local government functions, community service activities such as “Paint the Town” and “Rake Up” – both of these for elderly or physically handicapped home owners; city and/or highway cleanup projects, fund raising for such entities as Food Banks, Salvation Army and YMCA. They volunteer to assist Special Olympic events. They meet with veterans who have served in the military and are patriotic toward our country. They have field trips to hospitals, fire and police departments, chamber of commerce meetings – and can compare our services with what is available in their home countries. They volunteer with animal shelters and at the local zoo. They have cleaned up graffiti, learning to have pride in keeping the local community a welcome place to live. These are all unique experiences when shared with someone from another culture! Grant students readily participate in each pre-planned activity. AYP students may or may not decide to join.
I started working with exchange students in 1991 at the invitation of my friend/coworker (and fellow CCI Greenheart LC) Judy Miller’s invitation. I came on board with CCI Greenheart in 1997. I began working with Grant students in 2003. Judy had been involved as an early leader with Grant students. She shared the vision with me; thus my focus was redirected. Together we visit the state legislature with our two clusters annually. We join together for Global youth Service Day at Sun Valley, Idaho, where we also conduct a leadership workshop along with the local Mayor. We take the students on one final overnight activity to Yellowstone National Park. Students do community service and visit businesses, getting a final one- on-one with restaurant, gift shop and motel owners.
Nancy will be attending the Buenos Aires Conference in February. When asked what has been her greatest travel adventure, she had these inspiring words to share:
Thank you for the awesome opportunities you have given me! My life is full and happy! At age 72 I am not “retired” but “refired” and looking forward to the next adventure! I have loved all the trips – especially when I had the option of taking someone with me. I have taken my son, my daughter my best friend, my old aunt, my granddaughter, 2 sisters, and even an exchange student – wow! There is no other “career” where I can share the fruits of my labor with a loved one. My cup overflows and I am filled with gratitude and appreciation to CCI Greenheart. I have been given a unique opportunity and I treasure all that it has meant to me and my “significant others.”
Interested in some of the opportunities and experiences Nancy has shared? Click here to find out how you can become an LC with CCI Greenheart.