Exchange Matters / February 22, 2019

CBM-World Learning Staff Exchange

Left photo: Jodi (far right) with Senator Gary Peters (center) and Marilyn-Saks McMillion; right photo: Laurence (center) at a home hospitality dinner in Kalamazoo, MI.


From September to November 2018, staff from World Learning, a National Program Agency, and Colleagues International, a Community-Based Member, participated in an exchange to better understand the full project cycle of the International Visitor Leadership Program. The following are edited extracts from the reports each participant produced upon program completion.



By Jodi Michaels

My visit to DC was planned by Marilyn Saks-McMillion, who, with her husband Charles, served as one of my amazing host families. One matter that I deeply appreciated was the pacing of the program. It was full, but not overwhelming, and left time to process.

I met so many amazing staff members at World Learning, including the teams for IVLP, youth, and professional exchanges. I was able to identify ways that we could work together, as well as how Community-Based Members (CBMs) can best work with National Program Agencies (NPAs) to make all of our workloads more efficient.

The day at the U.S. Department of State allowed me to get a broad overview of the moving parts of the IVLP and the Office of International Visitors in general. I felt the staff appreciated hearing feedback from the CBM level, as they do not receive this on a consistent basis. The visit to Global Ties U.S. was also helpful, painting a good picture of the many aspects of the network, roles, partnerships, and opportunities for collaboration.

During the visit to Capitol Hill, we met both Michigan senators. It was a great opportunity to thank them for their support, remind them of the need to be champions of exchanges, and to meet our IVLP visitors when they are home in West Michigan.

Attending staff meetings and presenting on our work in Kalamazoo; learning about the programmatic and logistical challenges that NPAs grapple with; and attending an IVLP program opening all gave an interesting perspective on how visitors are prepared to embark on their journey from day one. All of this only scratches the surface of my time in DC.


By Laurence Bezy

As part of the annual staff exchange between World Learning and a CBM), I traveled to Kalamazoo, MI from November 12-15.

I was able to observe how volunteers collaborate with Jodi to strategize fundraising for Colleagues International (CI) during a Fundraising Committee meeting. This allowed me to see the challenges CBMs have of balancing both fundraising and the need to involve and recruit volunteers and donors to help them run their programs.

Over the several meals I shared with Jodi, we discussed her strategies for developing relationships with local resources and creative programming. Jodi, my home hosts, and Judy Huth (CI board member) were passionate about Kalamazoo and shared stories about the city’s generous benefactors and philanthropists.

Jodi recently revamped CI’s quarterly newsletter to make it more appealing and include content that demonstrates how CI’s programs benefit the Kalamazoo community at large. Seeing Jodi handle the tasks involved in producing a newsletter helped me realize all that CBMs are juggling on top of the programming they do for NPAs. Unlike Program Officers at NPAs, CBMs also have to worry about running their organization and keeping it sustainable.

Overall, this exchange was a valuable professional development experience, as it allowed me to see how CBMs operate, experience programming with visitors outside of DC, and understand the level of volunteering and fundraising required to sustain a CBM organization.

Learn more about the World Learning-CBM Staff Exchange and send in your materials to by April 8.