CDAF 2022 Winners

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund (CDAF) competition! The winning teams reflect a diverse range of exchange programs and various communities across the United States.

CDAF was launched in 2019 to empower U.S. citizen alumni of U.S. government sponsored exchange programs (ExchangeAlumni) to support their communities and build on their exchange program skills. To date, 189 teams of U.S. citizen ExchangeAlumni have been granted over $1.5 million to build on their exchange programs skills and address the needs of their communities.

Distribution of 2022 CDAF winners. Map created by the Office of Alumni Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Meet the 2022 CDAF Teams

Backyard Sessions 2022: In the Lab Edition is a week-long professional development project offering local Denver hip hop dancers, music producers, and youth arts education providers the opportunity to explore new ideas, take risks, and learn new processes for creating performance work. Alumni Team: Lisa Engelken (Next Level) and Aaron Ladley (Next Level) 

Breaking the Mold: Shattering Cultural Barriers via an International Exchange of Pottery and Earthenware aims to address the loss of communal spaces and regularly scheduled gatherings through an international pottery exchange initiative. Local artists from Okayama, Japan, and Colorado, USA, will create pieces of earthenware that feature their unique pottery styles in exchange for an unfamiliar style of pottery, using art as a vehicle for cultural exchange. Alumni Team: David Anderson (Fulbright U.S. Student Program) and Natalie Montecino (Critical Language Scholarship)

Bridges Across the Pacific: English Language & Skills Exchange to Prevent Human Trafficking focuses on preventing trafficking before it starts by increasing access to economic opportunities and by teaching English and valuable workforce readiness skills such as digital literacy, internet safety,  teamwork, and leadership to Vietnamese youth. Alumni Team: Peter P. (National Security Language Initiative for Youth) and Jade F. (Gilman, Benjamin A. International Scholarship Program)

Building Community through Language and Art in Malta is a three-week summer class series designed for and with local and migrant women. During the program, arts based activities will be woven into English language classes and culminate in weekly events co-produced with local organizations to emphasize the importance of community engagement and  initiate and nurture relationships across differences. Alumni Team: Abbie Hebein (Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program) and Diana Zamudio (Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching)

Building Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in the Daly City Filipino Community seeks to jumpstart the professional development of young social entrepreneurs in the Filipino American community, with a focus on youth in Daly City, CA. Through a culturally relevant and community-based workshop, this project will provide youth with strong examples of Filipino American professionals and their career paths. Alumni Team: Christian Guerrero (Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program) and Jade Fong (Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program)

Critical Language and Pronunciation for Students (CLAPS) aims to instill in underserved elementary and middle school students a passion for language learning and close the existing achievement gap. This virtual after-school program for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s neighborhood schools will introduce participants to eight critical languages, with an emphasis on language fundamentals, pronunciation, and cultural competence. Alumni Team: Brooklyn Burgess (National Security Language Initiative for Youth) and Kristie Moore (Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute)

Dancing to Connect Vietnam 2022 is a collaboration between Battery Dance of New York and Arabesque Vietnam, and includes youth engagement workshops in Danang and Hoi An, Vietnam. The project will train eight Arabesque teaching artists to conduct Dancing to Connect workshops, with both companies taking part in a final performance in Danang and a studio showing in Ho Chi Minh City. Alumni Team: Jonathan Hollander (Fulbright Specialist Program) and Tan Loc Nguyen (Center Stage)

Echoes & Footprints: Exploring Candombe and the Afro-Uruguayan Experience will document Uruguay’s Candombe, a percussion musical form and socio-cultural space recognized by UNESCO in 2004 as an intangible world heritage asset, and teach local Uruguayans how to most efficiently promote it to the United States using the most modern digital marketing tools. Alumni Team: Christopher Johansen (Peace Corps) and Carl Triplehorn (Peace Corps)

Ecopreneurship: Empowering Women in the Cham Islands focuses on the commitment by the Cham Islands of Vietnam to eliminate plastic waste on the island by 2025. The project will support sustainable development efforts and lasting impact by implementing a refillable shop model to reduce the use of plastic waste, and enhancing the existing Material Recovery Facility (MRF) with the addition of a compost center for local farmers. Alumni Team: Caressa Nguyen (Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program) and Mynhan Do (Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program)

Empowering Nigerian Youths to Think Critically About Energy focuses on increasing the energy literacy and critical thinking skills of high school students in Nigeria. Regional workshops will connect global energy experts with secondary school science teachers. The project ends with a competition in which students demonstrate their critical thinking skills and grasp of energy concepts by examining energy solutions for Nigeria’s future. Alumni Team: Maria Silvia Guimaraes Biagini (Fulbright Foreign Student Program) and Caroline Obiageli  Emeka-Ogbonna (Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program)

Empowering Paraguayan Communities Through Birding will focus on training members of OPADES Birding Team and local community members near Ybycuí National Park, Paraguay in ecotourism strategies with a focus on birdwatching. The goal of the project is to provide an alternative income generating opportunity in an underserved community and promote sustainable conservation efforts to help protect the vulnerable Atlantic Forest. Alumni Team: Emma Walker (Peace Corps) and Cristhian Fretes (Becas Hayes)

Enhancing Production & Marketing of Tunisian Olive Oil: Path to Financial Sustainability & Democracy builds on the long-standing socio-economic heritage of Tunisian olive oil, a backbone of the Tunisian economy. It also aims to improve the financial sustainability of the country, which will support Tunisian efforts for democracy. Alumni Team: Charlotte M. (Fulbright Specialist Program) and Mohamed K. (BridgeUSA Scholar) 

Exchange Alumni Ambassador Program is a professional development and outreach program created by and for historically underserved students to help promote international education programs funded by the U.S. Department of State and more equitable representation. Alumni Team: Elizabeth Garcia (Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program) and Cornelius T. Finley (Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program)

Greenworks: Artistically Beautifying Trashed Channels in Eastern Indonesia addresses eastern Indonesia’s long-standing issue of poor garbage management, particularly on the populous island of Ternate in North Maluku. By highlighting that these shared spaces can be beautiful, the project aims to discourage people from using them as garbage dumps, instead, redirecting garbage to locations like Khairun University where garbage can be processed  more responsibly. Alumni Team: Lev Horodyskyj (Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program) and Halikuddin Umasangaji (Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program)

Implementing a Strengths Mindset to Build Resilience in Africa seeks to build and pilot a strengths-based leadership curriculum that can be used to train NGO leaders across Africa to improve the positive mindset and resilience of their constituents. Alumni Team: Lorraine McCamley (Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange) and Sènou Samson Francis Degbegni (Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders)

International Women’s Resource Center (IWRC) will be a community of learning, support, and resources for immigrant women. IWRC will provide  basic education, family literacy, health literacy, workforce preparation, and community building services in-house or through partnerships in Los Angeles. Alumni Team: Katherine Neginskiy (Fulbright Specialist) and Iryna Aleksieieva (Professional Fellows)

JaZz Rendezvous will highlight the role jazz plays in the quest for freedom, democracy, and civil rights through a multi-day event in Grand Bassam and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The event includes a fashion show, a special exhibition, and other events to celebrate the diversity of jazz culture. Alumni Team: Darlene Kilian (English Language Fellow Program) and Koffi Tizie Bi (International Visitor Leadership Program)

Localizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Palapye SDG Champions will create a cohort of “SDG Champions” in the Serowe/Palapye district of Botswana to increase their awareness and understanding of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they can be supported at the local level. Alumni Team: Sara Damon (Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program) and Tebatso Jokonya (YALI Regional Leadership Center (RLC))

MentorRing Alumni is a resource and cloud-based platform for exchange program alumni to share their strategies and guidance with new exchange participants, and help shape the next generation of exchange participants. Alumni Team: David Claflin (Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals) and Benjamin Claflin (Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange)

Parents Mobile Academy (PMA) is a community project that will provide activities for 100 parents from underserved communities in Bacolod and Manilla, Philippines, to upskill, learn  about relevant issues affecting children and families, and engage in community building. Alumni Team: Stephany Anderson (Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms) and Donah Banaticla (International Leaders in Education Program)

Projeto Hip Hop BR-US promotes education, entrepreneurship, and community-building through hip-hop culture. The objective is to engage and collaborate with communities of practice in order to learn from one another and co-create work that will culminate in a presentation during the end of project celebration. Alumni Team: Aaron Myers (Next Level) and Jonathan Souza (Next Level)

Reading to Learn: A peer mentoring program is a peer tutoring reading program that will empower students to improve comprehension of texts and hopefully develop a pleasure for reading using two research-based strategies: teacher modeling and peer tutoring. Alumni Team: Nichole G. (Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program) and Shermy M. (Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program)

Resilience augmented comic book and street art workshops in Bogota, Colombia uses comic book workshops and augmented reality mural painting for disadvantaged girls in a cultural center run by Fundación Niñas de Luz in Bogota, Colombia. Alumni Team: Ram Devineni (American Arts Incubator Program) and Natalia Ponce De Leon (Eisenhower Fellowships Program)

Resilient Words project will host a series of podcasts recorded live at the Bowery Poetry Club featuring interviews with writers and poets whose work addresses compelling social issues and discusses their personal stories. The goal is to present the issues in a creative and literary way and make the issues personal from poets and writers who have experienced these problems and thought deeply about them before putting them into words. Alumni Team: Bob Holman (International Writing Program) and Ram Devineni (American Arts Incubator Program)

Scaling Professional Development in Online STEM Education in Senegal aims to scale online STEM education and foster education resilience in Senegal. The project provides STEM high school teachers with tools, practices, and ideas for effective online education, diverse online STEM activities, and knowledge on STEM careers to better motivate and inform their students. Alumni Team: Christelle Scharff (Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program) and Babacar Diop (YALI Regional Leadership Center)

Steps to Success: Empowering Women Leaders in Rural Morocco will provide a series of trainings for women leaders from rural communities in the Beni Mellal-Khenifra province of Morocco to increase the participation and effectiveness of female representatives in local government councils. Alumni Team: Benjamin Jones (Peace Corps) and Said Achhabou (International Visitor Leadership Program)

Stories of Family Separation: Oral Histories of the Cold War is a documentary podcast project that aims to collect oral histories of individuals who have had first-hand experiences of being separated from their family members due to events related to the Cold War. The project will interview individuals who have lived through the Korean War, Vietnam War, and other conflicts. Alumni Team: Mailé Orr (Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program) and Eugene Lee (Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program)

Strengthening Conservation and Tourism Organizations of Lima´s National Parks System is designed to develop a sustainable outdoor recreation tourist industry in the deserts north of Lima, Peru. The project seeks to share the expertise of the United States National/Federal Land Management system around balancing ecosystem stability with commercial recreation that takes place on federal lands. Alumni Team: Shane Barrow (Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative) and Aldo Saavedra Romero (Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative)

Teachers’ Writing: Creating Community and Connection Across Cultures is a partnership between the Manchester School District in New Hampshire and the Hato Mayor District in the Dominican Republic. Teacher-leaders from the two communities will participate in a two-week institute focused on the teaching of writing in a second or other language. Alumni Team: Meg Petersen (Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program) and Luis Silvestre (Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) Program)

The Arca Project aims to develop leadership skills and community building among young artists from underserved communities in Mexico City, Mexico. Participants will work together using art and technology to execute a project and share the knowledge, tools, and resources they’ve acquired with their individual communities. Alumni Team: Jessica Davis (Next Level) and Miguel Rojas (Next Level)

The Global AfroxChange Conference 2.0 will gather Black-led study abroad organizations serving underrepresented students across the U.S. with international educational experiences to address the barriers that these organizations face in providing education abroad experiences for their students. Alumni Team: Shomari Maynard (Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program) and Harriet Browne (Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program)

The Role of Local Communities in the Context of Global Affairs: A Focus on Social Entrepreneurship Communities and Diplomacy seeks to build a more robust public-private ecosystem to support social entrepreneurs. The objective is to better support social entrepreneurs and create opportunities to unleash the talent of Ukrainian refugees. Alumni Team: Theresa Carrington (U.S. Speakers Program) and Stefan Cibian (BridgeUSA Secondary School Student)

Uganda Women’s Beekeeping Cooperative: An Initiative for Economic Empowerment and Environmental Conservation will address the lack of economic opportunity for women in Uganda as well as promote environmental conservation through beekeeping. The beekeeping project will equip women with the skills, resources, and knowledge to increase their income, improve their livelihoods, and contribute to a more climate-resilient environment. Alumni Team: Kathryn Kutzner (Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange) and Diana Nalwoga (Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders)

U.S LatinXchange Alumni Speaker Series will bring together Latinx exchange applicants, grantees, and alumni to establish a community, provide leadership opportunities, and inspire future Latinx exchange program applicants to study abroad. A speaker series featuring Latinx alumni of U.S. exchange programs will discuss various topics about overcoming barriers to studying abroad. Alumni Team: Cheyenne Garcia (Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program) and Elena Perez (Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

U.S.-North Korea-South Korea Youth Workshop: Envisioning Peace on the Korean Peninsula in 2050 will address the dearth of youth perspectives in peacebuilding and policymaking processes of the U.S.-ROK-DPRK trilateral relations. Youth from the United States, South Korea, and North Korea will collaboratively design a series of creative policy proposals with feedback from experienced policy and diplomacy professionals. Alumni Team: Julie Huynh (Critical Language Scholarship) and Joseph Gomez (Critical Language Scholarship)

Ukrainian Leaders Development Program: TESOL Innovations, Collaborations and Results is a professional development project for Ukrainian teachers and students of English from underserved regions of Ukraine. The program will feature 10 virtual teacher training workshops on a variety of topics, such as Cultivating Conversation and Cultural Curiosity; Academic Writing Strategies; and more. Alumni Team: Nicholas Gordon (English Language Fellows Program) and Jose Perea (English Language Fellows Program)

USG Alumni-led Workshops to organize and train Palm Sap collectors in the processing and marketing of high-value Bioethanol Products from Nypa fruticans consists of two five-day capacity-building workshops aimed at training rural underemployed workers in The Philippines to become Cooperative Members and Entrepreneurs. Alumni Team: Fiorello Abenes (Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program) and Jan Rich Guira (Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program)

Women’s Empowerment Through Sport: Development Camp for High School Track and Field Coaches and Women Athletes will address the lack of equity in sport that still exists between genders and in underserved communities. The ultimate goal is to empower camp participants to embrace their potential and become successful leaders. Alumni Team: Shannon Rowbury (Sports Envoys Program) and Rose Monday (Sports Envoys Program)

Youth International Leadership Initiative (YILI) seeks to increase the involvement of diverse students and recent graduates in international affairs opportunities and careers. The organization’s goal is to make the international affairs field more accessible and equitable through mentorship, guidance, and other learning opportunities. Alumni Team: Kyla Denwood (Expo Youth Ambassadors) and Kali Dykstra (Expo Youth Ambassadors)

This article has been edited for length. Read the full announcement on the U.S. Department of State ExchangeAlumni website here.