Exchange Matters / April 26, 2016

From Beijing to Denver to Washington, DC: The Meet America Program

It is clear that international exchange provides incredible benefits for both visitors and the communities that welcome them. As the number of international students studying at U.S. universities rises, the need to capitalize on their time here become apparent. The Meet America Program is designed to help international students and local communities build mutually benefical connections. The most recent Meet America Program began on March 20, 2016, when Global Ties U.S. welcomed a group of Chinese international students from the Beijing Agricultural University to Washington, DC. The students are currently completing two years of study abroad at the University of Colorado Denver. The Meet America Program provided an opportunity for the group of students to hone their professional skills, while helping them build concrete connections with U.S. communities.

Jet lagged, but excited, the group kicked off their week with resume and interview preparation as well as an informative workshop on SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) Analysis. Global Ties Program Manager, Franzi Rook, led the workshop, encouraging the students to think critically about the skills they have to offer a workplace, as well as what resources exist to propel their own careers. One participant reflected on the SWOT workshop: “[SWOT analysis] is really useful, because before I just knew it could be used to analyze firms. But now I know how to use this method to analyze myself to focus on strengths and skills I need to develop further.” Afterward, the group visited the George Washington University for a campus tour and introduction into the university’s prestigious master’s programs.They heard from two current international graduate students to discuss their experiences transitioning into higher education in the U.S.

The program continued with a meeting with Hongyu Niu, an alumnus of the UCD-Beijing exchange program and graduate student at Georgetown University, who shared her academic and cultural experiences. Afterward, Georgetown University Graduate Admissions hosted a private session and tour for the students. In the evening, Christina Hyde, career coach and program specialist at the Peace Corps, led an interactive mock interview workshop which the students found insightful. One participant stated, “Interviewing in my second language is one of the things I am afraid most of. This provided us with tips and skills to standout from other candidates.”

One of the more popular sessions was the group’s meeting with Market Sales Leader, Joe Stern, of Marriott International. They discussed hospitality in a global setting and job opportunities at the Marriott. Mr. Stern elaborated on the many levels of leadership that exist within the organization, and how Marriott implements multi-layer marketing strategies to address local and global needs. In keeping with a treasured exchange program experience, home hospitality, the students were hosted for dinner by Global Ties U.S. President Jennifer Clinton and her family, giving the group an opportunity to experience American home life.

The next morning was spent at the U.S. Capitol where the students received a tour and learned more about the rich history behind the landmark buiding and this country. The group then met World Bank Water and Sanitation Program consultants David Sobel and Shiqing Li to discuss their respective career paths and the company culture within multinational organizations. Mr. Sobel, a University of Colorado graduate, and Ms. Li, a former international student from China, shared advice on what makes a person marketable for this industry and how to succeed in a competitive workplace.

To encapsulate their experience in Washington, DC, the final day was spent with Capital Communications Group President, Akram Elias, in a workshop on leadership and career planning. Mr. Elias, who often briefs International Visitor Leadership Program groups, discussed strategic career goals and recognizing prospects for future opportunities. The program ended with a brainstorming session on improving integration of international students into college communities, and which resources could be utilized and improved to better address foreigners’ needs.

The day-to-day events of the Meet America Program, paired with the opportunities to interact within local communities and help develop integral connections. Students and young professionals have the chance to learn about opportunities that await them as they enter into the global marketplace, while also experiencing American life and hospitality. The benefits of these experiences are immeasurable, allowing international students a head start in the professional world and the opportunity to strengthen global friendships. The connections that are made through the Meet America Program help foster understanding between nations and cultures, which will enrich not only the international

By Erin Hensley, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S.