After a gap of almost 30 years, the Fulbright Foundation in Greece has decided to once more support participation in the Building Bridges Program, administered in the U.S. by the Council of International Programs U.S.A. - CIPUSA. The Building Bridges Program is addressed to Greek professionals in the fields of social work and NGO administration who wish to enhance their knowledge and skills by observing and interacting with colleagues in the United States.
Building bridges among cultures has been the heart of CIPUSA programming from its inception. It strives to foster a better understanding of each other, our professions, and our communities. To help promote its mission, CIPUSA has developed the Building Bridges Program, a six-week professional development program under the Civil Society Theme: Social Services and NGO Administration. The program focuses on personal development, professional development, and community impact. In addition to fostering introspection and career development, the program aims to give participants the tools to better understand their host community in the U.S. and their own hometowns and to build a bridge to connect the two communities internationally.
While on the program, participants will be placed at a training site related to their field up to 32 hours a week where they will learn about the U.S.-side of their profession through observation, discussion, and some hands-on activities. For the remainder of each week, time will be put towards a comparable learning project, cultural/educational activities, and volunteerism. At the end of the program each participant will share what they have learned during the program with CIPUSA and the host community.
Each program includes opportunities to:
• Meet colleagues in their profession and learn about their professional field first hand
• Learn and compare professions
• Explore educational and cultural institutions
• Volunteer at a community event
• Understand another country’s culture and life through host family living
• Network with international professionals in the field of Social Services and NGO Administration
• Join the CIPUSA alumni forum
At the beginning of each program, newly arrived participants will receive an orientation on life in the U.S., their local communities, and specific information on the program itself. CIPUSA staff will be available to assist them throughout the program. CIPUSA staff will also touch base with them weekly to see how their program is progressing. There will be a closing ceremony at the end of the program during which each participant will receive a certificate of completion and an opportunity to formally say farewell to all involved.
Each program includes:
Professional Training – Participants will be placed at a training site(s) in their desired field of training up to 32 hours a week (approximately 4 days a week). While there the participant will be able to observe, network, and learn through various activities or projects.
Comparable Learning Project – Participants will learn about their field from a U.S. perspective and compare it to their work back home. At the end of the program participants will share their comparable learning discoveries to CIPUSA and their training site colleagues in the U.S as well as with their organizations back home. Each project will be added to the CIPUSA Alumni website page - https://www.cipusa.org – and to the Fulbright website page – www.fulbright.gr . Projects can be creative from a typical typed paper to a photo collage. Guidelines for the project will be given to the participant prior to their arrival to the U.S. CIPUSA staff will meet with them throughout the program to ensure the project is moving forward.
Cultural/Educational Activities – Participants will engage in local cultural and educational activities. CIPUSA will arrange two activities during the program but it expects participants during their free time to explore their host city on their own.
Volunteering – This is an important component of the program as it is embedded in American culture and volunteering is believed to be the way for individuals to “make a difference” in their communities and the world. Volunteering is highly valued and is considered one of the top activities outside of school and work life for individuals, families, and social and professional groups. CIPUSA will provide participants with a list of volunteer activities and will arrange the volunteer activity they choose. CIPUSA expects participants to volunteer in one activity during the program. Local volunteer activities with community members can include cooking and serving meals to homeless teens, making arts and crafts with residents of a nursing home, community revitalization, etc.
Global Classrooms – Participants will visit with a school (K-12) to have an informal open and friendly exchange of cultural knowledge. CIPUSA would like to provide communities, especially the school age children, the opportunity to meet, engage and learn about our participants from around the world. For this program, CIPUSA will engage in a setting where kids can feel open to ask questions about a “typical school day” or “how is life in your country.” The goal is to have an exchange of knowledge that benefits the local community as well as the international participants.
Professional Perspectives – Participants will arrange an informal discussion with their colleagues to have an open and friendly exchange of cultural and professional knowledge with employees from their training site. CIPUSA would like to provide the training site an opportunity to openly learn about the participant and his/her home country. For this program, CIPUSA can provide lunch to the training site in an informal setting where professionals can feel open to ask questions about a participant’s home country and culture or how a specific professional field is conducted in their home country. The goal is to have an exchange of knowledge that benefits the employees of the training site as well as the international participants.
Host Family Living – Participants will live with host families during their six weeks. Some participants may live with more than one host family. Participants will be provided a private room, shared bath, and breakfast and dinners. Participants should expect to pay for their own lunches. Host family living is a hallmark of the CIPUSA program. CIPUSA truly believes that this is where the true understanding of one another takes place. Living in a “typical” American home and engaging with your family on their daily activities will allow for a greater understanding of each other. Host families volunteer to do this because they want a chance to meet someone new, want to learn about life and customs of another country, are open-minded to the idea of sharing their home with someone. CIPUSA expects participants to engage and interact with their host families. Many times the relationships that are made during a hosting experience are so great they last a lifetime and span generations of family members.
Networking – Each participant will have opportunities to network with U.S. colleagues and international colleagues that are on their program. Participants will also have opportunities to meet with people from the local community. Various opportunities will be provided by CIPUSA however it is up to the individuals to assert themselves.
Alumni Forum – After completion of the program each participant will be able to join the CIPUSA alumni network via our private alumni website page. Here alumni can network, share recent accomplishments, ask questions and participate in ongoing educational online opportunities.
Evaluations – Participants will complete various evaluations to provide us the essential feedback we need to continue these essential programs. CIPUSA will provide the best program to our ability and expect the participants who join the program to understand our expectations and commit to the program.
ELIGIBILITY AND REQUIREMENTS
• Have an open-minded attitude
• Engage in host family living
• Complete a comparable learning project and present at the end of the program
• Conduct a presentation about your profession and home country
• Volunteer at an arranged activity
• Join the CIPUSA Alumni forum
• Complete required evaluations
• Share their experience with CIPUSA though an article for the newsletter, blog or picture story
• Be a Program Ambassador and help CIPUSA by sharing their experiences with their colleagues and help us with recruitment or establishing their own alumni group back home
• Not travel outside of their hosting city during the six-week program. If a participant is interested in traveling they are asked to do so BEFORE or AFTER the six-week program. Please inform CIPUSA if you plan on traveling, as this will effect the dates on your visa.
• Not have family or friends visit during the six-week program. Time for visits can be arranged BEFORE or AFTER the program. Please inform CIPUSA if you are expecting visitors.
Two Greek social workers participated in the Building Bridges Program of September 20-November 1, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona.
New opportunities will be announced on the Fulbright website when available.