My jam: Not blackberry (yum!) but community building, with AC Ashley J. 

What do you jam out to? My jams are bringing people together and creating community. 

I am lucky to get to build a team of amazing local academic coordinators to grow an exchange student program in my home state.  When I took on this project, part of it’s appeal was that it resonated with my values. One of those values is cultural exchange. The other is community building. 
One of my local coordinators took a group of her kids out roller skating last week. Watching the video, I found myself smiling from ear to ear. 

So, that video is clearly delightful. 

No explanation required. 

After watching it I asked Ashley if she would write up what she loves about being a local coordinator. 


Hello, my name is Ashley and I am an academic coordinator for Cultural Homestay International! As soon as I heard about this opportunity, I never questioned whether or not it was for me. I knew that I wanted to share my culture, values, and life experiences with young adults. I knew that I could make a difference in their lives and I also knew that they could make a difference in mine.

What I do as a coordinator is support my students and host families with whatever they might need. My job is to ensure that everyone is learning, growing, and having fun! I understand that my job is part of a bigger picture. I am here to help change lives and my impact is very vast! As a coordinator, my influence is global and I am promoting trust and understanding between nations to help build a more peaceful world!

Being a coordinator opens up your mind. You get to experience another culture while simultaneously sharing your own. This has been very therapeutic for me. You are a mentor for these children and when you learn and grow together-the experience is enlightening. Being a coordinator also opens up your heart. You are a part of making a student’s dreams come true by them being able to come live in America! When you work with these kids, you establish relationships and so they begin to share their experiences with you. You become humbled by these experiences and it changes your heart and the way you feel about the world.

This program helped me bond with new people and brought me closer to my community! I have created relationships with people in my community that I would have never even known they existed without CHI. I have become more involved with the schools, churches, and other non-profit organizations.

Being an academic coordinator with CHI has been an incredible experience so far and I cannot wait to see what this next year has to offer!


 What I love is that Ashley demonstrates bringing her kids together and giving them an opportunity to build community while having fun. I do think it’s awesome that these budding relationships are global ones and make the world more connected. 

Our team is growing as I work to get us established across the state of Virginia. 

I think it’s important to be able to say, “Yep. That’s my jam.”

Jam (noun): sticky topping made of fruit, often served on toast

Jam (noun): a person’s activity in line with their values, skills, and interests which causes more frequent involuntary smiling and occasional spontaneous dancing 

The second one! That’s what I’m taking about (though I really like blackberry with butter on an English muffin). 

I feel so very fortunate to know about myself that community building and cultural exchange (sorry, blackberry) is what occasionally leads me to solitary happy dances. 

That’s my jam and I’m glad Ashley (and the rest of our awesome team) are jamming out with me. 

What’s yours? 


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