By Jillian Sims: High School Programs Compliance and Operations Manager
When CCI Greenheart thinks Mobile, AL, we think about our awesome Local Coordinator, Adrienne Tate. Adrienne has placed a total of 33 J1 Academic Year students since just 2012, not including those that she places in our Short Term programs. But beyond being a high placer, Adrienne is known for her positive attitude, and passion for her students and families. When we asked what she does outside of placing and monitoring her students, she laughingly replied “When is that?” She and her husband have two children, and outside of spending time with her students, Adrienne makes room for family time and her own business.
Sometimes, she even gets a chance to travel because of her work with CCI Greenheart, including two international conferences. In February of 2014, Adrienne earned enough points by placing and monitoring students to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Incredibly, she did it for a second year in a row and this year traveled to Madrid, Spain and joined in celebrating CCI Greenheart’s “30 Years of Creating Global Leaders.” While the location of the conferences is incentive alone, Adrienne also finds great value in having the chance to mingle with other field staff, leadership, and even our foreign sending partners.
“It helps you become a better LC when you can pick the brain of others that have gone through much more than you have,” Adrienne says.
“I also liked being able to talk to the partners from the countries we receive students from. Talking to them about the process they go through and the information that is given to their kids before they come. They answer questions and give you a better understanding of the children you place. I would recommend (attending a conference) because you learn so much from each other and from the partners. You create a bond with other LCs/RMs/RDs that is worth so much in the long run. Plus, you experience another culture unlike your own and go though adapting process we ask our students to do on a daily basis.”
For Adrienne, having a good support system and being genuinely supportive of her students and their experiences is such an important part of her role. She joined CCI Greenheart in 2012 in part because of the evident team atmosphere that she felt from her now Regional Manager, Carol Arbush, who suggested she should join her team. “After working with her and Connie Dean (Executive Regional Director), I started gaining the wonderful feeling I had when working with the students and the families. I love being able to connect students with their forever families and seeing their faces light up when they finally meet face to face. I love when we talk about their experiences and the way they fall in love with their new American family.”
Adrienne loves seeing her students and families in action, too. Whether it is having fun with students teaching them holiday games like “Lefty the Elf” or seeing them learn the value of volunteering, these are the moments that make everything meaningful for Adrienne. She is particularly proud of two of her students who volunteer at their host family’s soup kitchen ministry “Ransom Cafe’.”
The students, Reinhold from Germany and Jeerawat (Bie) from Thailand, have fulfilled more than the 8 hours of required community service that CCI Greenheart asks its students to fulfill. The boys go above and beyond, serving food, helping on holidays, and even being camp counselor’s. “It has changed their outlook on volunteering forever and I believe that they will continue on when they return home….But I am proud of all my kids that have come here and learned how to adapt to another culture, to be open-minded to try things, and to have the courage to just be here,” Adrienne says, not wanting to forget the basic crowning achievement of any exchange student.
It seems fitting then, that the moment that she feels the most impact and pride from being an LC is also a bit of the most bittersweet for students and families. She speaks about the teary scenes at the airports at the end of a successful exchange:
“They have truly become a part of another family so deeply that they have a hard time resuming their lives in their home country. They will take what they have learned back with them, and pass it along to other that want to do the same. The more children we give that chance to, the more misconceptions about each others countries will cease to exist.”
With over 30 student placements under her belt, it also makes sense that Adrienne has picked up a few tidbits of advice along the way. They fall into 3 categories and are helpful to both new and seasoned LCs:
- Recruiting: “Talk to any and every one… step outside your comfort zone, but also play on your strengths,” Adrienne advises. One of those strengths, she points out, is your personal story. “Tell them why you do what you do and what they will gain from taking a chance on this opportunity.”
- Conflict Management: When it comes to dealing with student issues, Adrienne has some great advice for LCs. She advises, “Sit the family down, get a notebook, and us a page for the student, one for the family, and one for your thoughts. You let the student talk with no interruptions, then the family, and then you tell them what you heard and the suggestions you have or them. Document everything that is said and also what you said. The more detailed notes you have, the better when it comes to letting CCI Greenheart know and what they can tell the partner and natural parents. Always make them feel you are the non-biased party and you are there to help them with the problems so that they can have a better bond/connection with their families.” Most importantly, she adds, “Make sure that your students and families know that you are there for them at all times.”
- Support: Adrienne has come to value and rely on the support that her CCI Greenheart family offers when difficult situations arise. When she felt challenged, she recalls how a healthy support system kept her motivated. “But with the consistent encouragement I received from my Regional Manager and Executive Regional Director, I made it through the rough times. They gave me advice, tips to talk to students and families and words of encouragement to help me through dilemmas.”
Local Coordinators like Adrienne provide so much, not only to their students and host families, but also to the community and ultimately the global perspective as we work towards “Creating Global Leaders” at CCI Greenheart. Interested in being part of this mission? Check out how to become an LC in your community or visit CCI Greenheart to learn more about hosting and working with a great LC like Adrienne in your area!