"Involving or bridging the differences between cultures." - the definition of cross-cultural. "To give something in return for something received." The definition of exchange. I sit here musing over why anybody would pass a bill that endangers this powerful opportunity for the youth of today, and I am perplexed.
I write to you as a former counselor, a cultural ambassador for New Zealand and the United States, a champion for cultural exchange, and the Country Director of CCUSA New Zealand; the organisation responsible for sending hundreds of Kiwis to the USA every year to work as camp counselors, amongst many other positions.
The youth I send to the USA are eager. Eager to learn, to explore, to share and to grow. Eager to provide the opportunity to young American's in camps to learn about countries different to the one they live in. Brave enough and dedicated enough to live there to truly understand those differences, and appreciative enough to come home to New Zealand and share those experiences with their communities.
They learn compassion and understanding for cultures different to their own, as do the children and staff within the camps they work in, as do the wider communities they interact in, as do the States near and far they travel to afterwards. They feel personal growth, as do those around them. They embody global understanding, and pass that knowledge on to the people of America, and then bring it all the way home again.
I am proud of each and every one of them, for they are the leaders of tomorrow. Able to leverage social and cultural differences to create new ideas, increase innovation, expand upon the quality of work and contribute to global understanding.
It would be a sad day, as we strive for a global community and cultural understanding, to loose a program so embodying everything we should be working towards.