A.C.E. - Associates in Cultural Exchange

Brazilian Scholars for English and STEM Training Bring Positive Energy to A.C.E.

BSMP Students

Brazilian STEM students engage in English training at A.C.E. at URI.

As Brazilians brought positive energy to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazilian students through the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP) program are doing the same at A.C.E. Language Institutes.

BSMP is part of a Brazilian government initiative to send 100,000 fully-funded students abroad over the course of 3 years for non-degree training in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. A.C.E. currently hosts 47 BSMP students across all of our language institutes. The program provides intensive English training to scholars with lower levels of proficiency before beginning their academic programs in the STEM fields. After an academic year of study in the United States, BSMP students return to Brazil to complete their undergraduate degrees.

The drive of BSMP students has helped to motivate lower performing students.

As upper level undergraduates, BSMP students enter A.C.E. Language Institutes with more experience of university academic life than many A.C.E. students. Ben Hsu, Instructor at A.C.E. Language Institute at Seattle Pacific University, observed that since “BSMP students were already in university for two years, they have a more realistic idea of what is expected from them in an academic environment.”  Ben draws upon that experience by specifically pairing BSMP students with classmates who may be struggling. The drive of BSMP students has helped to motivate lower performing students, and the results are shown through a boost in confidence.

Rosemar, a BSMP student at A.C.E. at SPU, enjoys the shared learning. He states that he just “loves being in class with many cultures that have the common goal of all learning English.”

The cooperative learning is a theme at A.C.E. at Montana State University as well.  BSMP student Vanessa compares her English training at A.C.E. at MSU to her previous programs, noting that A.C.E. curriculum “really demands all my concentration to follow the course” and that “I really think that my English is improving.”

BSMP students are engaging with the campus community.

Though highly focused on academics, BSMP students have also shown themselves to be approachable and outgoing, both inside and outside of the classroom.  At A.C.E. Language Institute at the University of Rhode Island, BSMP students are engaging with the campus community by collaborating with the Department of Modern Languages to help students practice their Portuguese. In coordination with A.C.E. and URI staff, BSMP students regularly participate in language partner activities, movie nights, and social activities with American students. BSMP student Jessiká remarks that she “met new people who I should remember throughout my life” during these extracurricular activities. A.C.E. students find camaraderie even when cheering on their home teams in the World Cup!

Our BSMP students have proven themselves to be excellent students with an amiable disposition and strong academic motivation.  This past July 4th, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff formally announced the BSMP program will continue for another 3-year cycle beginning 2015 with another 100,000 scholarships for Brazilians to study abroad. A.C.E. is excited to continue to host Brazilian students in this next phase of the BSMP program!

A.C.E. Culminates 40th Anniversary Celebration at NAFSA

A.C.E. NAFSA Luncheon

A.C.E. Luncheon at NAFSA

On Wednesday, May 28, friends and staff of Associates in Cultural Exchange commemorated the A.C.E. 40th Anniversary at NAFSA 2014 in San Diego. The luncheon event was a celebration of the dedication, friendship, and hard work committed to our organization by the  friends and family of A.C.E. over the past four decades.  President David Woodward opened the event by welcoming distinguished guests and presenting certificates to members of the A.C.E. International Advisory Council.  Scott Hardman welcomed guests on behalf of the A.C.E. Board of Directors.  In honor of Board member Jeff Parker, BMO Private Bank was acknowledged for their generous support of the luncheon.

View all photos from the event by clicking here.

A.C.E. International Advisory Council members

A.C.E. International Advisory Council members with certificates

Representatives from each A.C.E. host university spoke about their partnership over the years, including Dr. Norman Peterson,  Executive Director of International Programs at Montana State University; Nancy Stricklin, Assistant to the Provost for Global Strategies and Partnerships at the University of Rhode Island; Dr. Ross Stewart, Lead for Global Initiatives at Seattle Pacific University; and Brother Shamus McGrenra, Retiring Director of International Admissions and Student Services at Saint Francis University.

Brother Shamus

Brother Shamus McGrenra speaks

The luncheon also served as a platform for Brother Shamus McGrenra to formally announce his retirement after a 40 year career in the field of international education. A transcript of Brother Shamus’s retirement speech can be downloaded here. Building upon Brother Shamus’ progress, Sam Heikinen was introduced to fulfill his role.

James Donaldson

James Donaldson gives keynote

The culminating keynote speaker was James Donaldson, President & CEO of America China Education Services and A.C.E. IAC member. After his career playing professional basketball in the NBA, James began to promote various study abroad and cultural/sports exchange programs and more recently served as a liaison with Tsinghua University in China.  James inspired the audience with his remarks on building cross-cultural cooperation across organizations to support the youth of the future.

On behalf of the A.C.E. staff, we thank you for your continued support over these past 40 years!


President Woodward welcomes distinguished guests

Download the transcript of Shamus McGrenra’s Speech
View all photos from the event at http://trlphoto.shootproof.com/event/631490/view#a_all-mason



A.C.E. Brazilian Students Meet with SPU Students Preparing to Study in Brazil

A.C.E. students from the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program recently met for a coffee hour with SPU students preparing to study abroad in Brazil. The coffee chat was a great way for students to exchange ideas about their upcoming studies and for the Brazilian students to meet the engineering faculty at SPU.

A.C.E. SPU Brazil Group_5-16-14


A Tribute to Former A.C.E. Board Member Jim Potter

Jim Potter

Jim during the 2009 Study Tour to Oman

By David Woodward, President of A.C.E.
The staff members, board of directors, volunteers and friends of Associates in Cultural Exchange wish to express our profound appreciation for the life of former board chairman, Jim Potter, who passed away on May 6, 2014. Jim joined the A.C.E. Board of Directors in May, 2007, and demonstrated his commitment and initiative from the first meeting on.  Within a short time he was asked to take on the chairmanship of the board, a role he fulfilled from 2008 to 2011.

Jim had already spent a lifetime building, creating, caring and inspiring others around the world, so he was a natural fit with A.C.E.’s commitment to “making the world your community.” Jim’s high school experience in New Zealand as a Rotary exchange student was a life-changing experience which led to his passion for traveling the world and subsequently taking his family to live in Chile for a year in 1997-1998.

Jim on the 2012 Study Tour to Chile and Brazil, visiting cultural sites in Curitiba, Brazil with A.C.E. alumna Paula and her family

Jim on the 2012 Study Tour to Chile and Brazil, visiting cultural sites in Curitiba, Brazil with A.C.E. alumna Paula and her family

In the Pacific Northwest, Jim was a key advocate for getting regional leaders to go abroad on study missions to learn about the bigger world.  He likewise encouraged the A.C.E. Board of Directors to travel as a group leading to a first-ever board retreat outside of Seattle in 2011 on the campus of Montana State University. Never one to miss an opportunity to learn and grow, Jim and his wife Rebecca jumped at the chance to go with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce on its historic trip to the United Arab Emirates and the A.C.E.-led follow on trip to the Sultanate of Oman in 2009. In 2011 Jim and A.C.E. President Woodward traveled together to Brazil to explore opportunities to establish new cultural exchange ties between Brazil and the U.S., following their participation in the Seattle Chamber of Commerce study mission to Chile.


Jim with the A.C.E. Board of Directors at the 2013 WLCA Run About the World

Jim was an enthusiastic supporter of A.C.E., constantly recruiting new board members, sharing enthusiastically about his involvement in international education with friends, and running in The Run About the World for the first two years of this annual community event. Jim was fearless in taking on new adventures, asking great questions, and encouraging those who needed his support.  He was unique in his ability to envision possibilities and to draw people together in order to accomplish great things. Most importantly, Jim always kept his commitments – his word was his bond.

Jim Ranch

Jim and his family welcomed the 2011 Korean educational delegation to visit their home and offered horse rides to guests, including Superintendent Choi

Finally, Jim and Rebecca and their family have been amazingly hospitable with their ranch in Snohomish, welcoming various international visitors hosted by A.C.E. staff, as well as hosting the A.C.E. board of directors for its annual retreat in November 2013. Many a visitor came away feeling blessed by the special opportunity to ride a horse, and receive a traditional welcome to rural family life in America.  The Potters have been a great example of how to make friends no matter the culture.

It was a great honor to have Jim agree to join us 7 years ago in “making the world your community.” Jim embodied what everyone at A.C.E. aims to achieve – a life dedicated to helping people of all cultures to learn to love and help one another. We are inspired by his example and more dedicated than ever to pursue this goal in his memory.”

Read more about Jim in the Seattle Times Obituaries:

A.C.E. Presents Virtual Lecture in Russia on Multicultural Education


Conference attendees in Kursk, Russia watch A.C.E.’s Assistant Vice President Ms. Thomas lecture via Skype

Sally Thomas, A.C.E. Assistant Vice President, participated via Skype in the international research and practice-oriented conference, “Language in Research, Professional and Intercultural Communication: Methods of Teaching”. The conference was hosted by Kursk State Medical University in Kursk, Russia from April 23-26, 2014.

Ms. Thomas presented a lecture titled, “Education and Culture: An American Perspective”. This lecture illustrated what multicultural education looks like from the American perspective in regards to schools, teachers, and students. For students to demonstrate global competence, schools must adopt a global perspective, and educators must deliver culturally responsive lessons. Most importantly, multicultural education must include multiple cultural perspectives in the topics it covers. Roughly 20 participants from various countries were in attendance in the lecture. The conference attendees included medical researchers, teachers and students.

Prior to starting at A.C.E in 2007, Ms. Thomas served as a US State Department Senior English Language Fellow in St. Petersburg, Russia, in which she conducting teacher training throughout northwest Russia. Ms. Thomas presented a lecture to English teachers in Kursk in 2006; therefore, her participation in this conference was not only professionally rewarding, but also personally meaningful.


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