A.C.E. - Associates in Cultural Exchange

Kazakh Entrepreneurial Leadership Program Visits Seattle and A.C.E.

E2's 2014 Summer Entrepreneurial Leadership Program participants pose outside the A.C.E. Central Office

E2’s 2014 Summer Entrepreneurial Leadership Program participants pose outside the A.C.E. Central office

On July 21st, A.C.E. welcomed our 3rd annual group of E2 Summer Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (SELP) students at the A.C.E. Central Office. These eight future Kazakh leaders spent several hours with President & CEO David Woodward, and Director of Marketing Lori Maxfield to gain insight into the finer details of operating a non-profit in the field of international education, as well as a clearer understanding of what it means to “Make the World Your Community,” A.C.E.’s mission. Through thoughtful discourse and stimulating questions, SELP students demonstrated a proactive passion for learning and high level of English communication skill as they made the most of their time analyzing A.C.E. The SELP students were in Seattle for several weeks and also attended A.C.E. English courses.

Students who are selected for E2’s Summer Entrepreneurial Leadership Program spend 70 hours interacting with US business leaders in Kazakhstan before traveling to the United States to interview CEO’s and managers of 20 companies in Seattle and Chicago. These companies range from the multinational powerhouses like Amazon and Boeing, to locally owned businesses like Trophies2go.com. This year’s SELP participants were mostly business students focused on learning from the core beliefs and values of successful American companies, with intent to apply this knowledge in their local market of Kazakhstan.

A.C.E. hosts the business English portion of E2’s SELP, which encourages students to work out idioms that had been heard, yet misunderstood, during their previous company meetings. SELP students left the A.C.E. Language Institute at SPU with a confidence boost in their new-found understanding of business English slang, remarking that the A.C.E. business curriculum “taught us a lot not only about business English, but also about culture and people here.”

Through A.C.E. English language courses, SELP future leaders were also educated on American culture. Upon learning that the students were preparing to attend a Chicago Cubs game, an A.C.E. instructor saw a great opportunity to teach an important part of American culture by educating SELP students on the rules of baseball. In response to the flexibility of A.C.E. instructors, E2 communications and operations director Joshua Goetsch remarked, “This kind of customization and real time adjustments is what sets our students experience at A.C.E. apart. This active relationship is what makes the instruction truly exceptional.”

SELP future leaders received certificates of completion at the A.C.E. coursework graduation ceremony

SELP future leaders received certificates of completion at the A.C.E. coursework graduation ceremony

In 1995, A.C.E. Senior Advisor Tom Goetsch recognized the complexities that Kazakhstan faced during its shift from a Soviet Socialist Republic to a global market economy. E2 Educational Services was conceived in 1996 to meet the distinctive needs of this nation in transition by providing context-intensive education to develop young leaders able to renew their country.

Since the inception of E2 Educational Services, Tom and his son Josh have successfully brought 220 select Kazakh students into the United States for business and leadership training. Additional to E2 and his collaboration with the Kazakh Ministry of Education, Tom Goetsch has brought his regional expertise of Central Asia to the table as an A.C.E. Senior Advisor for the past five years. For more information on the history and current events of E2 Education Services, please visit www.e2es.org. For more information on A.C.E. Group Programs, please visit us at www.cultural.org/groups.

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:


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