On February 6th - February 11th, SACIV welcomed eight international visitors from Chad, DRC, Djibouti, Haiti, Madagascar, Mauritania, Morocco and Sierra Leone for an IVLP project entitled “Empowering Youth Through Workforce Development." This program was planned to provide participants with the opportunity to examine the role vocational education plays in providing Americans with training and skills tailored to fit targeted employment needs; to demonstrate specific workforce niches filled by community colleges, vocational & technology schools, and certificate program and how these institutions have evolved to meet economic needs; and to study ways teachers and businesses get youth interested in future looking careers.
On Friday morning, our visitors met with representatives of Cafe College, which is funded by the City of San Antonio and managed by the San Antonio Education Partnership. Our guests learned about the services it provides as San Antonio’s “one-stop-shop” for college access advice, guidance, and workshops. One aspect of the conversation that they found most interesting was on their truancy intervention program, which serves as a complement to in-house court programs such as constructive community service. The IVLP group also had a tour of their facilities and discussed the ways this organization promotes preparedness for higher education to students of all ages, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Later that day, our guests participated in a meeting with representatives of City Year. This meeting showcased their work to build democracy through citizen service, civic leadership, and social entrepreneurship, believing that through service that they can demonstrate the power and idealism of young people, engage citizens to benefit the common good, and develop young leaders of the next generation. The delegation enjoyed learning about the City Year’s role as an innovative public-private partnership which brings together teams of young AmeriCorps members who commit to a year of full-time service in schools. Staff also addressed how AmeriCorps members provide individual support to students who need extra care and attention, focusing on attendance, behavior, and course performance through in-class tutoring, mentoring, and after school programs.
In the afternoon, our delegation met with representatives of UP Partnership. During this lively discussion, participants were exposed to the creative ways this organization ensures that every child dramatically improves their educational successes in school, college, and careers within Bexar County. This meeting with several young students from UpPartnership provided the group with an opportunity to see how opportunities for social empowerment and justice have been used by minority populations and underserved communities. They also discussed educational outcomes improvement, especially for underserved and Latino communities.
In the evening, the IVLP guests had the unique opportunity to attend the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, a quintessential Texas tradition. Over the weekend, they took part in several cultural activities such as a tour to the Missions and dinner hospitality with local hosts.
On Monday morning, the delegation headed to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to meet with the representatives of the Center for Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (CITE). Visitors had many questions about this interdisciplinary center in the Colleges of Business and Engineering, which was established to create a pipeline for UTSA faculty, students, and the surrounding business community to develop new technology ventures. Through a process including education, experience, resources, and support, representatives of CITE shared how they foster the growth of new technology-based ventures. The IVLP group also learned how this Center serves as a catalyst for the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem, with a focus on their work with young entrepreneurs.
In the afternoon, the delegation met with staff and students of Business Careers High School (BCHS), where they learned about the term a “school within a school”, as this magnet school is located on the campus of Holmes High School and attracts students interested in studying business and other related fields. The staff of the school shared about their curriculum, which is intended to expose students to business professions with classes including business etiquette, finance, and technology. Our guests also discussed with students and faculty of the high school the issues such as youth engagement in entrepreneurial activities, as well as leadership and business skills.
Later that day, the delegation visited Trinity University’s Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, where they met with Dr. Luis Martinez. During this meeting our guests learned about the Center’s interdisciplinary minor in entrepreneurship, designed to cultivate, coordinate, and integrate Trinity’s diverse resources for the development and application of creative entrepreneurial behavior and achievement. A roundtable discussion with current students addressed their perspective and insights on their learning, as well as related extracurricular activities.
Overall, the group found the visit to San Antonio very supportive of their objectives and appreciated the opportunity to meet with partners who are aiming to propel job creation for youth at the local level and increase job-training programs. The visit made a significant impact on the visitors and their exchange experience. We greatly appreciate each partner, organization, and representative of San Antonio’s community for their collaboration and partnership in furthering our mission. #ExchangeMatters