After nearly a month away from their native Dominican Republic, Hector Cuevas, Kelbio Madera and Stephany Solano completed the final week of their credit union internships in North Carolina November 3. The trio visited the Tar Heel State as part of World Council of Credit Unions’ International Credit Union Leadership Program (ICULP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges.
Coastal FCU, State Employees' CU, Latino Community CU and United Services CU served as host credit unions for the Dominican visitors. World Council worked in coordination with North Carolina Credit Union League to pair each participant with a credit union for the duration of the internship. The goal of the visit is to provide new ideas and strategies for the interns to improve their credit unions and promote growth in the Dominican credit union system.
In addition to the benefits Cuevas, Madera and Solano gain, the internships greatly benefit the host credit unions. “These exchanges build bridges of understanding and friendship throughout the worldwide credit union movement,” said John Radebaugh, NCCUL President/CEO. “They also show staff at North Carolina credit unions that they are part of something larger. It was a pleasure to see our credit unions embrace this program and provide a transformational learning experience to their Dominican guests and the staff members who worked alongside them.”
In addition to the internships offered by the host credit unions, the visitors lived with a host family during the first week of their stay. The host families in Raleigh and Asheville treated their guests to some of the local sights and events, and of course a few home cooked meals along the way.
Solano and Cuevas spent the week at the home of Joe Mecca (Coastal FCU), and took a trip to the NC State Fair in Raleigh. Esteve Coll-Larrosa (United Services CU) hosted Madera and, thanks to an early cold snap, got to experience snow for the very first time.
The interns departed NC November 2 and headed for the Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, D.C. They joined more than 200 professional fellows from 51 countries to discuss topics such as entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment and worldwide legislative issues. The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges sponsored the Congress, which included participants from World Council and the 16 other Professional Fellows Program grantees.
“This program directly aligns with World Council’s vision to build a global community,” said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO. “It provides an opportunity to directly connect our member associations AIRAC in the Dominican Republic and Credit Union National Association in the U.S. to exchange ideas, experiences and best practices in an effort to positively influence credit unions in both countries.”
World Council is currently accepting applications through Nov. 16, 2012, from U.S. credit union employees interested in participating in the next ICULP opportunity in the Dominican Republic. World Council will select 11 U.S. participants to travel to the Dominican Republic for a two-week internship with one of 15 World Council-affiliated credit unions, Jan. 13-16, 2013. More information on ICULP and an application are available at www.woccu.org/leadershipprogram.