by Jennifer Bernhardt, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU)
It isn’t every day that a positive, “life-changing” opportunity comes along. This past year, select groups of credit union professionals from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and the United States have had such once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Since April, 28 young credit union employees from these countries have traveled abroad, interned at foreign credit unions and lived with host families in an effort to learn new growth strategies and how to better serve their own members.
This year, World Council of Credit Unions began the International Credit Union Leadership Program through a grant from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges, as part of the larger U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Program. The program has proven to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who have already taken part in the international exchange.
It can be exhilarating to visit another country or to learn new credit union innovations that could work at your institution, but it is an entirely unique experience to live with a host family, practice another language and actually work in a foreign credit union for several weeks. U.S. participants to Guatemalan credit unions earlier this year returned rejuvenated and motivated to inspire positive change with the new perspectives they had gained.
How, you ask, might one have such an opportunity? World Council is now seeking 11 U.S. credit union professionals to intern in the Dominican Republic, Jan. 13-26, 2013.
Your participation begins with a visit to www.woccu.org/leadershipprogram, filling out and submitting an application by Nov. 16 and getting your credit union to sponsor your airfare. U.S. participants are selected through an application and interview process that evaluates leadership skills, adaptability to new surroundings and the potential to initiate change in their credit unions. All other expenses, including a modest stipend, are covered by the program.
Visit the International Credit Union Leadership Program Facebook event page to hear from program participants from the Dominican Republic, currently visiting Wisconsin and North Carolina. You can learn more and download an application at www.woccu.org/leadershipprogram. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 16, 2012 for the January 2013 program.