In a world where virtual interactions have become the norm, there’s something undeniably special about gathering in person. That’s exactly what Cambridge Network’s recent In-Country Orientation (ICO) accomplished, bringing together Foreign Exchange Advisors (FEAs), Sales Representatives, members of the U.S. Operations team, and two inspiring student leaders. After a hiatus since 2019, this event marked a triumphant return to in-person engagement, rekindling the spirit of connection that lies at the heart of Cambridge Network.
The ICO was a comprehensive crash course in adjusting to life in the United States, tackling everything from culture shock to navigating the intricacies of U.S. insurance systems. In a diverse melting pot like the U.S., understanding the nuances of this new environment is crucial for incoming international students. The ICO left no stone unturned, offering invaluable insights that would ease the transition and empower students to embrace their new journey with confidence.
Sharing Wisdom from the Heart
One of the standout features of the ICO was the presence of two remarkable student leaders. These individuals brought a unique perspective to the event, having walked the path that the incoming students were about to embark upon. Their presentations resonated deeply, and their relatable stories provided a comforting bridge between the known and the unknown. Students leaned in, eager to absorb their wisdom and gain practical advice for their upcoming experiences.
Connection knows no boundaries, and nowhere was this clearer than during the ICO. A chance encounter with a student who had spent time in Chicago turned into an opportunity for us to share anecdotes and insights about life in the Windy City. This simple exchange highlighted the power of shared experiences, instantly creating a bond between a current and a future student, transcending geography and cultural barriers.
Navigating Tough Conversations with Grace
Life is not without its challenges, and that’s where the ICO stepped in once again. A presentation on handling difficult conversations sparked engaging discussions and brainstorming sessions. Cambridge staff, Matt and Stephen, led the students in devising strategies for approaching conflict with poise and respect. By developing plans before entering challenging dialogues, students left the ICO equipped with a toolbox of skills that would serve them well in both personal and academic pursuits.
The contributions of Matt and Stephen were nothing short of inspiring. Their recounting of experiences in Indiana and California created a tapestry of diverse perspectives. The new students found solace in hearing from their peers, realizing that the journey they were about to embark upon was shared by others who had already walked the path.
A Global Reach Beyond Boundaries
As the ICO came to a close, its impact was felt far beyond its physical location. Stephen’s journey continued, taking them to Korea where they had the opportunity to meet with students they had been working with virtually from Cape Cod. The distance melted away, and digital connections transformed into tangible friendships as they gathered face to face for the first time.
Reflection of the event:
Cambridge Network’s In-Country Orientation was more than just a gathering—it was a celebration of culture, connection, and growth. It redefined the importance of human interactions in an age of digital communication and proved that bonds forged in person are enduring and impactful. As new students step onto American soil, they do so with the knowledge that they are not alone on this journey—a network of support and understanding awaits them.
To encapsulate the essence of this remarkable event, Glaspie shared, “Presenting at the 2022 China ICO was an amazing opportunity. It was my first-time visiting Shanghai. I had the opportunity to learn so much about the culture many of our students come from while sharing a lot about my culture.”
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