t’s been a wonderful year for all of us at Alliance Abroad thanks to our incredible network of employees, partners, participants and host employers.   Although we faced some tough headwinds from proposed changes to J-1 visa programs, we banned together as a cultural exchange community. United in our support of exchange programs, we’ve shared amazing stories, demonstrating the positive impact exchange programs have on both international participants and on American businesses and communities.

This year almost 10,000 exchange students from 86 countries have been interning, working and training in over 900 U.S. businesses in 49 states and the District of Columbia.  International teachers are enriching and educating American students in 35 school districts around the country.  We’ve welcomed fabulous new businesses and established important new partnerships. We’ve received an industry award for being the “Best Work Experience Provider,” and while we are humbled by the recognition, we share the award with so many others. We are the facilitators of great work experiences, but the magic happens every time people get together to learn, share, teach and help.  Over 300 Ubuntu Fellows have traveled to the U.S. this year to receive important hospitality training. The work training they receive will provide them with the needed experience to gain employment when they return to South Africa.

We are grateful to our host employers and employees for welcoming and assisting young people from far parts of the world.  You’ve made a difference by demonstrating the true American spirit of inclusiveness and diversity.  We thank our international partners and participants for bringing fresh perspectives, enthusiasm and talent to make American businesses and communities stronger.

In the coming year, we hope to match thousands of other exchange participants with U.S. businesses and classrooms, so they can create extraordinary experiences together. Initiatives and programs like Ubuntu that bring social good around the globe will continue to be our passion and focus as we usher in another year.

During this season of celebration, we hope you take time to celebrate the tremendous difference you are making in the world.  No matter what holiday traditions or beliefs you honor, the true spirit of this magical holiday season is what we give of ourselves in service to one another.

Wishing everyone peace, prosperity and extraordinary experiences in the coming New Year.