In late October, Xperitas team members attended the annual Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures (MCTLC) Conference. MCTLC is an organizational member of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), Central States Conference (CSC) Advisory Council, and the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS). Each year at their conference, MCTLC bestows its Pro Lingua Award, “in recognition of outstanding service to and support of education in world languages and cultures." This year, we are honored to announce that Xperitas has received this prestigious distinction!
Recipients of the Pro Lingua Award must first be nominated by a member of MCTLC. MCTLC informed us that our nomination came from Valerie Neri, a Spanish language teacher at Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Valerie has participated in multiple Xperitas Community Partnership programs with Spanish language students from Park Center in Guatemala. When we were notified we would be receiving the reward, MCTLC forwarded Valerie's nomination materials to us, including the following testimonial:
As a Spanish teacher in the Twin Cities for over 28 years, the travel organizations Intercultural Student Experiences (ISE) and Global Citizens Network (GCN) were both very familiar to me: ISE for their language-focused travel and GCN for their support of indigenous communities through partnerships on community projects. When those two organizations joined to become Xperitas, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it was bringing together two incredible organizations with the focus of making the world a smaller place through language and culture travel experiences.
ISE began in Minneapolis in 1972 and has supported language teachers with immersion trips to countries around the world for over 40 years. The number of student and teacher lives that have been changed through their efforts is immeasurable. In addition, GCN is also a local organization which was founded in 1992 and has also touched countless lives. GCN's Community Partnership Program has had an incredible impact on the lives of many college students and professors and now, as Xperitas, can count many high school students and teachers in these ranks.
There are a plethora of travel companies, both local and national, and, personally, as an educator it can get very confusing and overwhelming when one is planning to travel with students. Being a teacher at a school with a high percentage of students participating in the Free and Reduced Lunch Programs, it was also very challenging to find enough students financially able to travel. I learned about the Xperitas Global Learners Scholarship program and applied for the summer of 2016. My application was accepted, and my students and I worked alongside indigenous community members in a small town in Guatemala through the Community Partnership Program. The privilege of witnessing the students' growth as world citizens was humbling. The experience was everything that I had hoped it would be and more! Xperitas was invaluable in their help and support as we learned to navigate an unfamiliar language and culture. We took great pride in learning some K'iche" Maya language and worked on our Spanish skills as well. We traveled with Xperitas to Guatemala again in 2017. I am looking forward to another travel experience with Xperitas in 2019.
I believe that these words from the Xperitas website are absolutely true: "Xperitas is a leader in cross-cultural programs that embody true language and cultural immersion, inspire personal connections with diverse individuals and communities worldwide and provide transformational experiences for our participants." I know that my students were transformed, and I believe that Xperitas is deserving of the Pro Lingua Award from MCTLC.
- Valerie Neri, Park Center High School, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
We are extremely grateful for our partnership with Val, and her heartfelt nomination, and we’d also like to publicly thank MCTLC for this wonderful honor. We look forward to working with Val and so many other amazing educators, students and partners in 2019, as we continue promoting our mission of transforming lives through shared global experience and intercultural learning.