BRANSON, MO– On Monday, August 1, 2016, over 230 J-1 participants, community members, and elected officials and staff gathered at Moonshine Beach to celebrate J-Day and the power of international exchange programs.
Under the motto “Eat Play Give,” J-Day merges community service and celebration. J-Day Branson involved a morning session of Culture in the Community at the Ozark Mountain Family YMCA. J-1 participants volunteered their time to serve as J-Day Ambassadors, providing cultural presentations to children ages 5-12.
Later at the Moonshine Beach celebration, J-Day Ambassadors were presented with Certificates of Achievement by Mayor Karen Best.
Along with a keynote speech by Mayor Best, J-Day attendees enjoyed American style cuisine, beach games, volleyball, swimming, and dancing.
The event received bipartisan support, as the offices of Senator Claire McCaskill and Senator Roy Blunt attended J-Day festivities. Both elected officials took to social media after the event to show their support of J-Day and the value of international exchange programs.
The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is governed by the U.S. State Department. The program gives future leaders from around the globe the opportunity to come to the United States to exchange ideas and cultures with the people of the U.S. through temporary training and educational opportunities. This summer, approximately 500 J-1 visitors are spending their university summer breaks in Branson, MO; approximately 200 J-1 participants attended J-Day Branson.
Other attendees included community members, area business owners and operators, and Cultural Exchange Network (CENET).
CENET is a non-profit organization located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with an additional office servicing the Springfield/Branson area. CENET is a U.S. State Department authorized J-1 visa sponsor. CENET also operates The Magellan Exchange, a consortium of universities worldwide providing student and faculty exchanges. In addition, CENET facilitates Culture in the Community, an initiative aimed at providing authentic international education for local youth.
CENET strives to inspire a safer, more prosperous and compassionate world through international education and cultural exploration.