ACES Students Introduce Their Culture to Doug Visitors

Rasheed from Ghana

The Truth Staff

Rasheed Akparibo has lived all of his life, until this academic year that is, in a rural village in northern Ghana and, until this academic year, Rasheed, now a junior at Scott High Scott, had not seen a movie theatre, a shopping mall or a library.

Rasheed arrived in America through the good graces of the American Cultural Exchange Services, a non-profit organization that serves as a contractor for the U.S. State Department and through which the State Department provides the funding for students from around the world, such as Rasheed, to spend a year in the U.S.

“It’s a huge diplomatic initiative,” says Tracee Ellis, the local ACES coordinator. “The State Department enables us to reach these places, like Rasheed’s village in Ghana. Both Democrats and Republicans support and allocate funds to the State Department and I’m so excited about what we are going to do.

Through the ACES programs, students from developed countries such as those in western Europe can spend a year in the United States as well as those in less developed areas of the world – those in Asia, Africa, the Middles East and eastern Europe, for example.

The impact on Rasheed’s life is hard to fully fathom at this point. As a young boy, an accident had caused him to lose vision in one eye. The process to bring him to this country had taken a year – recommendations, applications, final approval. But these few months have certainly been momentous – academically and athletically. In spite of his visual handicap, Rasheed played on the Scott soccer team and was selected to The Blade’s All City, First Team, Offense Soccer Team this past December.

Kathyia from South Africa

American Cultural Exchange Service was founded in 1995 in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the support of a group of professionals including lawyers, accountants, university professors, business and community leaders who believe in the value of international exchange in the pursuit of world peace. ACES is a non-governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to international cultural and educational exchange.

One of the most significant aspects of the program, says Ellis, is the impact on American students who become ambassadors to the world, with an opportunity to make a true difference in increasing global competency.

There are 14 students in the local program this year and most were at the Frederick Douglas Community Association this past Saturday with displays of their nation’s key points of interest – the food, the costumes, the landscape and architecture and parks,

Along with Rasheed from Africa, among others, were Kathyia from South Africa and Khoudia from Senegal. From Asia, Hamdan was there from the Philippines, Erika from Indonesia and Annisa from Thailand. And Europe was represented by, among others, Virginia from Italy and Nicole from Germany.

As the year winds down for the kids they have two trips to look forward to before they head home. Ellis will be taking them to Chicago and then to Niagara Falls to view a spectacular scene and to contemplate the various ways in which energy can be used for the benefit of humankind.

All will be heading home but virtually all of the kids wish to return to the United States, perhaps for college.