Midwest Sponsors 2019 Health Safety Welfare Summit

April 12, 2019

Earlier this week, Spirit Cultural Exchange collaborated with J-1 visa sponsors Greenheart International and CENET to host the 3rd annual Midwest Health Safety Welfare Summit. You can read more about this eventful day below!

With the busy summer season rapidly approaching, the Midwest Health Safety Welfare Summit functions to heighten awareness about participant safety, provide relevant training, and inspire new initiatives to further improve J-1 participant health, safety, and welfare.

The day began with breakfast and an opportunity for employees from all three Midwest sponsors to mingle before the presentations. This year’s presenters included U.S. Department of State Representative Lynette Evans-Tiernan, author and licensed therapist Shannon Plate, and Spirit Director Michelle Chapman-Rienstra.

Lynette Evans-Tiernan discussed the “pillars of public diplomacy” as they pertain to the J-1 visa program. She explained why the Department of State felt that the program was valuable and how we can use our unique positions as J-1 sponsors as a way to advocate for cultural exchange programs.

In Shannon Plate’s presentation, “Counseling 101,” she focused on good communication skills when dealing with someone who is suffering from emotional trauma or a mental health problem. Part of the discussion included practicing good communication using hypothetical situations.

Following Plate was Spirit’s Michelle Chapman-Rienstra, who discussed the ways that sponsors were addressing sexual harassment. She presented many useful materials like slideshow presentations and flyers that host employers could use in training sessions that address sexual harassment and help spread awareness to all participants on the program.

After lunch, attendees were broken into teams and discussed best practices and opportunities for collaboration. Topics discussed included:

  • Housing
  • Anti-trafficking
  • Mental health
  • Cultural activities
  • Alumni engagement

Overall, the Midwest Safety Summit was a productive day of sharing perspectives, brainstorming new ideas and networking with others in the industry.

Special thanks to the teams at Greenheart International and CENET for helping to coordinate such a successful event, and to the American Red Cross in Chicago for the use of their excellent facilities!