International Couselor Exchange Program  


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About ICEP

ICEP | Sponsoring Organization | Staff

The International Counselor Exchange Program makes possible the placement of several hundred students and young people from all regions of the world, ages 18-30, to serve as counselors in American summer camps. The program's goal is to create opportunities that will facilitate a healthy interaction between international counselors, American children and American camp staff, with the ultimate aim of nurturing friendships and better understanding between peoples from different cultures. The ICEP is an official J-1 visa exchange program under the auspices of the US State Department.

All ICEP Counselors are at least 18 years old and are carefully selected based on their camp-related skills, experience leading children, ability to communicate in English, and enthusiasm for participating in an international exchange. Each applicant submits the ICEP application, an autobiographical essay, a 2 page photo collage, 3 letters of reference, and copies of all awards, in addition to completing both a personal interview in the home country and a phone interview with the ICEP New York staff.

We have 21 representatives in 15 countries who help us to publicize the ICEP opportunity, organize information sessions for interested students, prepare counselors for their arrival in the US, and maintain contacts with ICEP alumni. Each of these representatives has participated in camp or is a professional educator.

We work with children's summer camps throughout the United States who incorporate international counselors into their camp program in order to enhance the diversity and educational experiences of both its staff and campers. We strive to carefully match each camp and international counselor based on each camp's needs and the counselor's skills. If you are a Camp Director and would like to learn more about ICEP's 52 years of experience in this field, click here.

ICEP | Sponsoring Organization | Staff

The Association for World Travel Exchange, Inc. (AWTE) was founded by Robert L. Tesdell and officially incorporated as a nonprofit corporation under New York State Law on April 1, 1953. Three different educational programs were initiated by the AWTE with the purpose of promoting international understanding between the peoples of the United States and peoples from across the world. In addition to the ICEP, the AWTE also administers the International Student Center, a youth hostel located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City.

The third initiative were the Hospitality Tours, which also began in 1953 here in NYC. American families would host a student or counselor in their homes for a week or two, and some cases just over weekends. In recent years, the interest for Host Families has dropped. One of the goals for AWTE is to rebuild this program. Church organizations, religious congregations, and summer camps are potential possibilities to strengthen the network of host families for international counselors and students. These hospitality tours play a crucial role in nurturing mutually enriching experiences between international youth and American families, besides exposing young people from overseas to American peoples, cultures, politics, landscape and history.

ICEP | Sponsoring Organization | Staff

Suresh Paul, Executive Director
Suresh began working with the late Robert Tesdell, founder executive director, as the Associate Director of the ICEP and the International Student Center in 1994. He joined the AWTE, Inc., to help nurture the philosophy and ideals of ICEP and the International Student Center, besides being determined to bringing peace and justice perspectives to the organization. Educated in India, Suresh has a Masters degree in Political Science and a Post Graduate Degree (M. Phil) in Development Studies, with specializations in international relations. Having worked as a journalist in India for over seven years, and with work experiences in non-formal education programs, the ecumenical movement, peace movements and human rights organizations in different parts of the world, Suresh feels committed to experiential educational initiatives like the ICEP that nurture friendships and international understanding between different peoples and cultures.

As the Executive Director since Autumn 2001, Suresh has been committed to creating and promoting new peace education programs, while further strengthening the existing programs. Acknowledging the 50th anniversary celebrations of the organization (1953-2003) and seeking a new vision into the future, Suresh has created a new program called PEACE ~ Peace Education through the Arts, Culture and Exposure. In keeping with its objectives, the PEACE initiative will run programs that set up partnerships between artists and their audiences, with the accent on multiculturalism, cultural cross-currents and social renewal. A new Arts for PEACE Gallery has also been opened at the organization’s international office building in Manhattan, New York. The Arts for Peace events will showcase the visual and the performing arts through exhibitions and performances. They will include artist-audience interfaces and workshops in which elementary and high school students are exposed to both the themes and techniques of visiting artists and performers; and documentary and feature film screenings, followed by discussions.

Away from work, Suresh enjoys photography, music, gardening, cooking, soccer, cricket, chess, non-fiction literature and poetry.


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