The Center for Intercultural Education is a 501(c)(3) corporation, committed to providing opportunities for young people to explore other cultures and peoples through direct contact and hands-on volunteer experiences. The Center has worked with young people in Australia, Japan, Argentina, China and the United States, providing a structure through which they can explore their own ideas and their leadership. Most programs, once begun, are run by the students themselves and provide opportunities to learn the skills of volunteer management, project planning, project creation, grant writing, and budgeting. It is our belief that young people, given the chance, are the ones who can step forward with the dynamic energy, creativity, and heart necessary to solve many of the world's current problems. The Center is available to provide workshops and talks about the formation of student-lead service programs in countries throughout the world. Contact us if you are interested in this service.

Initially, the Center was formed in 1994 as the Center for Service Learning Opportunities in Education, dedicated to providing service learning opportunities in New Mexico schools. From 1994-2004, the Center trained 1600 teachers in service learning methodologies and supported 18,000 New Mexico students from 20 school districts in projects ranging from the environment, to housing, to elderly, peer tutoring, food banks, peace projects and many more. During this time, partnerships were sustained with 400 other non-profit organizations across the state and a large number of Indian pueblos and tribes. In 2004, the Center gave all of it's service learning programs to The Forum for Youth and Community in Albuquerque, and re-named itself the Center for Intercultural Education, with an international program.

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The Center for Intercultural Education currently collaborates in the United States with Heart to Hands, another non-profit dedicated to programs for young people and a number of US universities. More about Heart to Hands can be found on their website at www.heartohands.org

The Center also collaborates with 8 universities in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China including Yunnan University, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Yunnan Normal University, Yunnan Agriculture University, Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, Yunnan Forestry University, Yunnan Nationalities University, Dianchi College.

In addition, collaborations have been created with 5 minority villages in rural Yunnan Province, one elementary school in Kunming and 2 poorer neighborhoods of elderly people.

Program Director

Susan Straight has run service learning programs for 12 years throughout New Mexico, involving thousands of students from kindergarten through university in their communities. Internationally, she has run workshops in Thailand, Japan, Australia, and Argentina. Over the past 5 years she has worked to set up a program in Yunnan Province, China that supports Chinese university students to volunteer in rural minority villages and cities there. She is currently the Director of the Center for Intercultural Education and has traveled extensively throughout the world.

Hearts to Hands Director

Karey Thorne is a counselor and educator who conducts workshops in the United States, Europe and Asia. She has taught peace studies classes at the high school and college level for 10 years, and conducts international service internships with students. As head of PeaceJam New Mexico she organized 6 international peace conferences, in which Nobel Peace Laureates meet with youth. She has been in private practice as a counselor for 19 years and has traveled the world extensively. She is currently Executive director of Heart to Hands.