DEI Committee 2023 Update
DEI Committee 2023 Update

DEI Committee 2023 Update

January 10, 2024

5 -min read

In 2023, InterExchange continued its commitment to  welcoming individuals from diverse global backgrounds for enriching experiences across the U.S. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) also remained steadfast and central to how we approach our work and program development. We fostered engaging discussions and educational events, both within and beyond our organization, to champion understanding and diversity. DEI remains an essential element of our mission, guiding us as we actively embrace diversity and inclusion.

Excitingly, InterExchange received the 2023 Global Youth Travel Award for Best Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in Lisbon, Portugal. The Best DEI Initiative Award highlights our organization’s efforts to take tangible steps toward creating a more inclusive workplace and, ultimately, the youth travel and tourism landscape. 

We’ve always believed that the world becomes a better place when we understand, embrace, and celebrate our differences. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion isn’t just about checking a box; it reflects our core beliefs as a sponsor of cultural exchange programs. Winning this award reaffirms our dedication to creating opportunities for everyone, irrespective of their background, to experience the transformative power of cultural exchange.

Key Highlights from 2023

At InterExchange, our commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace has been an ongoing journey. Embracing the core principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we have channeled our efforts into what we term the “four A’s”: heightening awareness, conducting assessments, taking action, and fostering accountability.

Raising Awareness & Ensuring Accountability

In 2020 & 2021, our DEI Committee concentrated on elevating our own awareness and education. Transitioning into 2022, our focus shifted towards sharing resources with our participants, enhancing their understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This initiative aimed to enrich participants’ intercultural awareness, nurturing respect and appreciation for diverse cultural experiences.

Throughout 2023, we continued providing valuable resources for participants, hosts, and international cooperators via our Explore Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resource page. This hub houses a wealth of articles, books, podcasts, videos, and more, curated by our DEI Committee to deepen our community’s understanding of various facets of diversity and inclusion.

Our Cultural Engagement Program for Participants thrived, featuring our Culture Talk series. This interactive platform allowed InterExchange participants to explore American culture and engage in discussions on diverse topics. Notably in celebration of InterExchange Education Week (November 13-17, 2023), we hosted an enlightening discussion on working with special needs campers at Lions Camp Badger. The conversation, anchored by Kali Wright (Program Coordinator, Camp USA), emphasized the significance of inclusion and accessibility for all.

We also have continued to collaborate with experts and professionals in the DEI community. Machada Smith-McGovern (Staff Engagement & DEI Manager, Chair, DEI Committee) represented InterExchange at the Global Inclusion Conference with Diversity Abroad in Chicago (Oct 31-Nov 3). Through this network, Machada now serves as Chair of the Diversity Abroad International Educators Community of Practice, uniting global education and DEI leaders to shape influential initiatives and resources. 

Our team completed a comprehensive Emotional First Aid training with P3 Mental Health led by Jamie Robinson, LMFT. The session equipped us with communication skills, crisis management techniques, and a better understanding of mental health warning signs across different levels of severity. This workshop aimed to bolster our ability to provide empathetic support to participants facing mental health challenges and included self-care tools for our staff. In close collaboration with our Leadership Team, we created an extensive Crisis Management Plan for staff that is tailored to offering the best possible support to participants and hosts during crisis situations.

Throughout the year, our DEI Committee hosted groundbreaking Courageous Conversations, Open Forums, workshops, and events. These sessions provided staff with a platform to engage in open and honest discussions on challenging topics related to DEI and current events.

Our Sessions Included: 

  • Jordan Neely & Bystander Intervention 
  • The Silent A: Asexual Awareness & Inclusion 
  • The 1619 Project
  • Racial Justice at Work with the Winters Group 
  • Disability Pride Month: Lions Camp Badger 
  • Hispanic Pride Month: Leguizamo Does America 
  • Silent Meditation for Peace in Gaza & Israel

Assessment & Action

Building upon our efforts in 2022, we launched our Inclusive Hiring Initiative in 2023. This comprehensive approach encompasses a Diversity in Hiring agreement for managers, behavioral interview questions, and retrospectives after each hire to refine our processes. Our commitment to an inclusive workplace welcomed eight new staff members from diverse backgrounds in 2022 & 2023. 

We also improved our Staff Recognition program by creating new channels to celebrate tenure and staff achievements. We worked collaboratively with our Marketing and Operations teams to design social media and improve internal announcements to celebrate milestone anniversaries and welcome new staff. 

Looking Ahead to 2024

Looking forward, our goals for 2024 include:

  • Continuing to promote allyship through Staff Engagement & DEI Education
  • Advancing our Inclusive Hiring Initiative to enhance diversity at InterExchange
  • Establishing a Staff Mentorship Program
  • Forming a DEI Community Engagement Team to offer staff volunteer opportunities focused on DEI in NYC



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Machada Smith-McGovern is the Staff Engagement & DEI Manager at InterExchange. She attended the University of Kansas & Peking University, and holds a B.A. in Chinese Language & Literature and International Studies. She is the chair of InterExchange’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and manages the development of professional development training, education, and events for our staff.



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