Brianda Cediel - Executive Director
My name is Brianda Cediel. I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Hands Across the World. We are the first contact for Refugees and Immigrants who have come with their families to make Central Minnesota their new home. Our motto is: From Hands to Hearts to Minds toward Peace.
In 2016, my Co-Founder, Franciscan Sister Tonie Rausch, passed away, but we continue to build on the mission we started together. We had a long partnership and great laughs, and we continue to carry on her powerful legacy.
Here’s a little more information about myself. I was part of the Teachers of Color Program at Saint Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN. I graduated with an ESOL Degree in 2001.
I am currently continuing my education at Viterbo University to obtain a master’s Degree in Servant Leadership. I was born in the United States but grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, South America.
I received an Early Childhood Degree in Colombia and traveled to Mexico to continue my education in teaching a Second Language through the Arts. It enriched my work with children and teaching experience. This offered me the opportunity to live in both countries and to understand both cultures and lifestyles. My native languages are English and Spanish.
I came to St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1999. I am widowed with three children, who attended Apollo High School. I am extremely proud of my children.
My oldest son studied Business Management and Marketing at the University of Minnesota in Mpls. He's an entrepreneur and real estate investor. My middle son studied business at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and got his M.B.A. from Harvard, and he’s also an entrepreneur. Finally, my youngest son got his M.D. at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He’s a physician completing his radiology residency at Northwestern University in Chicago.
My sons are married to three professional and amazing women. I enjoy becoming a grandma. The success of my children is the same success that I wish for future generations in our country. I was a dedicated mother, active volunteer in their schools, and attended all their sport games; I am an enthusiastic collaborator in all their dreams.
I'm equally active in our community. I'm involved in different Boards of Directors, contributing and investing in my community to move forward.
In October 2003, my friend Tonie and I started a program called Hands Across the World.
I recognized that for many parents whose first language isn't English, it can be an extremely frustrating experience as they merely observe their children learn English but are unable to participate themselves.
We developed a program using English as a Second Language technique to provide a lifelong learning environment to educate parents and children in their first attempt at acquiring English language skills and basic living skills.
We serve families from different countries and ethnic backgrounds who have newly arrived in Central Minnesota. The program also emphasizes cultural diversity, new friendships, self-sufficiency, pathways to Citizenship and most importantly a true sense of being welcome and integrated to their new home.
When we first started, Bethlehem Lutheran Church opened their arms and facilities to embrace our program. In 2005 we were in the need of expanding our program and the Boys & Girls Club of St. Cloud rented us their Southside facility. We keep growing, so we moved to St. Mary's Center. These days, because of the success of our programs, we are serving at different facilities. A new home site is the Great River Public Library. We continued serving at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and Belclare Acres in Waite Park. Our program continues serving 400 adults and 182 children per year.
Hands Across the World is a non-profit organization funded by local, state, federal contributions and private donors. Please feel free to visit our classrooms and participate in our journey.
You will enjoy visiting with students from all over the world and learn from their wonderful cultures.
This picture was taking of Tonie and I, the day we went to a recycling plant to learn and then teach our students the correct way to recycle trash and save water. We continue these programs through our curriculum. On 2014 we were honored as Franciscans Earth Citizens.
The students really enjoy learning Math with me, Brianda. In this picture they are learning the ones, tens and hundreds. They are learning the use of the ruler to trace lines and for measurement.