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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 watch their children learn English but are unable to participate themselves.

We developed a program using English as a Second Language techniques 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 community facilities: The Great River Public Library, Bethlehem Lutheran Church  Peace Hall Cafeteria, and Belclare Acres in Waite Park. Currently, all our programming is online.


Our online tutorial program is accessible to ALL. Our program continues serving 400 adults and 182 children per year.


Hands Across the World is a non-profit organization funded by local, state and 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.



Brianda Cediel -  CEO & Co-Founder

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; 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 me. I was part of the Teachers of Color Program at Saint Cloud State University. I graduated with an ESOL Degree in 2001 and ​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 understand both cultures and lifestyles. My native languages are English and Spanish.

I came to St. Cloud in 1999. I am widowed with three children, who all 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 Minneapolis. 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 MBA 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 being 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, contributing and investing in my community to move forward.

This picture was taken of Tonie and me the day we went to a recycling plant to learn and 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 Franciscan Earth Citizens. 

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