Asian American Cultural Exchange Association (AACEA)
Bernard J. Salera,
Asian American Cultural Exchange Association
When and how did your business get started?
Bishan Huang is the founder and Director of AACEA, which was incorporated in April 2009. Her hometown is Shenzhen, the Special Economic Development Zone, a kind of Chinese equivalent to the Big Apple. In a bustling megalopolis which, like New York, "will break your heart, baby," she overcame the cultural stigma of being a divorced single mom and became a successful entrepreneur in the new economy after the 1980s and eventually CFO of a recently privatized import-export company. She came to America with all the aspirations and ambitions that most immigrants bring with them, focused on providing a quality education and a future full of opportunities for her son. She determined to share her experiences with so many of China's rising middle class who share her passion for achievement, and soon became the object of great demand from parents wishing to trust their child's education and life halfway around the globe to a dedicated guide and sponsor.
Why did you choose the town you did to open your business?
Before Bishan and I incorporated AACEA in Bensalem, I had actually chosen to live here 20 years earlier. A South Philadelphia native, after almost all my family had moved to the suburbs I decided to relocate to Bensalem. I had had the opportunity to work here on a couple special projects that introduced me to a cross section of the local residents, and I found the same qualities of neighborhood friendship and down-to-earth hospitality that I was used to in South Philly. Who could turn down all that, plus being able to park my car in front of my house whenever I wanted, day or night, to boot? Now we are proud that our company can introduce so many eager Chinese parents and children to the best that America has to offer through such a diverse and vibrant portal.
What is your business known for?
AACEA recruits Chinese students to enroll in American schools as international students. Our students don't stay for only a quarter or a semester and return home with a taste of American culture, but rather they and their families have made a commitment to pursue a quality American education right up through college. As long as they remain students in good standing, their visas permit them to stay in the U.S. We partner with host families who join our program and provide the welcoming authentic family experience that helps introduce our students to the American character and the American dream. Our school partners know that they can rely on us to shepherd our students through their curricula and onto the road to academic success.
What's something interesting about your business your customers might not know?
Our program conforms to federal guidelines and regulations, but draws no money from taxpayer funds. In fact, our students and their parents become consumers, contributing significantly to the local economy.
By government regulation, host families are volunteers who do not rely on their international students as a source of income. However, programs like AACEA are allowed to release monthly taxable disbursements of stipends for room and board.
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