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VLOGGING ACROSS AMERICA: NICK'S STORY

*This post originally appeared on the CIEE Exchange Programs blog

 By Nikita Bazhenov, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant and CIEE High School USA alumnus

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Hi, my name is Nikita Bazhenov. I am from Russia and I am on a work and travel program this year. In Russia I am a third year student in Higher School of Economics studying Sociology. I work as a cashier at Adventure Aquarium in Camden,NJ, just across the bridge from Philadelphia, PA. Another fun fact: I have a daily vlog. Yes, here on the program, I try to create a movie every single day, sometimes I fail and have to catch up but I still have not missed a day.

I’ve already been to the US, I lived here for a year and went to Santiam Christian High School in Oregon. That was five years ago, and this time I came to get an experience of adult life in the U.S. Being a kid in high school in the U.S. was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about the culture of the United States, and my host family shared a lot of knowledge with me, so this time I knew what to expect from this country.

I never thought I would visit US as an exchange student ever again, and that was a totally spontaneous decision made by me and my girlfriend Anastasia this winter. To give you some context, I love filming events, parties, pretty much anything in this world, but I never took time to do it. Mostly because I was busy working and studying at the university at the same time. Moreover, I was in desperate need of equipment (like a camera at least) because the one I was using was a 2013 Canon, bought by Anastasia, so it was not even mine. With my salary at that time I would have taken a couple of years to save up for a decent camera, so we decided to come here, to work, travel, and share our experience with other people who might want to join us on our journey.

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Another point was that my English level really went down at that time. Compared to my English level after attending high school in the U.S., I had forgotten a lot, and I had to fix that problem as fast as I could. I knew the CIEE office in St Petersburg from my previous FLEX experience, so I was able to go with CIEE.

As for the skills and knowledge I got during this program…there are 2 parts of this question. If we are talking about making movies – I learned way more this summer than I’ve learned in the last 3 years shooting. The other thing is, I value travelling more than anything, it’s a great way to learn about the world you live in. There is no way they would teach you how people behave themselves in the U.S. and why they are always friendly in university, you have to go the country by yourself and figure it out. ONLY then you will be able to understand life in another country.

If you have an opportunity to go to the U.S. and spend your summer working with amazing people somewhere in this great country – TAKE IT. It is worth more than anything else – experiencing another country and learning new every day. Don’t stress out about your language skills – I know some students that are here right now, who were not very confident speaking when they came here. In only two months their skill rocketed to the place when they can have a conversation with their coworkers and understand fluent English. And this is my second point – the purpose of learning a language is not to write tests or essays – it is being able to talk to other people and understand them. There is not as much attention given to speaking while learning a language in high school or in university and this program gives you a chance to fill this gap.

The entire experience really means a lot to me, as it gave me an opportunity to do something that I really love – make movies. My hope for the future is that after this program I will be able to fulfill my ultimate dream – be able to share my ideas, my country and my life with other people via making videos. This summer got me really close to the point when I am able to do that, and I can’t wait to see where I can go with it.

Watch Nick's video about his trip to Washington DC here:

 

August Alumni Update

 


NEWS THIS MONTH

Let TEFL Take You Places & Win a $500 Airbnb Gift Card

Have you been thinking about going abroad again but don't know where to begin? Start by getting TEFL certified with CIEE - the first step to teaching English abroad. You can even travel as you complete your certification by taking part in CIEE Destination TEFL's teaching practicum options in Italy, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam. What more could you ask for? We know - a $500 Airbnb gift card so that you can travel in comfort and style! Enter now for your chance to win a $500 Airbnb gift card and a free 150-hour TEFL Certification Course so you can go abroad again, soon!

Reflecting on a Summer at CIEE as an Alumni Intern

A great group of interns joined CIEE this summer to work on strategic projects in Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts through the Alumni Internship Program. They engaged in research, professional development, networking, and exploration of local culture while working on their strategic projects. Before they left, the interns reflected on their experience to share their main takeaways with you. Read all about it. 

 

The U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Lithuania Visits CIEE

CIEE’s Portland Global Entrepreneurship Program, in partnership with the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation, was in full swing this past month with students from Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania joining American students to learn about entrepreneurship in Portland, Maine. Participants are challenged with hands-on curriculum, a case study project with a local minor league baseball team, mentorship from local business owners, and a culminating “Shark Tank”-style business competition judged by a panel of Maine entrepreneurs.

This year the program also welcomed Ambassador Anne Hall, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Lithuania, to CIEE’s headquarters to hear the students present on their program experience. Ambassador Hall shared her international experience with the students and answered their questions about global entrepreneurship and diplomacy. The participants were inspired by her words, as well as by the many innovative Maine entrepreneurs and business leaders who gave their advice and time to our passionate students. Learn more about the program.

Open Your Home, and Heart, to an Exchange Student

The CIEE High School USA team is looking for U.S.-based families to host international exchange students. Families of all shapes and sizes are invited to host – the primary requirement is kindness and willingness to learn about a foreign culture. Can’t host but know someone who might want to? Refer them to us and receive a $100 referral bonus for each family who ends up hosting a CIEE student. Students are placed in all 50 states, so don’t feel limited by your local network! Learn more.


UPCOMING EVENTS 

A NIGHT AT THE CHICAGO RIVERWALK

WHEN: Thursday, August 17 from 4:30 - 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Chicago Riverwalk (Between Wells St & Franklin St)

Join fellow CIEE alumni in the Chicago area for a night of culture along the Chicago Riverwalk. Unifest Chicago is putting on their last event of the summer so come check it out, meet other globally-minded people, and enjoy music, food, and drinks from around the world! Learn more and RSVP.

Stay up-to-date with alumni events by:

Read about the most recent CIEE Alumni Local Chapter events on the blog.

 

 


 

ALUM OF THE MONTH 

The Alum of the Month for August is Thomas Austin Rose, who studied abroad with CIEE in Lisbon, Portugal in 2016. During an art history class, he befriended an Austrian creative with a bold idea to document the culinary wonders of their host city. The result? “Salt & Wonder” – a passionate print magazine exploring the culinary startup culture of Lisbon. They have proudly released their first issue and Thomas continues to serve as the editorial voice for the magazine while back in the United States. Thomas’ study abroad experience is an example of the unique, life-changing opportunities that studying abroad offers to intimately discover a new city, country, and culture. Read Salt & Wonder.



Do you have your own story to share? Email us: alumni@ciee.org


ALUMNI VOICES

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@CIEEALUMNI 


From left: CIEE Work & Travel USA alumnus receives the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship through IREX and will be studying Business Administration in the U.S. for the 2017-2018 academic year; the Alumni Summer Interns from Boston gather with Portland interns for a successful day of presenting their summer project findings; students enjoying pastries in France as our glimpse into the CIEE Global Navigator High School Summer Abroad program.

On social media? So are we! Follow us on Twitter or Instagram @CIEEalumni, and join over 20,000 alumni on our LinkedIn group

Don't forget to update your information to receive important communications and alumni news!

 

Interested in working with us at CIEE? Browse our open jobs.


ALUMNI NEWS  |  EVENTS  |  CHAPTERS  |  CONTACT US

300 Fore St. Portland, ME 04101  |  1.207.553.4000  |  ciee.org/alumni

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A Summer in Review: The CIEE Alumni Internship Program, 2017

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It was another exciting and engaging summer for CIEE's Alumni Interns in Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. Through the Alumni Internship Program, ten CIEE Study Abroad alumni representing a variety of backgrounds, academic interests, and universities collaborated with staff at two different offices, in the field, and around the world to tackle complex topics in international education. They also participated in weekly leadership seminars to hone their skills and build a picture of their professional lives after graduation. The result was a set of thoughtful presentations and recommendations for future endeavors that contribute to CIEE's work. Here's what they have to say about their experience at CIEE:

"I would say my biggest takeaway from this internship program is what I learned through my 30 Minutes to Mentor sessions. Our generation is turning to a work style where it is more important to try a bunch of different experiences through your professional career, so don’t be concerned about finding the job that can fit your needs for your life right out of college. Also, overall, I developed tremendously both personally and professionally this summer and I’m looking forward to a future career in international education and beyond." -Evan Seder

"My biggest takeaway was connecting with CIEE employees who spent time working abroad prior to beginning at this organization. Their stories and courage have inspired me to want to do the same. These conversations, along with our weekly professional development seminars, helped me better understand what I hope to do following graduation next May. I hope to continue working at organizations with an international focus." -Emily MacLaren

"I think my biggest takeaway was coming to understand that you really do get out of something what you put into it. In school, it’s easy to only put in as much work as it will take to get a good grade, which doesn’t always mean actually trying your hardest. In this internship, putting everything you’ve got into a project could be the difference between having our work used and referred to for years to come or having our project sit on the shelf. It was up to us to create a project we were proud of!" -Ellen Lechman

"Over everything else, this internship taught me to take initiative in the workplace. I was never waiting around for a mentor’s directions. Rather, I used my spare time to work on what I saw as important projects for my department. This initiative has definitely paid off, as I can see some of my suggestions being implemented in real time. It’s incredible, and definitely rare, to have that kind of trust as an intern." -Jamie Katz

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"The internship solidified my trust in myself and my abilities. CIEE views the interns as valued assets which gave me the confidence to dive into my project and professional development. I am excited to grow my professional confidence in the future." -Liz Stoppelmann

"I gained a lot of analytical skills with this internship with Excel spreadsheets and financial data, I am now able to apply those lessons to my creative work in graphic design, especially when trying to sell my work or setting prices for freelance projects." -Ciranno Soares

"During this summer I worked on my first personal project which was a bit intimidating. Because I had the liberty of doing my own research, it was sometimes hard to focus on collecting the right information. Luckily, my mentor was great because she helped me stay on track and helped me understand how to digest the information that I had collected. Before this internship, I was interested in analytics but wasn’t sure if it was right for me. However, this internship helped me realize that a job in the analytics field is a good choice for me." -Naeli Elizalde

 "This internship put me in a position to not only learn the skills to complete my projects but to also blossom professionally and personally. I became a mentor, a listener, a doer, a thinker, a chef, and ultimately learned so much about myself and the world due to the connections I've made. My CIEE notebook is jam packed with entrepreneurial endeavors that came to me right at my desk that will come alive in the near future. I am forever grateful for CIEE for allowing me to see things in myself that I didn't know were there!" -Arianna Alleyne

"One of the biggest takeaways from working at CIEE was being able to connect with other employees in various departments through the 30-mins-to-mentor segment of my Alumni Internship. I am so appreciative of my mentor who understood my desire to write and work in international education, and connected me with professionals in these fields. Talking to those with the same interests as myself was inspiring, helpful and by far one of the best experiences. I gained a lot of advice and a network I never had before." -Carmin Wong

Boston in Portland
Boston-based interns visit Portland office with mentor

Though they were hard at work on their projects, our interns also had time to explore Portland, Boston, and many other gems of New England! Here area a few highlights from the summer:

"Summer in Boston was a whole different culture that I'm not used to indulging in as a native New Yorker. I went to my first beach in America, I went canoeing in the Charles River, I played life-size Connect Four (and won), I accidentally joined a running team and the list goes on and on. Boston gave me a lot of 'firsts' this summer as it engulfed me in its own unique culture." -Arianna Alleyne

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"I had never hiked, or basically done anything outdoorsy until I came to Maine, and I loved it! One weekend, all five girls from the Portland office decided to do a glamping trip to Acadia. We were able to explore different parts of Acadia and I pushed myself both mentally and physically. However, the most rewarding moment was being able to see the sunrise after hiking at night." -Naeli Elizalde

"The highlight of my summer in Maine was definitely July 4th. We had a big BBQ in the field outside of our residence hall for all of the interns and CIEE Work and Travel USA program participants. For many, it was their first experience at a BBQ and it was a great way to show them the culture. From there, we went to the fireworks at the Eastern Promenade and watched them as a big group. It was exciting to see the level of happiness between all the different cultures on this fun summer day." -Evan Seder

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"The two highlights of this summer were the people I was able to meet and the places I was able to explore. Aside from meeting and becoming great friends with the other interns, I was able to meet CIEE Work and Travel USA participants from all over the world. Also, I had the opportunity to explore the New England area. My favorite weekend was spent Acadia National Park." -Emily MacLaren

"The level of professional development I received this summer was unexpected and still unbelievable. Since finishing my internship at CIEE, I have landed 3 interviews, and have been impressed by how comfortable I felt going into each. I gained technical skills I never had and I feel confident enough to work in any setting. Furthermore, working in the Boston office was a great setting. I especially enjoyed hearing all the comments and support from those in the Boston office—and elsewhere—after my final presentation. What sometimes felt like a surreal experience became a moment of pride and fulfillment after hearing positive feedback from those I worked alongside the whole summer." -Carmin Wong

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 "My favorite parts of the summer in Boston were exploring some of Boston’s museums and historical sites. This was also my first time on the East Coast (other than a quick family trip to D.C. when I was really young), so I also got to visit New York City for the very first time this summer! Lastly, I loved living and working with the other Boston interns, Carmin and Arianna. They are both such incredible women, and I learned so much from them!" -Ellen Lechman

"The highlight of my summer in Maine was our trip to Acadia National Park. We went ‘glamping’ near the park, half-successfully built our own fires, cooked our meals on a grill, and even woke up for a sunrise hike on Cadillac Mountain. Portland is an awesome city to live in for the summer, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to experience the 'outdoorsy' side of Maine." -Jamie Katz

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"Glamping for a weekend in Acadia National Park was a great way to see the beauty of Maine from scaling Beehive to hiking Cadillac to see the sunrise. Also struggling to start a campfire for the needed s’mores experience. Top summer memory, for sure!" -Liz Stoppelmann

"Exploring the city with my bike and tubing in the Presumpscot river were two of the most fun things I have done this summer. Exploring the many different restaurants in Portland was also awesome!" -Ciranno Soares

Alumni Update - July 2017

 


NEWS THIS MONTH

Announcing the Winners of CIEE's 70th Anniversary Alumni Storytelling Contest

In celebration of CIEE’s 70th Anniversary, we invited alumni of all of CIEE’s family of programs to share their stories with us, and the world, by entering the Alumni Storytelling Contest. It was an honor to hear so many inspiring stories that represent a wide variety of CIEE programs and experiences. Congratulations to our winners Charles Lee (Essay), Erin Ruff (Essay), Francesca Perticarini (Photo), and Atenea Rios Buezo (Video) who each receive a $500 prize. Because there were so many amazing entries, we've recognized a number of honorable mentions as well. Learn more about the contest winners and see the top entries on the blog. 

Celebrating CIEE's 70th Anniversary

In addition to the Alumni Storytelling Contest, CIEE celebrated its 70th Anniversary with an evening of conversation and fun at CIEE headquarters in Portland, Maine on June 8. Staff, members of the Board of Directors, and other special guests shared stories of our history and sentiments for the future. Read more about the event and enjoy this special video celebrating a rich history of international exchange:

CIEE - Celebrating 70 Years

Glimpse Into CIEE Global Navigator High School Summer Abroad

Did you know that there's a growing number of students studying abroad with CIEE during or after high school? Take a look at how current American students are seizing the summer on CIEE Global Navigator High School Summer Abroad programs around the world by following @cieealumni on Instagram and Twitter. Next week, we'll be featuring social posts from the program so you can learn about this exciting opportunity for high school-aged students. Follow us on social media today so you don't miss the feature!

Introducing the 2017 Alumni Summer Interns

Summertime means internship time at CIEE! The Alumni Summer Internship Program is in full swing right now in Portland, Maine at CIEE's global headquarters and at the Boston, Massachusetts office. Ten CIEE Study Abroad alumni are working in a variety of departments on challenging strategic projects while enjoying a summer in a new city. Learn more about the interns.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Stay up-to-date with alumni events by:

Read about the most recent CIEE Alumni Local Chapter events on the blog.

 

 


 

ALUM OF THE MONTH 

The Alum of the Month for July is Wilka Nascimento. Wilka participated in the CIEE Work & Travel USA and Internship USA programs, where she learned about the hospitality industry and gained international work experience. Read Wilka's story to learn how she turned an internship into a rewarding career in sales management for hotels. 



Do you have your own story to share? Email us: alumni@ciee.org


ALUMNI VOICES

Excerpts from recently published alumni stories: 

"My job was in a restaurant as a busser. I worked with many international students, and I met my friend Martin from Russia. Every time we finished work we would sit down by the lake and chat. Martin asked me once about my religion, Islam. He had a very negative perception of Muslims because of depictions in the media. I told him that Islam is all about love, peace and compassion, and that we are open to all religions and accept them as they are. My friend apologized to me and told me that he is more eager to know more about Islam and will never believe something without proof anymore. He said he will say proudly that he has a Muslim friend, and that’s something that really touched my heart. -Amir Ammar (CIEE Work & Travel USA, 2016)

"Studying abroad showed me how diverse the world is – in flora and fauna of course, but especially with people. It was building relationships with the people I met abroad, turning strangers to friends, which allowed me to gain perspective I otherwise wouldn't have." -Samantha Farquhar (CIEE Study Abroad, Kralendijk, Bonaire, 2014)

 


@CIEEALUMNI 

From left: CIEE Study Abroad alumni volunteer with the NGO Guestbook Project in Portugal; celebrating the Fourth of July (Independence Day in the United States) with a throwback photo of a CIEE Work & Travel USA participant experiencing the holiday while on program; a glimpse at the winning photo entry in the 70th Anniversary CIEE Alumni Storytelling Contest.

On social media? So are we! Follow us on Twitter or Instagram @CIEEalumni, and join over 20,000 alumni on our LinkedIn group

Don't forget to update your information to receive important communications and alumni news!

 

Interested in working with us at CIEE? Browse our open jobs.


ALUMNI NEWS  |  EVENTS  |  CHAPTERS  |  CONTACT US

300 Fore St. Portland, ME 04101  |  1.207.553.4000  |  ciee.org/alumni

If you wish to be removed from this group's mailing list, click here

When an Exchange Experience Turns Into a Career

The Alum of the Month for July is Wilka Nascimento. You might remember her from the Alumni Voices feature “How I Became a Global Citizen” on the CIEE Alumni Blog, in which she talked about her experience in the CIEE Work & Travel USA and Internship USA programs. Working in the hospitality industry in the U.S. while on these programs was an opportunity to learn about American culture, improve English skills, and gain international work experience. For this feature, we checked in with Wilka to learn more about how she turned an internship into a career.

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Wilka recently accepted a position as a senior sales manager at Hotel Wales in Manhattan, and formerly served as a director of sales for hotels, allowing her to work with a variety of major brands in the industry such as Hilton, Marriott, and IHG – crediting her CIEE program experience as a strong influence on her career path. Two months after earning her bachelor’s degree in business management focused on hotels and tourism, Wilka returned to the United States to pursue the CIEE Internship USA program:

“I was studying hospitality management in Brazil and I wanted to improve my English so I could communicate with international tourists in Brazil. During my first year of college, I had the opportunity to participate in the CIEE Work & Travel USA Program for four months. After the program, I still felt the need to improve my English, so I decided to come back after I graduated from college for a deeper understanding of the hotel industry in the United States.”

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Working at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Annapolis, Maryland, Wilka had the opportunity to rotate through different departments such as housekeeping, accounting, and sales. The majority of her time was spent as a front desk associate cultivating her skills in patience, leadership, and communication while gaining valuable English language experience. The internship was an open door into the hospitality industry the United States, presenting new opportunities to engage deeper in her line of work. In fact, it was her internship experience that gave her the connections to get a job working for Holiday Inn Express Baltimore Downtown. Since then, she has worked in sales and marketing for a number of major hotels in the U.S. “During my internship in Annapolis, I fell in love with the sales department, which inspired me to pursue this field in my career and become a sales manager because I love to network, prospect, and close business, but beyond all I love to serve my guests.” To this day, Wilka continues to provide positive hospitality experiences for all visitors who come her way.

“I’m a pioneer in my family’s world.”

Beyond building a career, coming to the United States also meant visiting new places, meeting new people, and exploring the world without any fear. Her fearlessness even had an impact on family back in Brazil, inspiring her sister to take part in international exchange too. In a personal LinkedIn article, Wilka writes, “Actually I can say that I have two homes, two different worlds that I love to live in. I go to Brazil every year, and I love that I'm always learning something new about the United States. It brings me joy that my younger sister wants to explore and travel as well. Everything that I have done and been through it's worth it. I did build my own legacy in my family and that brings me joy.”

Interested in having a career-building internship of your own? Learn more about CIEE Internship USA today!

Introducing the 2017 Alumni Summer Interns

Every summer, CIEE selects ten outstanding CIEE Study Abroad alumni to participate in a nine-week internship working on challenging strategic projects that reflect CIEE's mission. This year, we welcome interns not only to CIEE's global headquarters in Portland, Maine, but also at the new Boston, Massachusetts office. Learn more about this year's group of interns:

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Emily MacLaren:
Emily MacLaren is a rising senior from New Orleans. She is studying public health and international development at Tulane University. At Tulane, she is an intern in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, gives tours, and is a member of a sorority. In the fall of 2016, she studied abroad in Amsterdam on CIEE’s Social Sciences program.

Evan Seder:
Evan Seder is a native New Englander from Norwich, Connecticut and is entering his senior year of international studies and Spanish at Elon University in North Carolina. Having just returned from a semester at CIEE’s Study Center in Seville, Spain, he is excited to join the CIEE team in Portland. He also is excited to explore the great life Portland has to offer in the summertime, and learn more about CIEE’s day-to-day operations.

Ciranno Soares:
Ciranno Soares is an international student from Brazil and studies graphic design at the University of Minnesota. He loves to play and listen to music, to travel as much as possible, and to bike. Ciranno has worked for a variety of companies ranging from Disney World to Guns N' Roses, consequently living in a lot of different places. He recently came back from a study abroad term in Barcelona with CIEE and is looking forward to experiencing life in Portland this summer.

Arianna Alleyne:
Arianna Alleyne, currently studying computer programming and software engineering, is a rising senior attending Johnson & Wales University. Originally from New York City, Arianna is passionate about incorporating her big city dreams with bridging the gap between women and the technology world, while using those interests and skills to connect popular culture trends to technology. In her free time, she enjoys keeping up with these popular culture trends by reading articles, shopping, blog writing, and exploring the world. Having studied abroad in Berlin with CIEE, as well as in London, international experiences have been deeply intertwined in Alleyne’s educational career and she hopes to continue on this journey by landing a position in a global corporation.

Liz Stoppelmann:
Liz Stoppelmann is pursuing degrees in public relations and political science at the University of Oregon. Last spring, she studied in Seville, Spain through CIEE. Prior to her semester abroad, Liz led an on-campus club that creates entrepreneurial ventures where the profits fund international and domestic projects focusing on sustainable development.

Jamie Katz:
Jamie Katz is a management/marketing double major at Tulane University in New Orleans. She studied abroad with CIEE in Budapest, where she was set up as an intern for a Hungarian start-up struggling to penetrate the U.S. market. The ability to work abroad was the most meaningful part of her experience in Budapest, and she is excited to bring what she has learned to CIEE's global headquarters in Portland. Jamie loves to cook in her spare time, and she is a big football fan.

Carmin Wong:
Carmin Wong is a senior English major and playwriting minor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She studied in London, Paris, and Rome through the CIEE Global Scholar’s program in Fall 2016. Born in Georgetown, Guyana, she is an advocate for educational rights for minorities and women. She has spent her time on campus working with Girls Inc., a non-profit dedicated to mentoring and tutoring middle school girls while encouraging them to be strong, smart, and bold women. As a CIEE alumna, she wants to share her experiences abroad to help encourage diversity in global education.

Ellen Lechman:
Ellen Lechman is a senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale majoring in communication studies and minoring in management. Ellen recently completed a semester studying in Prague through CIEE. She fell in love with Prague’s beauty, history, and culture, and she is excited about the opportunity to help other students have their own magical study abroad experiences. At school, she is involved with the Student Programming Council, the University Honors Program, and works as a campus tour guide. In her free time, Ellen enjoys hiking, reading, and Netflix.

Lea Sandoval:
Lea Sandoval is a rising senior at Texas Christian University. Born in San Salvador, El Salvador, her family relocated to Long Island, New York and eventually made their way to Arlington, Texas where they now reside. She is currently majoring in middle school math education and minoring in social work. Determined to experience a different culture, she decided to spend 4 months in Seoul, South Korea during spring 2016. Lea is looking forward to working at CIEE's headquarters because, after studying abroad in Seoul, she garnered a newfound passion for international education and would like to obtain a master's degree in this unique field.

Naeli Elizalde:
Naeli Elizalde is a Mexican-American first generation college student. She is from Dallas, TX and is studying business administration at Babson College. During the spring semester of her junior year, she studied abroad in Seville, Spain where she discovered her love for traveling. She also has a passion for dancing and food, admires nature, and loves to spend time at the beach.

CIEE Celebrates 70 Years

On May 8, 2017, CIEE marked 70 years of living out its mission and providing educational and cultural exchange opportunities to people around the world. CIEE was founded on May 8, 1947 under the name Council on Student Travel with a defining purpose: to provide exchange opportunities that would create conversation and unity between people of all nations. What began seven decades ago as a commitment to international exchange has now become an enduring legacy – one built upon strong partnerships with forward-thinking organizations, institutions, and individuals. 

We're proud to say that in the past 70 years:

  • More than 600,000 Americans have experienced another culture through CIEE study, teach, and internship programs in more than 50 countries outside the U.S.
  • More than 950,000 people from 135 countries have experienced the U.S. – many for the first time – through our inbound study, work, internship, and trainee programs.
  • And more than 48,000 U.S. families and employers have shepherded students and been enriched through the hosting of CIEE-sponsored international exchange participants.

In celebration of these accomplishments and in the spirit of continued dedication to international exchange, staff, members of the Board of Directors, family, friends, and other special guests gathered at CIEE's global headquarters in Portland Maine on June 8, 2017 for an evening of reflection, conversation, and fun. There was even a cake shaped like the ships CIEE's first participants traveled on!

Thank you to all of the alumni who have been a part of CIEE's history. We hope you continue to engage in cultural exchanges and stay passionate about international education.

Please enjoy these video and photo highlights from the event:

CIEE - Celebrating 70 Years

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Announcing the Winners of CIEE's 70th Anniversary Alumni Storytelling Contest

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From May 8 to June 8, CIEE alumni from all over the world submitted hundreds of photos, videos, and essays to the Alumni Storytelling Contest. It was an honor to hear so many inspiring stories that represent a wide variety of CIEE experiences - stories of independence, discovery, human connection, identity, transformation, personal struggles, and empathy that show just how impactful an exchange experience can be. Our team of CIEE staff judges carefully reviewed the entries and chose our top winners. Each winner will receive a $500 Visa gift card for future travels and exploration. Congratulations to the following winners:

Essay
Charles Lee (CIEE Study Abroad, Brussels, Belgium, 2013)
Erin Ruff (CIEE Study Abroad, Legon, Ghana, 2009)

Photo
Francesca Perticarini (CIEE High School Exchange USA, 2014-2015)

Video
Atenea Rios Buezo (CIEE Work & Travel USA, Montana, 2015)

We would also like to recognize some additional outstanding entries with an honorable mention. View the entries here.

Brooke Burrows, Essay (Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, Germany, 2009-2010)
Katia Stie, Essay (CIEE Study Abroad, Dublin, Ireland, 2015)
Akintunde Ahmad, Essay (CIEE Study Abroad, Legon, Ghana, 2016)
Michelle Dondero, Photo (CIEE Study Abroad, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2013)
Wei Kai Lim, Photo (CIEE Work & Travel USA, New York, 2014)
Mitra Ghaffari, Photo (CIEE Study Abroad, Brazil/Cuba, 2014/2016)
Mahamed Barzanji, Video (CIEE Study Abroad, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 2016)
Nadja Junghardt, Video (Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, USA, 2015-2016)
Jack Brennan, Video (CIEE High School Abroad, Seville, Spain, 2016-2017)

Congratulations to all our winners and thank you to all the CIEE alumni who participated. If you missed this contest, don't worry! There will be more opportunities to share your story in the future. To get started now and learn more about how to get your CIEE story on the CIEE Alumni blog, email alumni@ciee.org.

The Journey & The Coming Home

"I could follow a lecture, read a book, write a paper, all of that in French, but I hadn’t been me before in French."

By Charles Lee (CIEE Study Abroad, Brussels, Belgium, 2013)
*This essay was a winner in CIEE's 70th Anniversary Alumni Storytelling Contest.

One night in the library, early in my junior year, everyone at my table was working on applications to consulting firms. Recruitment for summer internships was coming up. Deloitte, PWC, Accenture, all these firms and the wild questions they’d ask in the interview. I still wasn’t sure what a consultant was, but apparently it is what you do after college. I opened the website for one of them and closed it immediately. I knew it wasn’t for me, but I still didn’t know how you do find out what is for you.

A few weeks after that night in the library, I got an email from my university saying that I had passed the French test and was approved for a semester in Belgium. It was exciting, adventure and all that, but it was mostly a relief. Not sure of what I should do, it was comforting to have something to do. You can always do something until you get to the “should” part of that verb phrase.

Settling into Belgium came with ups and downs, but it was easier than I expected. Some very typical challenges faced me that, had I been older and wiser I would have seen how typical they were, but each minor hurdle turned into either a minor accomplishment or a valuable failure. I made friends. I went to class. I slowly built a new life for myself.

I came to Belgium already speaking pretty advanced French, a language I had studied and spoken since I was 13 or so. French, though, had never carried a deep emotional weight for me. It was a subject I was good at in school. It was my minor at university. It was this separate, abstract thing that existed outside of me. I could follow a lecture, read a book, write a paper, all of that in French, but I hadn’t been me before in French.

In Belgium, the language took on a new form. I cried in French; I talked about being afraid and uncertain in French. I made jokes in French. I plumbed the depths of friendship in French. I admitted to embarrassing crushes in French. I got angry in French. I navigated a new and complex social world in French. People I knew in French became important to me. And French became important to me. It seems cliché, but at that moment in my life, when a logical path seemed to already lie before me, it was really astounding to see this extension of myself – an extension that needed this otherness for it to exist. It was as if this parallel world was suddenly opened up to me. It took this new feeling of otherness to upend the assumptions I’d made about the future.

As I relearned how to exist in my parallel self, I was able to see things from a bigger perspective. There is nothing that I just had to do. There isn’t such a thing as should. People just do and they do all kinds of things.

I was so taken with the feeling I felt when French became an important part of my life, a central element of my existence, that I wanted to do it again. I had always been interested in German, but had set it aside since starting college. I signed up for a German course, got a German language partner, hung out with the German exchange students and went to readings and events in German. Now that French had become an almost automatic language for me, tumbling from my mouth with unthinking ease, it felt right to start anew.

When my CIEE exchange was coming to an end, I went to dinner with one of the student mentors. I told her that I was going to Vienna that summer to take summer courses at the university. She was half German and had been instrumental in feeding my interest. As a joke, or maybe not, I said I wish I could just stay. I said aloud that I had thought about coming back for grad school, but that was a lie. I had only just thought it as I said it. Saying it made it real. She said, “You know you could, right? You could do that.” I don’t think I did know that.

After my summer in Vienna, I got on a plane to DC. It was hard getting on that plane. I had experienced the whole emotional arc of the study abroad experience, feeling almost bitter that I was such a cliché. Unease in the new, total ease in the new, unease in the old, acceptance of both. But just because something is typical does not make it unreal. 

I came back to DC, though, with a clearer sense of what I could do. I came back understanding that what I should do and could do were up to me to be discovered. I came back with a goal.

Every Saturday morning I went to an exam prep course, and on Thursdays I had a German course and made French my major. I got a side job to pay for these prep classes and in January I sat the first exam. I passed. In April I submitted my application and waited. In March I was invited to Paris for the interview.

Last fall, I graduated with honors from the Sorbonne with a master’s in German studies and translation. As I write this, the other document open on my computer is my second thesis, this one in comparative literature and next year I’ll apply to doctoral programs here in France. In another year, I’ll be allowed to submit an application for French citizenship.  

In the journey I found a new way of being, but one that had always been parallel to myself. In coming home, I found that home is a choice you make yourself.

Winning Video from the CIEE's 70th Anniversary Alumni Storytelling Contest

By Atenea Rios Buezo (CIEE Work & Travel USA, Montana, 2015)
*This video was a winner in CIEE's 70th Anniversary Alumni Storytelling Contest.