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August Alum of the Month: Sarah Sanderson, International Exchange Advocate & Rotary Peace Fellow

Sarah Sanderson exemplifies the spirit of international exchange. She is an alumna of multiple CIEE programs and a Fulbright fellow; most recently, she is the recipient of a Rotary International Peace Fellowship for 2015-16, and a winner of the U.S. Citizen Diplomacy Challenge.

Sarah’s passion for travel and new cultures has led her to work and study around the world; her experience with CIEE began with a semester studying abroad in Santiago, Chile during college. During her semester abroad, she accomplished her goals of becoming fluent in Spanish and spending time exploring Chile. After college, Sarah earned a Master’s degree in Spanish Linguistics at Ohio State University, where she then worked as a Spanish instructor and as a Resident Director for the OSU study abroad program in Quito, Ecuador. 

After working at OSU, Sarah and her boyfriend (now husband) moved to China to teach English through CIEE. They ended up staying in China for two years before moving to New Zealand on a working holiday visa, where they worked in hotels, ski resorts, and language schools. After New Zealand, Sarah was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in Brazil – where she stayed for two years – as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) and as a mentor for other Fulbright scholars. 

Sarah Sanderson - ETA mentors

Sarah (front row, second from left) with Fulbright ETA mentors in Brazil. Other CIEE connections: Sarah Mellman (top row, third from left) spent a semester in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil through CIEE during her junior year at the College of William and Mary; during her second year in Brazil, Sarah (Sanderson) was one of the mentors for the next cohort of Fulbright ETAs, including CIEE Study Abroad Dominican Republic alum Armen Kassabian.

“If you are considering living, working, or studying abroad, stop thinking and start doing – it will change who you are and how you think in ways you can’t imagine.” 

Currently, Sarah is back in the United States – but only for the summer. She is working as a Portuguese language and culture instructor for Concordia Language Villages, an organization that teaches 15 different languages in immersion-style summer camps, with the mission of 'producing future responsible global citizens.'

In August, she’ll begin her tenure as a Rotary International Peace Fellow at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. During her two-year fellowship in Japan, she’ll be working towards a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution, and studying how international exchange and foreign language learning can prevent conflict and encourage peace-building. 

Sarah presenting

Sarah presents on a workshop about English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at a workshop in Sao Paulo. 

In the U.S. and abroad, Sarah is an advocate of international exchange. She has presented at Rotary Club meetings, hosted exchange students, attended global conferences, volunteered at Fulbright seminars, and met with foreign diplomats and leaders. This summer, Sarah was one of ten award winners for the U.S. Citizen Diplomacy Challenge, a State Department competition focused on sharing the positive impact of government-run exchange programs. 

A presentation Sarah created to promote access to international exchange.

Sarah encourages other exchange alumni to reflect on their experience, and to find ways to present about their experience when they return to their home country. “If you are considering living, working, or studying abroad, stop thinking and start doing,” she says. “It will change who you are and how you think in ways you can’t imagine.” 

Want to learn more about how CIEE alumni are making a difference around the world? Read more Alumni of the Month profiles. 

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