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5 posts from November 2016

CIEE Alumni Meet at Eataly Chicago

The CIEE Alumni Chicago Chapter held its first event under leadership of the new chapter president, Lauren Swanson. The happy hour event was an opportunity for CIEE alumni in Chicago and nearby suburbs to meet for an evening of networking, discussion, and food. Lauren reports:

"We gathered at Eataly Chicago's La Piazza on Friday, Nov. 11 for pizza, wine, and networking. Located in the heart of the second floor, La Piazza is modeled after a jovial Italian city square, where friends and families gather every day for shared plates and drinks. Alumni and guests came by after work to mingle and discuss their study abroad experience, other trips they've taken since going abroad, and more. There was such a diverse mix of what our alumni were up to, and it was great to see everyone getting to know each other. Everyone who attended were first-time chapter event attendees and we all became Facebook friends instantly. Everyone planned to attend another chapter event soon. Happy hour was a definite success!"


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Stories from Senegal – CIEE Study Abroad Alum Shares Peace Corps Experience

Did you know that the former vice president of the CIEE Alumni New York City Chapter has been in the Peace Corps for nine months now? After a successful time as a volunteer leader for the chapter, CIEE Study Abroad alum Anna Poruks traveled to Senegal to begin a two-year assignment as a Peace Corps Volunteer. With a bachelor’s degree in counseling and clinical psychology, Anna is now a Health Extension Volunteer in a small Senegalese village in the Louga region. Her work includes projects aimed at improving child and maternal health, increasing knowledge and access to proper water and sanitation techniques, and eradicating malaria. And, of course, cultural exchange.

We checked in with Anna for an update on her time in Senegal:

“My Peace Corps experience thus far has been an incredible roller coaster, but overall so worth it and one of the greater experiences of my life. In these past nine months I have been completely submerged in Senegalese culture, learned how to speak a traditional West African language, and adjusted to an entirely different pace of life. At the same time, I have been working to decrease malaria, improve maternal and child health, and educate about the importance of water sanitation and hygiene in my village. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is an amazing opportunity to help others at a grassroots level and learn about a different culture, while teaching others about American culture in the process. I am looking forward to what the future has in store!”

Follow Anna’s Peace Corps journey by visiting her blog.

Anna pictured with Malick, a coworker in the Linde health hut.

Alumni Update - November 2016



The First-Ever Frederick Douglass Global Fellows Have Been Named

CIEE partnered with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education's Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) to create the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, a nationwide initiative aimed at making study abroad more accessible to students from minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Named in honor of Frederick Douglass and his inspiring, meritorious character, the scholarship will offer $100,000 to students of color for study abroad. Frederick Douglass Global Fellows are determined and inspiring individuals from MSIs who possess high academic achievement, leadership skills, and communication skills, and have a history of service to others. Next summer, fellows will participate in a study abroad program in London, England to build on their intercultural and leadership skills. Learn more about the fellows.

Share Your International Exchange Story with the U.S. Department of State

U.S. citizens who have completed a Department of State exchange program, such as the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, The Boren Award for International Study, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, are invited to participate in the 2016 U.S. Exchange Alumni Citizen Diplomacy Challenge. Encourage more Americans to go abroad by sharing an inspirational photo, writing a personal narrative, or speaking at your school about what your exchange program meant to you. Getting involved is easy, and you might even win a prize! Take the challenge today.

Spend the Summer in Tokyo & More as a Global Navigator High School Program Leader

Do you have a passion for supporting high school students in their pursuit to study abroad? CIEE is hiring Program Leaders committed to the process of education, cross-cultural learning, and leadership development for the Global Navigator High School Summer programs in summer 2017. Apply to be based in one of 20+ countries where you will facilitate intercultural, experiential opportunities for high school students visiting the host country. Applicants with Japanese language skills are especially encouraged to apply. Apply online.

CIEE Announces Recipient of Second Annual Generation Study Abroad Access Grant

CIEE has selected Tennessee State University (TSU) as the recipient of a $20,000 grant to support an innovative faculty-led study abroad program titled “Intersecting Lives: Reading African-American Literature through a Black Feminist Lens” to be held in June 2017. The grant is part of CIEE’s Generation Study Abroad pledge to break down barriers and double the number of students who study abroad by 2020. TSU students who have never traveled abroad or do not have the resources to go abroad will get the opportunity to participate in the program, which is designed to change perspectives and foster an appreciation for global exchange. Learn more.




Happy Hour at Eataly Chicago with CIEE

Join fellow CIEE alumni for an evening of food and networking at the CIEE Alumni Chicago Chapter's upcoming happy hour meet-up. The event will be held at Eataly Chicago on November 11 at 5 p.m. Enjoy small plates and drinks while making new friends and reconnecting with others. Plus, meet the new chapter president and share ideas for upcoming events! Learn more and RSVP.

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





The Alum of the Month for November is Ariana Sánchez Barrios. Born in Venezuela, this alum was an English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) participant and Youth Ambassador. She is also a CIEE Work & Travel USA alum, Civic Leadership Summit fellow, volunteer coordinator, and dynamic public speaker. What has motivated Ariana to accomplish so much at such a young age? Read her story to find out.

Do you have your own story to share? Email us:


Excerpts from recently published alumni stories:

“…Ubuntu helped us mutually recognize that instead of feeling pity or jealousy among one another, we were just human teenagers who wanted to talk and have fun. It made us realize that as long as we were all willing to recognize, appreciate, and enjoy the common human essence all of us have, our well-being and happiness can flourish.” -Diego Mendoza (CIEE High School Study Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, 2016) Read his story.



From left: Grace, one of CIEE's Campus Coordinators, alongside CIEE Study Abroad alumni from Amherst College, sharing their experiences with prospective study abroad students; CIEE Study Abroad alum Hannah Smalley with CIEE gear at the 2016 IIE Generation Study Abroad Summit; and a flashback to visiting a floating shrine in Japan, photographed by a CIEE Gap Year Abroad alum during her program.

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International Exchange Experience Inspires Leadership in CIEE Work & Travel USA Alumna

Meet Ariana Sánchez Barrios, our Alum of the Month for November:

U.S. Department of State - edits
Ariana in the George C. Marshall Conference Center at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Born in Venezuela. English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) participant. Youth Ambassador. CIEE Work & Travel USA alumna. Civic Leadership Summit fellow. Volunteer coordinator. Dynamic public speaker. And she’s only nineteen years old. What has motivated Ariana to accomplish so much at such a young age? This alumna is on a mission to create positive change in her home country of Venezuela, using her leadership and exchange experience as the tools to help her achieve that goal.

Ariana’s journey with international exchange began when she was only thirteen years old as a scholarship recipient for the English Access Microscholarship Program (Access), which offers English language and cultural preparation for future exchanges and study in the United States. She then participated in the U.S. Department of State’s Youth Ambassadors Program, a four-week program that brought Ariana to the United States to engage in community service work, a home stay, educational workshops, and other opportunities aimed at increasing leadership skills and fostering community change in participants’ home countries. She says of the experience, “…that changed my perspective about life and made me realize how important it is to work for your community and also to keep on preparing yourself for the challenges you’ll face in life, always thinking of being your best and trying your best at all times so you can leave your mark in the world and in everybody’s hearts and minds.” The Youth Ambassadors Program was only the beginning of international exchange for Ariana. In 2016, she became a part of the CIEE family as a CIEE Work & Travel USA Access Scholar and Civic Leadership Summit fellow, spending her J-1 summer working at Six Flags in Queensbury, New York. For Ariana, the U.S. exchange experience was transformational:

“The Civic Leadership Summit was, with no doubt, the most meaningful experience during my program. It was such an important opportunity getting to connect with other leaders from all over the world with a similar idea of what the world should be like and how they are going to work in order to make it get at least closer to it. I got to share my ideas, my thoughts, my principles about life and the world with a lot of inspirational people that are definitely working to make their own countries a better place to live in.”

Employer Forum - edits
Ariana presenting at the CIEE Employer Forum in Washington, D.C.

While she was on her program in the U.S., Ariana spoke about her Work & Travel USA experience at the CIEE Employer Forum in Washington, D.C. She was also invited to participate in the 2016 convention of Association of Binational Centers of Latin America (ABLA) in Houston, Texas, to speak about her experience as a volunteer coordinator with Centro Venezolano Americano del Zulia or “Venezuelan American Center of Zulia” (CEVAZ), an organization focused on cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Venezuela and the United States. At the convention, she spoke of the challenges and responsibilities of being the coordinator of such a large volunteer group, while networking with organizational leaders and representatives from the U.S. embassies of five countries in Latin America, including her home country of Venezuela.

Volunteers Training Sesion - edits
Ariana speaking at a volunteer training session for CEVAZ.

Ariana’s international exchange and leadership experience has prepared her for creating positive change in Venezuela and around the world. Her ambitious attitude and love of learning has Ariana thinking big about the future, despite the challenges she may face:

“It is really hard to plan when we are going through uncertain times in my country. I’d like to run for presidency at some point, or at least have a position in which it gets easier to work helping people. I’m planning to have my own NGO aimed to develop my community in specific life aspects starting with volunteering because in this way, they will learn about different types of social work and at the end of it, they will be able to create their own projects and programs. I am truly committed to creating more and better citizens, no matter what position I have in life.”

We look forward to seeing what Ariana accomplishes next!

Do you have your own story to share? Email us.


Politics and Picnics in Washington, D.C. with CIEE Alumni

Last weekend, the CIEE Alumni Washington, D.C. Chapter organized a second annual picnic to bring together alumni in the area for good food and conversation. Chapter leaders report:

"Although the week was quite cold, this year's picnic fell on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. CIEE alumni and guests gathered by the Lincoln Memorial to enjoy great company, music, and conversations about the upcoming election. Most importantly, we got to catch up with each other since the last networking event in July. It was a wonderful day to be out enjoying the fall season while sharing delicious picnic treats. Most CIEE alumni in attendance were participants of study abroad programs, while one participant was from the CIEE Teach Abroad program in Spain. Alumni also talked about planning the upcoming holiday party in early December. Keep your eye on the Alumni Events page and our Facebook group for an announcement soon!"



Stay up-to-date on all CIEE alumni news and events in D.C., and around the world, by: 

  1. Updating your email address in the alumni directory
  2. Joining the CIEE Alumni Washington, D.C. Chapter Facebook group

 Questions? Email