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4 posts from February 2017

Alumni Update - February 2017



CIEE Statement on Executive Order on Immigrants and Refugees

Since 1947, CIEE has brought together people from different backgrounds to humanize international relations, increase global harmony, and nurture peace around the world. International exchange is an enduring American institution, and CIEE is committed to protecting and advancing its long and strong legacy. Read the full statement. 

CIEE Work & Travel USA Participants Show Us Their American Winter

It's winter program season for CIEE Work & Travel USA, and time for the My American Winter photo and video contest. Participants from all over the world are using social media to share how they're experiencing winter in America. See some of the inspiring submissions on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page (click "View Gallery") or by following the hashtag #cieeworktravelers.

CIEE's TEFL Certification Course Helps Alumni with Career Transitions

CIEE’s Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification courses are offered at a variety of levels online with in-person coursework options to give participants the skills needed to teach abroad. The courses help prepare students for a new life and a new job abroad - teaching English! Tanur Badgley describes how his TEFL course was “my bridge from Topeka to Thailand” and helped him transition from a career in digital media to teaching with success: 

“This course has given me the confidence to step into my classroom in Thailand. The practicum gave me first-hand experience with teaching so I could better understand what was to come. [...] Now I'm in Thailand teaching English to 6th grade students and I use the skills I learned from my course every day. I have an awareness of how to build my lessons in a way that brings the learners along with me to eventually create projects using the English skills I taught them. I know many games and have access to many resources to keep English learning exciting. I'm able to blend together my new learnings from the teachers here in Thailand with my understanding of TEFL theory I learned in the course.”

Visit the CIEE TEFL website for more information.

Japanese and Chinese Language Teachers Wanted

Do you have a passion for supporting high school students in their pursuit to study abroad? Use your language and teaching skills abroad next summer with CIEE! We are hiring Global Navigator High School 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 and Chinese language skills are especially encouraged to apply. Apply online.



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





The Alum of the Month for February is Virginijus Sinkevicius, CIEE alumnus and former Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF) intern. Virginijus participated in the BAFF program from 2013-2014, working in Washington, D.C. at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Two years later, he's elected to Lithuanian Parliament. Read his story to learn more.

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


"Living in a homestay was the perfect option for me, since it was a chance to speak in Japanese to native speakers. Even when I wasn’t speaking, I was listening. My listening comprehension, arguably more than my speaking, improved tenfold just because I was surrounded by people who only spoke that language." from Studying Abroad in Tokyo: Moving Forward by Ria Jagasia (CIEE Study Abroad, Tokyo, Japan, 2016)

"Going to the USA is a memory I will always cherish. I met people from all over the world. People that now, after two years of being apart, I am still friends with."  - Andreea Cucos (CIEE Work & Travel USA, 2015)



From left: CIEE Work & Travel USA joins Snapchat; Alumna Amy Sininger tells us about her CIEE Teach Abroad and TEFL experience in a video interview for the CIEE Alumni blog; and the CIEE Study Center in St. Petersburg prepares for another semester of new students.

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Studying Abroad in Tokyo: Moving Forward

This article is part of a series by blog contributor Ria Jagasia, who studied abroad with CIEE in Tokyo, Japan in 2016.

My Facebook memories have let several cringe-worthy posts of mine resurface, but on December 9 this year I saw a very special post that has been my favorite memory thus far – the day I got my official acceptance to the CIEE Study Abroad program in Tokyo. Seeing that it had already been a year made me realize how much has changed since then, especially my language abilities.

Of course, being in Japan means that I had the opportunity to improve my language skills, and I did just that. Before going abroad, I had around a year and a half of Japanese classes, but I felt nervous going to Tokyo without the confidence I needed in my language ability. Living in a homestay was the perfect option for me, since it was a chance to speak in Japanese to native speakers. Even when I wasn’t speaking, I was listening. My listening comprehension, arguably more than my speaking, improved tenfold just because I was surrounded by people who only spoke that language. Coming back to my campus in the U.S., I definitely saw an improvement in my ability to read, write, and speak even in the more advanced material we covered. In addition to improving in those areas, I genuinely began to enjoy using and hearing the language. When I first started taking classes, I wasn’t sure if Japanese was right for me and really only continued it for the sake of my Asian studies major. It was definitely a challenge to pick up a completely new way of writing and speaking, and I wondered if it was really worth the effort. Being in Japan, speaking the language, and experiencing it in the context of daily life in Japan made me realize what a beautiful language it is and how lucky I was to be able to learn it.

Now that I am very far from Japan and in a community where Japanese culture isn’t as prevalent, it is hard to create and share my experiences. I think this has made me less inclined to constantly talk about where I went or what I saw during my time abroad, since it would be hard for people to relate to and, honestly, not everyone wants to hear about it. This is where friends come in – those that went with you, saw the same things as you, and lived the same life as you. I couldn’t have asked for better friends than the ones I made during the program and they have definitely been a part of my moving forward. Being able to relate not only in our common interest in Japan, but in the experiences we had there, makes me grateful that I can still keep in touch with them.

Additionally, cooking has always been a passion of mine and it was wonderful to be able to make some dishes from my Japanese homestay back in my own home. I was able to find ingredients in my local international market and enjoy the familiar tastes again. Sharing the food with my family was also a great way to have them experience my life in Japan. Initially it was hard to talk about my experiences with my family since they were not there with me and couldn’t truly understand. The Japanese food I made became a bridge of sorts as it allowed me to bring up some of the memories I have of eating those foods in Tokyo.

Being in Japan allowed me to explore an entirely new way of living and speaking that I would have never experienced otherwise. For those who are thinking of studying abroad, I would encourage you to take the leap – you will most definitely reap the rewards!

Event Recap: Bay Area Holiday Happy Hour & Toy Drive

CIEE alumni in the San Francisco Bay Area met at the Barbarossa Lounge in the Financial District of San Francisco for a holiday happy hour. In the spirit of holiday giving, the alumni group also turned the event into a toy drive, partnering with the San Francisco Fire Fighter Toy Program. They are looking forward to getting together again in the new year. Join the CIEE Alumni San Francisco Bay Area Chapter on Facebook to stay informed about upcoming events!

Photo - bright

Event Recap: Washington, D.C. Holiday Potluck

On December 4, CIEE alumni and their guests joined together for a holiday potluck party hosted by CIEE Study Abroad alumna Amber Demery. The potluck featured festive drinks, holiday desserts, and an array of finger foods. Alumni spent time getting to know each other over pool, foosball, and other games while also planning upcoming CIEE chapter events.

"Keeping in touch is hard in D.C. so having this alumni group where we can all get together, have fun, and network is great! This holiday party was the perfect way to do that and celebrate the new year. All the games provided by the venue and the general atmosphere just made it feel like catching up with old friends." -Amber




Don't miss the next event! Join the CIEE Alumni Washington, D.C. Chapter on Facebook to stay updated.