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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.

 

 

Coming Home: The Journey Begins

"Through my semester in Ghana I found my life’s work at home."

By Erin Ruff (CIEE Study Abroad, Legon, Ghana, 2009)
*This essay was a winner in CIEE's 70th Anniversary Alumni Storytelling Contest.

Just after daybreak in early August I stood in Heathrow’s Terminal Three and stared into the crowd of travelers ready to board the flight to Accra. Bored with the monotony of college life, and a few credits short of a degree in art, I headed across the Atlantic. My intentions were self-serving: to explore, experience, and enjoy another part of the world.

Though only in Ghana for five months, I intended to see every nook and cranny the country had to offer. I did a pretty good job of it. I visited all ten regions in Ghana as well as the neighboring countries of Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, and Benin.

The first month of my stay had come to a close when my study abroad group was called together for a program. I had little patience for these gatherings.  However, this time things were different.

It was at this program that I met Beatrice, a master weaver from the nearby village of Kisseman. Beatrice was a timid lady. She stood before our group and, in her broken English, invited us to her village for weaving lessons. In exchange for weaving lessons she asked if students would help the children in her village with their schoolwork. I was instantly drawn to her. Though she was there to recruit students for a weaving lesson, it was clear where her heart lie. The true purpose of her presence was to solicit help for the children she spoke of. I decided to give it a shot.

Sitting in Beatrice’s compound, I felt little pairs of eyes peering around the corners, curious as to why there was a strange woman at their “Mama Teni’s” house. Children staggered in asking for pieces of torn books to read or pages to scribble pretend school work on. They picked up scraps of elephant grass and mimicked Beatrice’s quick weaving hand to keep themselves busy while they waited for a taste of the meal she prepared each night.

I had never seen anything like it. She was the village mother, accepting anyone that came her way. Some were regulars, others came and went as they were called home to their work.

I began to spend all of my free time in Kisseman. I put the weaving aside and began to teach. Soon, my daily routine consisted of unloading boxes of donated school supplies and preparing our makeshift classroom. The cement flooring became our chairs and desks, the compound tree our roof. The scorching sun served as our clock, letting us know when lessons began and when it was time to go home. Armed with a pencil and paper, the children had their first real classroom experience.

After the first day of lessons, a few children walked me to the local tro-tro (mini-bus) stop. Jennifer, a lively six-year-old, took off running towards a man coming down the hill. Full of excitement she pronounced, “Father, today I have learned!” In that moment, I realized that the work I was doing would carry on far beyond my stay in Ghana. The pride in Jennifer’s voice that day fueled my passion for teaching the kids of Kisseman.

That semester the children wrote their first letter, read their first sentence, and began to shape their lives through education. As word spread throughout the village, the compound filled day after day with more and more children eager to learn. What began with five children turned into lessons for more than 50 students.

Everything I had sought to discover was right there, in the little village of Kisseman, and in the hearts of kids I met. Through my travels in Ghana I found myself. In those five months, I discovered my passion and untapped my potential. But my biggest journey began when I returned home.

December 2009, I arrived back to the United States in a fury, desperate to find a way to hold onto my time in Ghana. I wanted to continue to help ensure the children of Kisseman received the education needed to lead them to a brighter future.

Within a year of my return, Beatrice and I launched Baskets for Education. It began with Beatrice sending small shipments of her handmade Bolga baskets to me to sell. The money raised was used to pay for children’s school fees. The first child on a full scholarship was Sammy, in 2010.

Today, Baskets For Education buys baskets directly from our partner cooperative who pays the highest wages in Bolga. The proceeds from the basket sales support our non-profit organization. The Kisseman Children’s Foundation, established in 2012, provides scholarships for students to attend local schools, as well supplies and daily lessons. To date, the organization has provided 22 students with full scholarships.

It was that program, which I so unwillingly attended, that took me on the adventure of a lifetime. Through my semester in Ghana I found my life’s work at home.

Lessons continue to take place in Kisseman. CIEE Legon provides volunteers each semester through our partnership. The volunteers come from colleges across the U.S. and teach the lessons I once led, this time in our rented classrooms under the guidance of our Program Director, Beatrice’s son Dominic.

Back home in small town America, Ghana has become a familiar name to many in Hagerstown. Local schools aid in filling our cargo shipments with donated supplies, as school children write letters to their friends in Ghana. A mother who attended our recent Egg Hunt fundraising event stated that her six-year-old has a newfound interest in Ghana. The place that I had never heard of before my trip abroad has become a landmark for those around me.

Embracing our roots in Bolga basket weaving, and our heart in education, our journey carries on at The Kisseman Children’s Foundation where I continue to impact children through a means they may have never thought possible: education.

Learn more about Baskets for Education and the Kisseman Children's Foundation.

Winning Photo Entry from CIEE's 70th Anniversary Alumni Storytelling Contest

By Francesca Perticarini (CIEE High School Exchange USA, 2014-2015)
*This photo entry was a winner in CIEE's 70th Anniversary Alumni Storytelling Contest.

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1. I'm Ghana

It’s not a quick picture you get of someone when you visit a tourist attraction. “I’m Ghana” is the name of the short film I shot at the top of the Hancock Tower with my host sister, Fatahiya (in the picture), from Ghana. She is one of the best people I’ve met in my life, and thanks to the CIEE program I had the opportunity to listen to her story and learn something from it. The short film had a huge success (it was also shared by upworthy.com), and even now, it still inspires thousands of people from all over the world.

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2. Pacific Ocean

My “American grandparents” took this picture of me when I first saw the Pacific Ocean. Touching all of the oceans in the world is on my bucket list, and I was finally able to check off “Pacific Ocean” from the list. For the first time I was able to be so close to the ocean. I live right in front of the sea back in Italy, and I’m not used to seeing something so immense and blue.

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3. Reflections

This is probably my favorite picture of all time. My coordinator from CIEE, who quickly became my host mom and my dearest friend, took this picture. She and I got along pretty well and we shared some of our favorite things: waking up early before the sun rises, having espresso in the morning and seeing beauty in nature. We left the house pretty early because everything was covered in fog. We both love nature so we drove around the area and took some pictures. Out of all the pictures we took, this one is the one that I cherish the most because it reminds me of how lucky I was to have her as my mentor.

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4 & 5. Old Wild West

These pictures are from the camping trip my host family organized. We spent 10 days camping in the middle of nature and for the first time, I set foot in Wyoming and North Dakota.

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6. Leaving Home to Go Back Home

I took a picture of a plane that was flying above my head as a reminder of all the planes I took during my exchange year. Traveling has been my favorite hobby now, and I keep taking planes to visit new places because of the amazing experience I had with CIEE. I will never stop traveling because it would mean to me that I don’t want to learn anymore. The concept of home changes when you are an exchange student. The United States has become my home, although I know I was used to associating the word “home” with my country.

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7. Cold Chicago

Chicago has been my very first American home. For the first time, I had the “honor” to live in freezing temperatures and experiencing what it means to live in the snow. I love the skyline and I love it even more when it’s covered in white.

CIEE Work & Travel USA Alum Receives Prestigious IREX Scholarship

*This post originally appeared on the CIEE Exchange Programs blog

Amir Ammar is a 2016 CIEE Work & Travel USA alum, Civic Leadership Summit Fellow and Access Scholar from Tunisia. Amir is the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship through IREX, and will be studying Business Administration in the United States for the 2017-2018 Academic Year.

My name is Amir, and I was blessed by the opportunity to work in the United States during the summer of 2016, in a resort on Lake Powell in Arizona. I was the first Tunisian to be selected for the CIEE Work & Travel USA program as an Access Scholar, a CIEE scholarship that allowed me to come on the program.

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Amir at the Grand Canyon

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.

He will say proudly that he has a Muslim friend, and that’s something that really touched my heart

But that’s not all, I was also selected to be a part of the 2016 CIEE Civic Leadership Summit, a week in Washington D.C. that changed my life forever. It give me the motivation to plan to be a very active global citizen in the future by being an ambassador of the Tunisian goodwill and culture to the world. I want to give the world a glance of our amazing traditions, and the first step is to start local and then go global, we need to educate people about international culture and how to manage across cultures.

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With friends at the 2016 CIEE Civic Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.

 My experience in the United States supported my academic success, and I am inspired to reach position where I can make decision that will contribute in the building of the sustainability of our emerging global world. I want to reach the level of education where I can accurately analyze the different roles everyone is taking and be a great leader to solve conflicts related to management to maintain the evolution of globally effective organizations.

By participating in the CIEE Work & Travel USA program and the 2016 Civic Leadership Summit, I now have the skills and tools to be a very effective global citizen and contribute in the solving of the world problems. Through living and working in a nation that is known as the most diverse nation in world, this experience opened the doors for me to study more cultures and learn how to manage to adapt to a culture different than mine. I encourage everyone to participate in an exchange program because it is just the right opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and open the doors for you to explore this big world. 

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Building bridges at the CIEE Civic Leadership Summit

This fall I will have the opportunity to follow my dreams to pursue higher education through the IREX scholarship. I tried one part of the American life and now I need to explore the other side and that’s studying in the U.S. I’m committed to the evolution of my country and trying to make the future look brighter for our future leaders which are us, you, and me, hand by hand we can change the world to a better one.

 

Diversity in Floura and Fauna, and in People: A Marine Biologist Sees the World

"I didn't realize how big the world was until I started spending time abroad."

Samantha Farquhar, CIEE Study Abroad alumna and former program leader for the CIEE Global Navigator High School Study Abroad program in Bonaire, is off to explore more of the world. In January, Samantha embarked on a new adventure to Nepal to work on an aquaculture project. As a marine biologist and humanitarian, the field of international sustainable development came naturally to her. Based in Rampur, Nepal, Samantha traveled to rural communities to collaborate on implementing new aquaculture technology to empower and nourish women. Largely, this involved researching the socioeconomic impacts of an aquaculture initiative started to empower women in rural communities by teaching them to maintain fishponds to benefit economics and nutrition of local families.

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In her article on “Pink Pangea”, an online community for women who love to travel, Samantha describes how she came to this role in Nepal, fusing science and humanitarian work:

“I have always known I wanted to help people, but I never really knew how I was going to go about it. My strengths were always science-based, but I didn’t want to become a doctor. I liked the idea of teaching, but I didn’t want to be stuck in a bureaucratic school system. By the time my senior year of college rolled around, I was doing some serious soul searching. My double major in International Studies and Marine Biology seemed liked an odd combination to many, including myself, but after working with the nonprofit The Full Belly Project, I began to forge my own future endeavors. This organization innovates and distributes tools to rural communities based on the resources available. This sparked my own interests in sustainable development. I decided that I wanted to use my education to help communities protect, utilize, and sustainably manage their environmental resources to help develop and advance the community as a whole.”

In an interview with Samantha, we learned more about the role that CIEE Study Abroad played in shaping who she is today – an aspiring scientist and humanitarian!

What interested you in the CIEE Study Abroad program in Bonaire?

The ability to become trained as a scientific diver was a huge incentive. I was majoring in marine biology so I knew that the training would be beneficial to my career. That, combined with opportunity to live and learn on a beautiful Caribbean Island made it an ideal choice.

What was it like to live and study in Bonaire?

Bonaire was so inspiring for many reasons. The island community is close-knit and really care about preserving their beautiful home so you learn from professors and locals alike. You and your classmates become this big family and support system. You will spend evenings and meals talking about what cool thing happened on the dive or how you are all going to change the world.

I was also surprised with how diverse it was. On this one small island, you can find coral reefs, deserts, mangrove forests, and caves. Wild donkeys roam free, rare jelly fish are constantly being discovered, and thousands of flamingos migrate there every year. I was even able to pick up a little Papiamentu and Dutch while there in addition to improving my salsa dancing. The only negative thing about Bonaire is that the all the beautiful sunsets, diving, and starry nights will spoil you; your standards for such things in the future will be so high that eventually you will realize nothing compares to Bonaire.

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How did studying abroad open your eyes to the world?

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.  

How did studying abroad contribute to your education?

I didn't realize how big the world was until I started spending time abroad. Studying abroad broke me out of this bubble I didn't even know I had. Once I broke the bubble, I learned how small the world was. I found that there are always more similarities with people than differences. This has ultimately inspired me to apply my education to tackle global international issues.

What motivated you to return to Bonaire as a program leader?

I enjoy helping others and teaching. I also had developed a special place in my heart for Bonaire and wanted others to feel the same. So, the opportunity to return there and guide high schoolers through a study abroad experience of their own seemed meant to be.  

What plans do you have for the future?

Well, in the near future, I'm happy to say will be working as a program leader again this summer! This time in Lisbon, Portugal for the Aquatic Ecosystems and Sustainability program. After that, I hope to attend graduate school in the fall to study environmental management or marine affairs.

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Do you have your own story to share? Email alumni@ciee.org to get started!

Alumni Update - June 2017

 


NEWS THIS MONTH

Last Chance to Enter the 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 with the world, by entering the Alumni Storytelling Contest. The deadline is approaching but there's still time to participate! Submit your essay, photo series, or video by June 8 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time) to be in the running to win a $500 Visa gift card. Don't miss your chance! Enter the contest.

Keep an eye on your email and on the @cieealumni social channels for the announcement of winners at the end of the month. Good luck!

CIEE Alumni in Washington, D.C. Featured on European Union Social Page

After a productive brunch meeting at Tonic, several members of the CIEE Alumni Washington, D.C. Chapter went to check out the cultural events happening in celebration of European Union Open House day and the 60th anniversary of the E.U. While decked out in "E.U. pride" accessories, their photo was snapped and featured on the European Union in the United States Facebook page, as well as in their email newsletter! See the feature.

Remembering Last Year's CIEE Civic Leadership Summit

It's summer time, and that means the start of a new CIEE Work & Travel USA season and another impactful CIEE Civic Leadership Summit! Year after year, the CIEE Civic Leadership Summit brings together young leaders from around the world to learn about intercultural awareness, civics, social entrepreneurship, and how to make their communities, and the world, better places. To celebrate another inspiring upcoming Summit, the CIEE Exchange Programs blog featured some highlights from the 2016 Summit. Read the blog post.

"I’ll never forget the incredible people who empowered me to believe change is possible." -Saray Quirant


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 June is Andrew Ralph, who participated in the CIEE Work & Travel USA program in the summer of 2015. Andrew's summer work placement was at CIEE's global headquarters in Portland, Maine, where he learned the ins and outs of the J-1 Visa process in the Unites States. Since he has been back in Ireland, he completed an undergraduate degree in journalism and currently works for the "Dublin People" newspaper while pursuing further education. Read his story.



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


ALUMNI VOICES

Excerpts from recently published alumni stories: 

"Travel leads to world peace...You learn to appreciate and not judge. And it’s not even a forced process; building tolerance and being a less prejudiced person just starts to happen naturally while traveling." -Kassi Oliver (CIEE Study Abroad, 2001)

 


@CIEEALUMNI 


From left: CIEE Work & Travel USA alumni living in Russia met up with current CIEE Study Abroad students in Moscow for an evening of cultural exchange; members of the CIEE Alumni San Francisco Bay Area Chapter volunteered at the 50th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, where they got to see visiting Japanese performers up close and personal; exciting ideas for future events were shared at a brunch meeting for the CIEE Alumni Washington, D.C. Chapter.

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Learning to Embrace Different Cultures: Irish Student Experiences Life in the U.S.

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CIEE Work & Travel USA alumnus Andrew Ralph from Ireland spent the summer of 2015 working at CIEE’s global headquarters in Portland, Maine. During his time at CIEE, Andrew had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the very program he was on and gain a deeper understanding of the J-1 Visa process in the United States. We saw on Twitter that Andrew is a proud CIEE alum so we interviewed him to find out what gives him pride in the CIEE Work & Travel USA program and hear what he’s doing now!

What makes you proud to be a CIEE Work & Travel USA alumnus?

I am extremely and vocally proud to be a CIEE Work & Travel USA alumnus because CIEE profoundly benefited me. The three-and-a-half months I spent in Portland, Maine on the program and working for CIEE were three of the best months of my life – I do not want to praise CIEE and the work that it does in just words – I want to do what I can do for CIEE in practical and active ways too. Looking back on my time at CIEE and on the program, the pride that I have has manifested itself into motivating me to be an ambassador for CIEE and for the program to my peers and to my fellow countryman and countrywomen here in Ireland.

What inspired you to apply for the CIEE Work & Travel USA program?

I applied for the CIEE Work & Travel USA program because I wanted to immerse myself in the American cultural experience; I wanted to truly discover what it is like to work and live in the United States and how that differs to my own country and culture, I wanted to get the opportunity to travel within the United States and see the sights, meet the people, try out the cuisine, and experience all the things that help shape what the United States represents and the image it projects around the world. I was 18 years old when I enrolled in the CIEE Work & Travel USA program. The United States had dominated my life up to that point, and since. Coming from the Anglosphere, or English-speaking world, the United States had an indelible cultural impact on my upbringing, from pop culture to politics to the economy. I was very keen, eager, and interested to finally visit and finally see it and, most importantly, to finally experience it.

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What did you do for work at CIEE’s global headquarters in Portland, Maine?

In Portland, Maine, I was a Work & Travel USA participant services coordinator for CIEE and this was an extremely exciting job. I had the opportunity to use the Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) system, register visa participants on the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database, assist visa participants that had employment issues or healthcare problems that were required to make insurance claims, chaperoned high school exchange program participants in the New York/New Jersey area, and more. Working in the participant services department at CIEE offered me a great deal of valuable insights into the workforce, educational exchange programs, and providing with top quality customer service.

What else did you learn from your experience?

From my experience, I learned to embrace and open my eyes as well as my mind to different cultures, to different ways of doing things, and to people of various nationalities, races, and creeds. After participating in the CIEE Work & Travel USA program, I returned to Ireland in September 2015 having developed and improved my interpersonal skills, my education and knowledge on the world (especially the United States), and my workplace skills. My exchange experience was holistic and multifaceted. It wasn't just about the work that I did – it was also about the people I met, the places I visited, and the lessons I learned. They all positively improved my attitude to life and rendered me a better, stronger, wiser, and more well-rounded person at the end of it.

What are you doing now and what are your plans for the future?

I have just completed my undergraduate degree in journalism. I’m currently working for the “Dublin People” newspaper and I am pursuing a master’s degree in politics and international relations. I hope to have a career in the media or politics someday!

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Do you have your own story to share? Email alumni@ciee.org to get started!

Event Recap: Chapter Meeting & Brunch in D.C.

After the cherry blossom viewing event in March, alumni in the D.C. area were excited to reunite in May at TONIC to catch up and discuss ideas for the upcoming year over brunch and cups of coffee. The meeting brought in alumni from CIEE Study Abroad and CIEE Teach Abroad programs, ranging from the 1980's to the past few years. During the meeting, everyone introduced themselves and shared an idea for the CIEE Alumni Washington D.C. Chapter. Ideas ranged from cultural exchange to cooking classes to volunteering to helping new immigrants settle in the D.C. area. As it was also the day of the European Union Open House, a small group went to check out the E.U. office in D.C., where they celebrated the 60th anniversary of the E.U. by learning more about the history and picking up "E.U. pride" accessories. They were even featured on the European Union in the United States Facebook page!

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Don't miss the next event! Join the CIEE Alumni Washington, D.C. Chapter on Facebook and email alumni@ciee.org to be added to the chapter's email list.

Event Recap: Volunteering at the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

April is known as cherry blossom season in Japan, but CIEE alumni in the San Francisco Bay Area got to experience the special season for themselves at a recent alumni event. On April 15, members of the CIEE Alumni San Francisco Bay Area Chapter volunteered together at the 50th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, one of California's most prominent celebrations of Asian traditions with over 200,000 attendees. Alumni supported the event by managing the back stage gate of one of the performance stages, where they could see artists and performers from all over Japan prepare and perform their acts. Afterwards, they enjoyed coffee and lunch to celebrate a great day of volunteering together. It was the perfect way to give back to the community and celebrate  Japanese and Japanese-American culture in San Francisco's Japantown!

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Don't miss the next event! Join the CIEE Alumni San Francisco Bay Area Chapter on Facebook or email alumni@ciee.org to receive email notifications about upcoming events.