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HAESF alumna cultivates the next generation of female business leaders

In 2015, Anna Tóth traveled to Savannah as an intern through the Hungarian-American Enterprise Scholarship Fund (HAESF). There, she gained valuable experience at the startup engine Creative Coast. Anna has a master's degree in public relations and advertising from Corvinus University. Now back in Hungary, she works as a Business Development Manager at Reliable Education in Budapest. Outside of work, she co-founded The Millennial Women Network, an international network of young women. We interviewed Anna via email.

Anna Toth
Anna Tóth

What did you learn during your year in the United States that has helped you to succeed in your career?

During my year in the United States I gained invaluable leadership skills and built long-lasting transatlantic relationships. Today, I'm still in touch with many people I met in the US - my host, my co-workers, members of the community and my friends. These relationships mean a continuous inspiration for me to grow and make an impact in Hungary.

I always wanted to create a non-profit organization that could help raise living standards in Hungary. During my internship in the United States I realized that creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem could be the key to reach this goal. During my internship I was responsible for organizing Startup Lounge, an event that brings together entrepreneurs and investors. This experience helped me create a vibrant entrepreneurial community with in Budapest.

At 6:20 Chili Nights we help entrepreneurs create new professional connections and get real-time feedback about their businesses. In the last two years, we have hosted 60+ entrepreneurs and created a community of 450+ members from 7 countries. Our mission is to create a thriving and supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hungary and in the region. 

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Anna at a StartupLounge event in Savannah, Georgia

Tell us more about the Millennial Women Network.

I co-founded the Millennial Women Network after returning home to Hungary after my internship. Our mission is to empower young women to become to leaders of the future. As a young woman myself, I realized that there's a lack of available resources for Generation Y women leaders to learn leadership skills, access networks and mentorship. That's why I have co-founded MWN. With my co-founders, Nora Sarkady and Bea Wray, we have created a global online community and we share inspiring stories of successful young women from around the world. We have also launched a mentorship program. We have 100+ members from 24 countries.

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With the Creative Coast team

What is your advice to someone considering a J-1 internship program?

Without my J-1 internship I couldn't have launched an organization that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses. I truly believe that J-1 programs can empower people from all over the world to have the confidence, the necessary skills and networks to create real change and make the world a better place. 

Intern lives out his architecture dreams in Miami

By Pablo Ambrossi, CIEE Internship USA 2017 alum

My name is Pablo Ambrossi and I was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. I am a 22-year-old student set to graduate in 2019 at the School of Architecture in Madrid, the ETSAM. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to continue my father´s legacy and become an architect. When I graduate, I plan to obtain some international experience working abroad before eventually returning to Madrid to work alongside my father.

Pablo Ambrossi at the Flat Iron construction site, Brickell neighborhood, Miami

I wanted to share with you my personal and fortunate experience after getting my J-1 visa stamped at the American embassy in Madrid and fulfilling my longtime dream of going to the United States. Even though it was only for a couple of months, living in the U.S. has taught me how rich and diverse this world is. This has helped me become more open-minded and accepting of other ways of life.

Architecture has always caught my attention because it not only covers basic needs with innovative solutions, but also improves and reflects the quality of life in all societies. This has woken up my interest to visit different countries and enrich my knowledge culturally and professionally. Because I see the U.S. as a cultural and economic leader in this global world, I applied for a two-month internship with Revuelta Architecture International Studio in Miami, Florida. During the internship, I obtained invaluable practical experience in American methods and strategies of architectural design and administration, as well as a familiarity with the American business mentality. During my stay, I encountered another way of managing architecture firms based on a rigorous work-ethic, a flexible work schedule, and continuous employee development. This helped me understand how theoretical ideas are applied to practical situations and how to apply these notions pragmatically to my future career.

Pablo with Senior Project Manager Xavier Iglesias at DPZ CoDESIGN, an architecture and urban planning firm in Miami

I worked in a multicultural environment, as there were people from more than ten countries in the office. There everyone could contribute equally to the development of the different projects in a very open-minded atmosphere. This exchange promoted different ways of thinking, as anyone who wanted to contribute was encouraged to do so and their ideas were always welcome.

In addition to my professional focus, I also took part in daily American culture and lifestyle. I took time to meet locals and visitors who wanted to have fun and enjoy the authentic day and night Miami´s flow. I went to Tampa and Orlando, visited museums, churches, and many other significant pieces of architecture. I also visited the Everglades, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, among other notable Florida destinations.

With friends exploring the Everglades

I firmly believe that this visa program is an incredible opportunity to international students as well as for U.S. citizens. I believe travelling abroad is a very effective way of gaining cultural enrichment. One of the advantages of this Internship program is that Americans benefit from getting to meet students from different cultures combining it with their daily routine. This gives American citizens a chance to build bridges to link themselves to professional and cultural worldwide interactions in the future.

Wynwood Art District, Miami

A few months after I returned home I had the fortune of being selected to participate in the CIEE Alumni event in Madrid. An event organized by CIEE for young people like me who had lived and worked in the USA on an J-1 visa exchange program, so they could share their experiences with each other and representatives of the US Department of State.

When the day came, I prepared a speech and suited up, but when I arrived I realized the event wasn’t what I expected. It was an informal meeting in which we talked face to face with everyone, in a very close and friendly environment. However, they asked me to give my speech and so I did.

David Benze, ECA/EC Policy and Coordination Officer, U.S. Department of State, and Pablo, at a J1 alumni event in Madrid

Thanks to this event I met great people with whom I share many ideas and dreams. I also had the opportunity to talk with very important personalities that, without any doubt, could be of great help in my professional future.

This exchange program was an incredible and priceless experience that has opened many doors for me. I returned home with an improved English speaking ability and a more open mindset. This has allowed me to grow personally as well as professionally. I hope it will continue helping students all over the world to achieve all their goals, culturally and professionally.

Madrid Alumni Event - 12
Connecting with other young program alumni, CIEE staff, and Department of State representatives, Madrid.

BAFF fellow traces her journalism career from a strawberry harvest to the White House

By Anna Ūdre, 2018 Baltic American Freedom Foundation fellow

When I was 15, I decided to try out journalism. During the summer of 2012, at only age 15, I applied for an internship at one of the national news agencies in Latvia. No one really took me seriously since I was young and inexperienced. At first, I was given very simple tasks, but by the end of my time there I had written my very first news story. It was about that year's strawberry harvest. That was all it took, I was hooked. Since then, my career has been quite fruitful. I’ve worked for leading online news media, national radio, national newspapers, and a weekly magazine in Latvia and have also taken part in various projects abroad (including Thailand and Uganda), covering such topics as human and minority rights, development and environmental challenges, and other issues.

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Left: Anna reporting from Uganda in 2017. Right: reporting from Thailand in 2015

Thanks to the Baltic American Freedom Foundation (BAFF) scholarship, I found myself in the capital of the U.S. and of politics last summer. I didn't quit my career as a journalist and continued to freelance from time to time for different media in Latvia, but my main job included working closely with the U.S. Congress, administration, and other key institutions on advocating for Baltic-American issues with the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC). The organization had been collaborating with BAFF fellows before.

I've been very blessed with being in the U.S. during an extremely interesting time. It's been ex-citing to see behind-the-scenes of how the government works and to follow the relationship be-tween two main political parties, and key institutions. The main difference between Latvia and the U.S. is that this country has two main political parties, and people tend to be very passionate about being either "democrats" or "republicans". In Latvia, we have many different parties, and voting is based more on choosing personalities and policies, whereas in the U.S. it's more about historical values that each of the parties stand for. I've been amazed about how passionate Americans are and also about how open Congress is to interacting with constituents. It's a very dynamic scene.

A lot has happened not only domestically in the U.S., but also internationally. It has put this country in a position where serious decisions have to be made, and sometimes there is breaking news not only every day, but every hour.

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Journalists outside the White House, from left, Anna Udre, Arturs Saburovs, Maris Dingelis

The year 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of independence for the Baltic states. During the last century, geopolitics in the Baltics changed significantly with the rise and fall of the former Soviet Union. It's notable that the U.S. never recognized Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as part of the Soviet Union and stood by their freedom. Dozens of centennial events are taking place in the U.S., a country where lots of Baltic people settled during the 20th century while fleeing wars and occupation. This year is about celebrating the diplomatic, economic, cultural, and other ties between our countries.

On April 3, all three presidents of the Baltic states arrived in Washington, D.C. to meet with the president of the U.S. Thanks to the BAFF program, I was in the U.S. and got to be one of the journalists covering the Baltic Summit both for the main online media and for one of the national newspapers in Latvia. The Summit started with a lunch meeting in the White House during which President Trump discussed a number of topics - he congratulated the Baltic states for fulfilling NATO's commitments and reaching 2% of GDP for security matters, confirmed further U.S. support to the Baltic states, and stressed the importance of building relations with countries such as Russia and China, despite the challenges. The room was packed with journalists and it was interesting to observe how everyone was fighting for a better position, in hopes of asking a question. It was my first time seeing President Trump in person. Even though I was occupied with reporting, I felt like it was an important moment - being in the same room with the President of one of the largest countries in the world. 

U.S. President Donald Trump with the presidents of the Baltic States and other high officials having lunch at the White House. Photo credit: Anna Udre

After lunch, all four presidents gathered in the East Wing of the White House for a press conference. The presidents reaffirmed the need for continued close defense cooperation and also the need for establishing closer business cooperation. All Baltic journalists there had been informed beforehand that each country would get to ask one question only. From Latvia, the question had been assigned to a journalist from national television. When the press conference was concluding, President Trump decided to give another chance to Baltic journalists and asked the president of Latvia to "pick a reporter”. The situation was pretty intense.

Press conference with presidents of the Baltic States and President of the U.S. in the East Wing of the White House

Since I hadn't been expecting to ask a question, I was typing on my computer and reporting back to online media about what was happening. Every Baltic journalist was confused about what to do in this situation, and you could feel the whole room getting tense and waiting on what was going to happen. A Latvian diplomat from behind me started poking my shoulder to encourage me to ask a question and to give the president of Latvia another chance to speak. I put my computer down, put my hand up, still not knowing what I was going to ask and to whom, and then it just happened. President Trump looked at me and gave me the floor. Someone gave me the microphone and I stood up, trying not to drop my camera and phone that I still had in my hands. I addressed my question to Mr. Vējonis about his upcoming official visit to Silicon Valley.

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Source: CNN

It all happened very fast and unexpectedly. The lesson learned from this situation is to always be prepared. There can be protocol and rules, but we are all human, and things can change. Opportunities must be seized.

The Baltic Summit was followed by a U.S.-Baltic Business Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At the end of the day, the Baltic leaders attended a dinner hosted by the Atlantic Council, where high-level representatives from various fields participated, including National Security Advisor LTG H.R. McMaster. During his speech, McMaster commented that "The people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, who endured the devastation of the Second World War, decades of Soviet occupation and communism, and emerged proud, strong, sovereign, free, and prosperous. These are three of the most creative and innovative nations on Earth."

It was a historic day and it turned out to be a big deal for me. I'm happy to have been there and to have seized the opportunity. I'm also very thankful to the BAFF scholarship for giving me the opportunity to gain relevant professional experience in the U.S. and to grow as a person. In only 11 months I've experienced great professional growth by working at an American organi-zation, met amazing people, and become more confident about who I am. I'm excited to return back to Latvia.

To see Anna's question and President Vējonis' response, play the video below! 



Who Will I Meet, What Will I Learn, What Will I See That I Haven’t Seen Before? Kenner's Winter in Utah

By Kenner Sanchez, CIEE Work & Travel USA 2018 participant from Nicaragua

My name is Kenner. I’m from Nicaragua and I’m a university student in Managua, my country’s capital city. Being a part of the CIEE Work & Travel USA program was undoubtedly one the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. It all began when my English teacher told me about CIEE and talked me into applying for the program. After doing my own research, I knew that I wanted to participate because this was a program that brought together people from all over the world to share their culture and history with each other. This was the first time I’ve been to the U.S or outside my country. So I took with me what it really means to be independent, to live on my own, away from home or everyone I knew, adjusting to a new country, a different weather, a totally different life.

In New York

I worked at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah during the 2017/2018 winter season, as a Ticket Cashier, which means I was on the front lines of customer service. I helped people get around and sold them tickets. We had what we called Satellite Offices scattered all over the mountains, which was a great way to get to know the place. One day I might be working at the main office, but more often than not I’d be high up somewhere in the mountains, surrounded by trees, snow and, of course, skiers. This made my job really interesting. The landscape, the weather, and even the people never failed to amaze me; there was simply so much to see.

Deer Valley
 Somehow, in just a few days, coworkers became friends and roommates became family. Work was more like paid vacation.  We always had a good time and snacks in the office, and I worked with the nicest people I’ve ever met, always open to friendship and companionship and willing to help me at all times.  There was a strong sense of hard work and innovation, and I believe having the opportunity to work in Utah, this being my very first job, gave me a head start in the job market. I learned from my coworker’s strong work ethic, punctuality, responsibility, and commitment. I am sure that this will stay with me forever and have a positive and lasting impact in my future. 

The greatest manager and friend

While in the U.S., I experienced American culture firsthand! I learned to ski for the very first time and that is something that I’ll have with me forever: winter, snow, and skiing was definitely a great way to spend those three months. I went to the 2018 FIS Visa Freestyle International World Cup and the Sundance Film Festival and visited Salt Lake City, New York, Philadelphia, and Wilmington.  Suddenly anything seemed possible; nothing was out of my reach.  I was in America, making memories that will last a lifetime and meeting people that will forever have a place in my heart.

Beatiful snow

I got to see and learn so much about America and American people in an environment that allowed easy and honest exchange. My job allowed me to spend much of my time talking with my coworkers just about any topic that might cross our minds. I got to meet Americans from California, Maryland, Utah, Nevada and New York State (to name a few) and they would talk to me about things like their upbringing and their home state. I, in return, would talk about the numerous natural traits of a small country like mine like our lakes, rivers, volcanoes and islands. By the end of the season, my views on America expanded to fit in things I hadn’t known about the United States’ great history and culture.

In Philadelphia

I am majoring in International Relations, so I wanted to meet more people and expand my knowledge of international affairs while in the U.S., but through the eyes of those living through them. The fact that I made friends that were willing to share their ideas with me filled me with satisfaction and I took the opportunity to learn as much as possible. If we want to bring about sympathy, understanding, and cooperation among Nations, it is of great importance to appreciate other countries cultures.
Friends and me

I enjoyed every second of my program. From the sharp cold, to those rare occasions when the sun shone through the clouds and falling snow, making it look like glitter descending from the sky, how it warmed my face even though the rest of me was cold. Those long bus rides through mountains, staring out the window, snow and trees as far as I could see, letting my mind wonder off to the possibilities of the day: who will I meet, what will I learn, what will I see that I haven’t seen before? This excitement never left me and made of my stay a continuous adventure, filled with hope, friendship, and joy.  I grew as a person and as a professional.  I met amazing people and I learned so many useful things. I’m sure that this experience will shape my future and help me be the best version of myself. 


HAESF professional intern alum makes waves in robotics

Tamas Haidegger came to the U.S. in 2007 as a Professional Intern through the Hungarian American Enterprise Scholarship Fund (HAESF). He was a research intern at the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics at Johns Hopkins University, working on a neurosurgical robot. In the 10+ years since, Tamas has launched an impressive career as an entrepreneur, researcher, and scholar. He is deputy director of the newly created Antal Bejczy Center for Intelligent Robotics, ÓbudaUniversity in Budapest. He is also CEO of the startup HandInScan, developers of the Semmelweis System of hand hygiene quality management, now in use in North American, European, and Japanese health care institutions. The company has employed multiple HAESF alumni in its research, development, and marketing efforts. In October 2015 Tamas Haidegger was awarded the prestigious Dennis Gabor Award in the Hungarian Parliament for his entrepreneurial achievements. The HAESF team caught up with Tamas recently and asked him about his work. 

Tamas Haidegger

Your research is in the field of Long Distance Teleportation control. Could you tell us more about what this is and your work? 

I was very interested in Space Robotics and through a Physician colleague, who asked questions about the possibility about performing long distance surgery in space, my interest in this area increased. Despite the fact that surgical robotics started in 1975 with the aim to support astronauts, there was no research on the physical consequences of space travel. Hence I chose the topic of my thesis to be the feasibility of such analysis and whether tele-surgery will be possible.

The field of long distance teleportation control became a hot topic in research when tele-robotics became possible. There are a lot of transatlantic and transcontinental robotic research experiments that are undertaken in this area today. In the meantime, I still think that it is very extreme and the more we think about going to the moon and shooting from Mars the more interesting the area is becoming.

Tamas as an intern, dreaming of space exploration

How did the idea of HandInScan come about? 

The idea of HandInScan came from one of my students who worked in hospitals. He researched the process doctors and nurses sanitized their hands after surgery. There are a lot of market products but when not used properly can cause infections which actually happens more times than we know of. In the western world, statistics also say that about 200,000 people die because of secondary infections they receive at hospitals during getting a treatment. HandInScan is an engineering machine which scans hands to point out the missed areas after regular sanitization is done. There is also a reporting function in the machine which sends reports and statistics to the management for analysis to make sure that processes are running correctly.

Tamas with Hand in Scan
Tamas with the HandInScan equipment

Between conducting research, leading a company and teaching, how do you manage your time? 

Excellence in research involves good methodology, very thorough basic knowledge and good people you work with can really make you successful in research and this can be translated into good startups. Teaching has provided me with the sales skills required to run this startup successfully. Also because the company is embedded into the university itself, management is something that I think I am doing well.

How do you think that your experience as a professional intern in the United States has shaped your career? 

The  HAESF  internship  was  a  life-changing  experience, which still determines   my  daily activities. I learnt quite a bit about high-end scientific  resarch,  researchc  and  education management, laboratory project  management, scientific paper and grant writing, and picked up various other soft skills. Also, the professional relationships lasted: I have sent numerous students to the US, having joint grants with Johns Hopkins University and an active working relationship with numerous groups I got to know during my stay.

What is your advice to young people just starting out their careers?

Two key messages that I really live by and would like to share with young professionals worldwide. First, if you can enjoy your job, you will never have to work your entire life.  And secondly, as an entrepreneur the best thing you can do is get smarter people aboard and make them excited about your problem. And this will help you be creative both in academic and business.

At home in the Galapagos: Alejandra's Story, Part II

By Alejandra Cox, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant, 2011, 2013, 2014, and Civic Leadership Summit fellow, 2014. Read Part I from Alejandra's story first!

I graduated from University two years ago and I have returned to my islands. I can spend more time with my family again even though we live on separate islands. I’m working as a communicator at an institution of cultural management in Ecuador and also with an NGO called Ecology Project International (EPI). Its purpose is empowering the next generation of conservation leaders. I have the opportunity to be close to children and young people in my community and we teach them Galapagos topics such as geology, protecting the environment, natural history, climate, human history, and evolution through disciplines such as painting, dance, and music. I believe that the experience of having been in the United States, and specifically being part of the Civic Leadership Summit, helped me to realize how committed each of my colleagues was with their personal aspirations, and how important it is to set a goal to reach it. I also loved that CIEE encouraged us to do something in our community back home.

These photos are just some of the hundreds I have from a recent summer camp we had during school vacation. The teachers from Casa de la Cultura Galápagos (CCENG) were in charge of teaching the kids: dance, painting and music, while the EPI teachers taught them conservation topics.
Alejandra Camp 1
Alejandra Camp 2

At this time of year, the children of Galápagos are on school vacation. So, we created a summer camp with countless activities to keep the children occupied in a productive way. I asked my boss if could teach a mobile device photography workshop to children on Floreana Island (located two hours away from mine by ferry) and he said YES! These children are far from all luxuries and resources are scarce. For example, there is not much water on the island and they must wait for long periods of time for the cargo ship to arrive with food. The resources and opportunities are not the same as in the other islands.

Alejandra Camp 3

During the photography workshop in Floreana, classes were taught in the classroom of the only school that exists on the island. First I taught them a theory class and then we went out to take pictures of the beach or of the pier. They took photos of pelicans, land and marine iguanas, turtles, crabs, sea lions and plants, in this living laboratory as is Galapagos!

Alejandra Camp 4

While I was on Floreana Island, I took pictures of the people who live on the island for my personal project called “Gente de Galápagos” or “People of the Galapagos”. I photograph the people of Galapagos from the first residents to the new generations, accompanied by a text where they tell me a little of their daily life. I usually choose people who do some work that contributes as a good example to the rest of the community.

Alejandra HONY 1
Alejandra HONY 2
You can follow us on Instagram @gentedegalapagos and Facebook: facebook.com/gentedegalapagos

Sometimes, when I walk through the streets of my island, there are some sites that come like a small breeze accompanied by the warmest smells of my summers: smells like Lake Erie, cotton candy of many flavors, and fresh almonds just made. This is when all my senses get activated, and here's when I can hear and I can see the birds flying over me in a wide orange sunset of July.

 It’s interesting because people are always asking me how did I do it, how did I apply for the CIEE Work & Travel USA Program, what are some tips I can give them. Every time I tell them about the process and the experience behind all of this, it creates a mixture of feelings inside me that contains joy and sadness; it means talking about a time in which I would like to return again and again!

At home in the world: Alejandra's story, Part I

By Alejandra Cox, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant 2011, 2013, and 2014; Civic Leadership Summit fellow, 2014. Check back later this week for Part II of Alejandra's story.

 Hello! My name is Alejandra Cox. I’m 27 years old; I’m originally from the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. I was born and raised in a little Island called San Cristóbal. After I finished high school I moved to Quito, the capital of Ecuador to study Advertising at “Universidad de Las Américas”. During that time I was always trying to keep busy, so I started taking some basic photography courses, and since that moment my love for photography began.

I got to know about the CIEE Work & Travel USA program because a friend of mine told me that she was going to spend her summer in at amusement park called Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. She would talk to me about her trip while we were working together at a restaurant in Quito, but I never gave her much attention until the time she got to the U.S and started sharing photos of her summer! I waited for her to come back from her trip so I could ask her all of the questions I had. She told me that it was a totally different experience because there were people from all over the world; she also told me that the work was hard but was worth it because at the end of the program you had the chance to travel around the U.S.

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The sunsets are my favorite moments to capture photos. This one, was taken outside the park, from here you can see my favorite roller coaster: Millennium Force. (Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio)

At the age of 20 all I wanted to do was travel and get to know more about other countries. I wanted to go somewhere else instead of taking my vacations in the same place. Now, I realized that it was my time to go to the U.S.

The opportunity to travel abroad without my parents for the very first time gave me the impression that it was going to be a very special trip. I was a little bit scared, of course, because I knew it was going to be a challenge learning how to develop myself in another country. Plus, the fact of speaking a language that was not mine! So I took this as a valuable gift. From the moment I arrived in the United States I was always sharing my adventures on social networks, posting stuff, talking about everything because of my love for photography and videos.

In 2011, I went to Sandusky, Ohio with Karla, one of my best friends. Here I was working as a sweeper and she was working as a housekeeper at “Breakers Hotel”.

Alejandra Sweepers
With the whole group of sweeper girls who were in charge of cleaning the entrance area of the park. In this photo we’re in front the main arcade. Most of my colleagues were European. I was the only girl from South America. (I’m the girl wearing the blue sweater, always cold used to my tropical weather)

I really enjoyed my job, my uniform, my co-workers, my long walks around the park that gave me a beautiful summer tan (crazy tan lines also!). What I learnt during this time about myself was that I enjoyed helping the guests and giving them information about the Park. At the same time, I was improving my English. American people are funny and very kind; I felt like I was home.

In 2013 my classmate Verónica traveled with me. It was not difficult to convince her to join me- she just listened carefully to all my stories about my first summer in the United States! I was working in foods, selling ice cream (Dippin' Dots yummy!!) in a wagon between my favorites roller coasters. My last year at Cedar Point was the summer of 2014. I went back with my dear friend Verónica. This time I was a waitress in a Restaurant called “Chickie’s and Pete’s”. I always told myself that if I returned each year to the same place, I should at least change my job position to experience and learn about new things.

Alejandra Server
Working as a hostess at Chickie's and Pete's restaurant inside Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, Ohio

2014  was also the year I was selected for the Civic Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. 71 youth chosen from over 900 applicants of 34 or more countries, how great are we? Great enough to change the world! Of course it was an honor for me to be able to attend the Civic Leadership Summit and be the only Ecuadorian person who can act as ambassador of my country during those 3 days. I felt a big responsibility over my actions, because I was the image of my country. When I set foot in Washington D.C., I knew I was going to network with valuable and interesting people, and indeed they were. We had many things in common such as personal aspirations and clear objectives that each of us wanted to achieve. We still message each other to see how everyone is doing.

At the end of my trip I made a collection of the best Civic Leadership Summit moments and made a simple but significant final work video.

CIEE Civic Leadership Summit from Alejandra Cox on Vimeo.

I think the most meaningful experience I had in the U.S was spending time with the right people, and by this I mean people who teach you something, who make you grow as a human being. I also learned to live in the moment because you never know if you'll ever see those people in your life again. I once read a quote from Miriam Adeney that said: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” I totally identify with this phrase because good friends become family, and when you have to leave a place it’s like if a piece of your heart is staying there. Sometimes when I say I miss a place, it is not mostly because I miss the geographical site, but the times, friends, people.

Alejandra CLS
With my fellows from the Civic Leadership Summit during a guided tour around the city of Washington D.C. (Yes! I’m in the back row, 5th from the right :) )

My American Winter Photo Contest: the winner!

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest." Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos and videos! We loved every single one, but we loved how this CIEE Work Traveler really captured the essence of his winter in Vermont, time shared with friends, and new adventures. He also received the most likes on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page. Congratulations to our winner, and thanks to all who entered the contest!

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My American Winter Photo Contest: Part 5

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest." Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos! In this post, we share two of our contest finalists. Check back tomorrow to see the contest winner! We'll be highlighting more of the photos we received on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page, so be sure to check it out!


My American Winter Photo Contest: Part 4

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest." Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos! In this post, we share two of our contest finalists. Check back in the coming weeks to see more finalists and the contest winner! We'll be highlighting more of the photos we received on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page, so be sure to check it out!