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A Summer to Remember: Bulgarian Student Experiences an American Summer Camp

By Ruzanna Sahakyan, CIEE Camp Exchange USA participant


My name is Ruzanna Sahakyan, I was born in Armenia but grew up in Bulgaria. I graduated from the National High School of Humanitarian Science and Arts and I am currently one state exam close to getting my bachelor’s degree in English and American studies. I live in the most beautiful city in Bulgaria - more precisely the sea capital, Varna - and right now I am doing my camp exchange program in the USA.

Visiting the USA has been one of my biggest dreams since I was 16 and now that I am in the USA it feels too surreal. Currently I live in Winthrop, ME where I am a counselor at the YMCA Camp of Maine. Camp comes to an end soon and my time in the USA is almost up. When I go back home my first priority will be to take my state exams and become an official bachelor’s graduate. Then I will start a job in order to save some money for yet another adventure. I will apply for a master’s degree in American studies in Bulgaria, however, I will spend the full academic year abroad as an Erasmus exchange student. Afterwards, when I am done with my job, master’s degree, and the exchange program, I will most likely enroll in some other type of exchange program. The thing I love the most about all those exchange programs is that a person gets to travel to different destinations without having to spend a lot of money.


I’m so grateful I got the chance to do my exchange program in the USA as it was one of the most affordable ways to come here, and I ended up having a great summer. I decided to be part of the CIEE Camp Exchange USA program for 2017 because, as I mentioned above, it has always been a dream of mine to visit the U.S. Also, I love traveling, I love teaching yoga and other sports and crafts, and now I know that I like working with kids as well. My responsibility at camp is to take care of the kids 24 hours, be their role model, their encouragement, their inspiration, and their teacher.

I have spent 1 month and 29 days at the YMCA Camp of Maine here at the Pine Tree state and I will have to leave this amazing place soon with a very heavy heart. One of the many interesting things about camp is that we have counselors, campers, and other staff members from all around the globe: Spain, Canada, China, UK, Ireland, Wales, Turkey, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Vietnam. I am very happy that the camp finally has Bulgarian and Armenian representatives. Not only do we have an amazing staff from different parts of the world, which makes the kids more open minded and enriches their culture, but also we have a very wide range of activities for the kids. Some of the activities include: Aqua Friendship Bracelet Making, Arts and Crafts Around the World, Mad Scientist, Improv, Lacrosse, Zumba, Yoga, Tennis, Ultimate Frisbee, Creature Catching, Challenge, etc. We make sure that our kids are never bored and that they will learn many new skills to show to their parents and friends.

School Bus Group Shot

I have heard many negative comments about the USA like that the kids are very spoiled, the nature has been wiped off from the face of the USA, the food is bad, and the people can be rude. Interestingly, I was glad to find out that all these things turned out to be so far from the truth. There are many factories and skyscrapers, indeed, but now I know from all the road trips that the nature here is incredibly rich and beautiful too. One can find spoiled kids almost everywhere and one thing is for sure - I didn’t meet any spoiled kids at camp! People in the U.S. are so gentle, kind, willing to help, and courteous. I was warned that the food here is mostly genetically modified, filled with sugars, carcinogenic ingredients and artificial coloring; these types of foods can be found in almost every place on the earth, not only in the U.S. Fortunately, here at camp, the people in charge make sure that the kids have access to healthy and nourishing foods and some treats for when they have a sweet tooth; the kitchen staff provides food for all the people who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten and lactose intolerant, allergic to certain nuts, and so on. In the end of the day, it was up to the kids whether they will reach for a fruit or go for the burgers, and we always encouraged them to drink water and have a few pieces of fruit.

I love everybody at camp because every single person is so kind and nice to the others. Not to mention how kind and sweet the directors and unit leaders, are which makes us feel all equal. Hands down, my most favorite people are Kim (aka the “Camp’s Mom”), Jeff Gleason’s wife, Lester who is the program director, and Natalie (aka “The Glitter Queen”) who is the arts and craft director. These people and everybody else made us, the counselors, feel at home away from home.

I have learned so many useful skills here at camp which I can easily put into use in my life; I learned skills which made me a better person. I have improved my communications skills, I have learned how to behave around children, how to be their role model and moral support, I have learned new skills and became more comfortable leading sport classes. I have experienced so many “first time” things like first time kayaking, making s'mores, eating Swedish Fish, being at a camp, seeing chipmunks, watching Netflix, etc. All these things combined made me more confident, which is something I have always lacked.

Closing Camp Fire-2

The past two months have been filled with so much laughter, positive energy, learning, dancing, singing, road trips, Game of Thrones nights with the staff members, camp fires, etc. I write this with a heavy heart because there is only one day left  until the end of camp. Camp has been a place for me to spend my days with no stress, anxiety, negative energy, drama, worries, and all the other things from the reality. I will definitely miss the YMCA Camp of Maine and now it has a huge spot in my heart. My exchange program here at the YMCA Camp of Maine means a lot to me as it taught me how to be more responsible, honest, caring and respectful- the four core values we teach the kids here at Ycamp.

My advice to those who are interested in coming to the U.S. on CIEE Camp Exchange USA is to decide which part of the U.S. they want to live in - west, east, south, etc. - and then decide on a camp. Once you know that you want to work on the East Coast, for example, then it is going to be easier to decide on a camp. Secondly, if you do end up choosing a camp on the East Coast but you are completely sure that you want to travel on the West Coast post-camp, then I highly recommend buying plane tickets in advance as it is going to save you some money. Thirdly, if you are a big train enthusiast, then you should definitely buy in advance one of Amtrak’s train journeys. In general: make sure to bring your laptop, have some extra cash on you, plan your post-camp trip in advance, install the Hostel World app on your mobile device, as well as the MapMe app, prepare some amazing camp appropriate songs, stories, jokes, dances, and more ahead of time, and you will be ready for a summer filled with positive energy, laughter, swimming, sports, dances, and travels.

Civic Leadership Alumni Organize First Annual Green Art Festival in Kosovo

By Guxim Klinaku and Grese Koca, CIEE Work & Travel USA  and Civic Leadership Summit alumni

Grese and Guxim at the 2016 Civic Leadership Summit

Grese and I are cofounders of an environmental NGO in Kosovo called Keep It Green. The idea for the Green Art Festival was created in 2014 and developed even more at the Civic Leadership Summit last year. The CLS was an extraordinary help to the project. The group work on the summit was a great push for the idea and the project in general. The lessons and activities of CLS had a huge impact on developing and strengthening the skills needed to get back and do community service.

The first annual Green Art Festival was held in Obiliq in 2016. We wanted to raise the voices of young artists through a festival that shows the huge environmental problems that our country deals with. Obiliq is one of the most polluted cities in Europe according to the World Bank report published in 2016. We envisioned a green festival in the backyard of power plants raising awareness through art about the hazardous levels of air pollution in the area. This was our first year, and we faced a lot of problems, but personally I think we learned a lot from the experience. The true challenge of organizing a festival is managing the human resources, and working in detail to make it fun for the audience and the participants. The festival was supported by the U.S. Embassy in Prishtina, Kosovo United States Alumni, and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs. 

Grese, Guxim, and Keep it Green Council Member Muhamed Sallover at the 2017 Green Art Festival, Obiliq, Kosovo (l-r)

Now we are working on the Green Art Festival 2018 to make it even bigger next year. We are also submitting project proposals to a couple of organizations with concrete projects that would make significant changes in our communities. We have established a firm partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo and American Corner here. From CLS 2016, we started to believe that everyone has the power to make a change in their community, no matter how small you start. We learned that by taking smaller steps first, one can make the huge jump in the future.

Apart from our week in Washington DC, we worked as ice cream specialists in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. We dipped and served ice cream in a small store near the beach, talked to locals, made new friends and had the chance to explore the American lifestyle. For us it was extremely interesting to learn about a new culture and share bits of our country with Americans. For us, this exchange was not about working in the States, it was about creating bridges of friendship and understanding between two countries at a level that only a program such as Summer Work Travel can provide.

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Riding bikes in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

This exchange experience has been life changing for us. It helped us be more independent and shaped our personalities for the better. We were able to take the good examples of the United States and bring and implement them in our country. We are glad that we made the most of this experience and beyond thankful for the opportunity.

See more from the Green Art Festival in the video below. To learn more about how to support Grese and Guxim and their nonprofit Keep it Green, visit their Facebook page or GoFundMe.


A Summer to Remember, a Chapter I Won't Forget

By Angela Adap, CIEE Work & Travel USA alumna from the Philippines

In my twenty-one years of existence, my exchange experience changed me a lot, and trust me, it’s for the good, I became and I am my best self because of it. A lot of things happened in my two-and-a-half month stay in the US, each moment is priceless and I got tons of memories inside my head that I wouldn't trade for anything. I gained knowledge about so many things, like the American culture, dollars, businesses, what happens inside a hotel, housekeeping and more. Other than that, I found friends that I will keep forever. In my exchange experience, I found myself, I became stronger, wiser and independent and I love who I am now.

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Angela and coworkers at Brett Robinson

Being a Filipino with a lot of beliefs, it was pretty surprising to me how free and independent the Americans are. We have a lot of differences when it comes to the culture. I was inspired that the Americans at a very young age of 15 are already working their part time jobs in a souvenir shops and restaurant. It is not a usual thing in my country, and that is why I admired the teenagers there for acting more than their age, and I think being mature in this present era is something else.

I have so many memories of my time in the U.S., but one that stands out the best is the Fourth of July. My first time in America and I was celebrating one of the biggest holidays, and I am grateful for that. My friends from different countries (Romania, Moldova, Turkey and Bulgaria.... yes, me and my friend Grace were the only Asians) gathered at the beach to watch the fireworks, and it was a blazing, loud and wonderful. Red, white, and blue stand out in the dark sky. There's no perfect way that could describe what we saw and that we were all together made it special as well.

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On the beach on the Fourth of July

It is not only outside of work that I had fun, at work as well. To be honest, at first I didn't like my job. I never saw myself in housekeeping. But I went out of my comfort zone and gave it a try. It was challenging and hard at first, but when you get used to it, it's just a piece of cake. To me, the best thing about my job in Brett Robinson is that we gave people the high quality and satisfaction of service. We didn’t settle for just an average rating for guest experience but we always loved to hear "I had the best time in here! And I am surely coming back."

I learned that we shouldn't define people from the mistakes that they make, in fact, we correct them and allow them to start over and move on.

I wouldn't be who I am now without the help of my ever loving supervisor, Glenda. When I first met her, I was intimidated. In her eyes shows a woman with strong personality and I like it. Getting to know her made me discover that behind the toughness that she has, lies a very soft and puffy heart.

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Angela with her supervisor, Glenda

I was not a perfect housekeeper, but she molded me and trained me with patience in the best way that she could. Each day, she inspired me to work at my hardest without any pressure that I felt. I grew, I evolved and just like a butterfly out of my cocoon, I became the best worker that I could be. I worked with integrity, passion and love for the rooms that I cleaned and the guest that we give service to.

From Ms. Glenda, I learned that we shouldn't define people from the mistakes that they make, in fact, we correct them and allow them to start over and move on. She kept our office a blame-free environment, and this was very important and helpful to us housekeepers.

Having a boss like her is something impossible to forget. Returning here in the Philippines, I still hear her voice inside my head. In times that I am in a caught in the act situation in things that I don’t know how to deal with, in my mind I ask myself, what would Glenda say? Or what would Glenda do? And it became helpful to me and I’d be carrying all the values that I learned from her, the life advice that she shared and taught me when I was in America, it will always be with me in my future endeavors.

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Fun in the laundry room

Just the same when I was young, but with the Work and Travel USA program became strong and made me dream bigger and more. I always wanted to live and work in America, I always have this American dream in me, attached to my soul and my spirit. I don't know what the future holds for me, but I plan on making every day, a day of growth and making steps towards my dream.

This is the story of my Exchange experience, the best of the best time of my life.

Angela 5
At the beach in Alabama


Changemaking in Action: the 2017 CIEE Civic Leadership Summit

During the first week of August a select group of participants from the Summer Work & Travel (SWT) program gathered on campus of the American University in Washington, D.C. for the 5th annual CIEE Civic Leadership Summit. This is the third time two different designated J-1 sponsor organizations (CENET and CIEE) partnered to bring together 45 fellows from 40 countries. This amazing diversity intensified the richness of the Summit experience and challenged the fellows to reach out deeper across country, culture and language borders.

These young leaders competed with over 2,100 applicants for a chance to participate in this year’s Summit. The three day program comprised of a series of dynamic workshops designed to build intercultural awareness, social entrepreneurship skills, understanding of civics and rule of law.

Participants share their stories and observations:

Mahmoud Abdelkareem from the West Bank


CLS participant Mahmoud Abdelkareem

During the summit I had the opportunity to meet 45 students, innovators, motivators and thinkers from all over the world. The same people all shared one common thing and that is they want to make the world a better place, they shared common grounds and cultures despite being thousands of miles away from each other, they shared respect, thought, innovation and many other attitudes of great world leaders. I made some deep connections with all of them basically, and learned something new about every single one of them. This Summit taught me how to think in a different way, and how a couple of people from different cultures can get together and solve common issues in little or no time, because you don't need time or lots of money, you just need some mutual respect and support, that's what will get us through at the end of the day.

I realize now that this wasn't a trip to Washington DC, this was a trip all around the world, DC was just a connecting flight.

Amy Allen from the United Kingdom

CLS Participant Amy Allen

It may seem as though the tour of D.C. would be an obvious favourite part of the week, but for me, I loved the cultural development sessions and the other deep conversations I had with the fellows regarding our cultures and global issues. This week has ignited something within me to make a change and difference, as well as travel to all these amazing countries and experience their cultures for myself. “You can make a change if you have a passion, the willingness to take a risk and taking this risk”, (Kevin Saba, 2017).

Gresë Kosa and Guxim Klinaku, Civic Leadership 2016 Alumni from Kosovo

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Gresë Kosa at the Green Art Festival

As the Summit was coming to an end, participants were inspired by the message received from the 2016 alumni from Kosovo, Gresë Kosa and Guxim Klinaku, who shared their changemaker success story about the project they started at the 2016 Civic Leadership Summit. With the support of their fellow changemakers from around the world, Gresë and Guxim took their Summit venture idea, developed it further, and started an environmental non-profit in Kosovo “Keep it Green,” whose primary mission is to develop and create projects that are related to environmental protection. The organization recently hosted its first Green Art Festival to raise awareness about environmental issues among citizens.

Guxium shared his reflections: “Me and Gresë just finished a wonderful project in Obiliq, Kosovo. This idea, was developed in CIEE Leadership Summit last year. We worked with a lot of friends from all around the world to implement this idea that I've had for a long time. Green Art Festival, the first of its kind in my country started its first edition with a painting and photo competition. The CIEE leadership fellas contributed a lot to make this idea perfect. A profound thank you to everyone for their feedback and contribution!!”

Want to learn more about this event? Watch this video and read this blog entry from last year’s Summit.

Jamal's Summer at Camp: Part 3

Last summer Jamal Richardson, a student from St. Mary’s University in the UK, traveled to Pennsylvania to work as a camp counselor. We asked him to reflect on his experience at camp, and will be featuring several posts. Start with Part 1 and Part 2.

What did you learn at camp?

During Camp, you realize how good you are at things you never know you could do. Camp makes you so open about things, you lose a lot of self-conscious issues there. For example, you may get embarrassed performing, or acting a clown, then suddenly you’re over there with the kids and with your friends, and your dancing around, performing in plays, taking up new skills you turn round and say “if I was anywhere else, I definitely would not be doing this.”

Camp helps you grow up and realize what you’re capable of as an individual, you’re so far away from your comfort zone, you find your own footing in terms of leadership, time management, looking after others. You realize how independent you are, more so than in Uni, because you’re in a different continent doing these things.

You realize, that at times, especially when the long days start kicking in, especially in the first week, you’re going to find that you have the patience of the saint, and then some! But all these things come together when you find yourself doing new things, that by the time you feel those last few days sinking in, you know you’re going to miss it.

Jamal campers
You go back home and all your doing is telling your friends about the skills you have learnt, that you didn’t know you could do these things, all these dances you’ve learnt, all the kids you’ve met and how they are special and how they have changed. All you’re going to be talking about for ages is camp this, camp that, you will probably be going to get your friends and family fed up of hearing about it and maybe even, decide you want to go again next year!

Jamal1 - cabin


Vlogging Across America: Nick's Story

By Nikita Bazhenov, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant and CIEE High School USA alum

Nick 1

Hi, my name is Nikita Bazhenov. I am from Russia and I am on a work and travel program this year. In Russia I am a third year student in Higher School of Economics studying Sociology. I work as a cashier at Adventure Aquarium in Camden,NJ, just across the bridge from Philadelphia, PA. Another fun fact: I have a daily vlog. Yes, here on the program, I try to create a movie every single day, sometimes I fail and have to catch up but I still have not missed a day.

I’ve already been to the US, I lived here for a year and went to Santiam Christian High School in Oregon. That was five years ago, and this time I came to get an experience of adult life in the U.S. Being a kid in high school in the U.S. was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about the culture of the United States, and my host family shared a lot of knowledge with me, so this time I knew what to expect from this country.

I never thought I would visit US as an exchange student ever again, and that was a totally spontaneous decision made by me and my girlfriend Anastasia this winter. To give you some context, I love filming events, parties, pretty much anything in this world, but I never took time to do it. Mostly because I was busy working and studying at the university at the same time. Moreover, I was in desperate need of equipment (like a camera at least) because the one I was using was a 2013 Canon, bought by Anastasia, so it was not even mine. With my salary at that time I would have taken a couple of years to save up for a decent camera, so we decided to come here, to work, travel, and share our experience with other people who might want to join us on our journey.

Nick 2

Another point was that my English level really went down at that time. Compared to my English level after attending high school in the U.S., I had forgotten a lot, and I had to fix that problem as fast as I could. I knew the CIEE office in St Petersburg from my previous FLEX experience, so I was able to go with CIEE.

As for the skills and knowledge I got during this program…there are 2 parts of this question. If we are talking about making movies – I learned way more this summer than I’ve learned in the last 3 years shooting. The other thing is, I value travelling more than anything, it’s a great way to learn about the world you live in. There is no way they would teach you how people behave themselves in the U.S. and why they are always friendly in university, you have to go the country by yourself and figure it out. ONLY then you will be able to understand life in another country.

If you have an opportunity to go to the U.S. and spend your summer working with amazing people somewhere in this great country – TAKE IT. It is worth more than anything else – experiencing another country and learning new every day. Don’t stress out about your language skills – I know some students that are here right now, who were not very confident speaking when they came here. In only two months their skill rocketed to the place when they can have a conversation with their coworkers and understand fluent English. And this is my second point – the purpose of learning a language is not to write tests or essays – it is being able to talk to other people and understand them. There is not as much attention given to speaking while learning a language in high school or in university and this program gives you a chance to fill this gap.

The entire experience really means a lot to me, as it gave me an opportunity to do something that I really love – make movies. My hope for the future is that after this program I will be able to fulfill my ultimate dream – be able to share my ideas, my country and my life with other people via making videos. This summer got me really close to the point when I am able to do that, and I can’t wait to see where I can go with it.

Watch Nick's video about his trip to Washington DC here:


Summer in the City: Sorin's Journey in Photographs

By Sorin Dobroiu, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant from Romania.

Sorin 1

My name is Sorin, and I am from Romania. I am living this summer in Boston and working at the Boston Harbor Hotel. Here are some photographs of my time in the United States.

Sorin 1.5

This photo I was taking while I was discovering the city in my first days of American experience, and it’s just across from the Boston Harbor Hotel, where I am working. I was trying to find a place to relax. I chose to share this photo because we all try to post photos doing different activities, in the middle of the cities. This is while I was doing nothing, just watching the view and relaxing my mind, because at the end of the day, we all need peace in mind and soul.

Sorin 6

Here is a photo of my Zen place during the day. Me, my memories and my thoughts! About living in Boston, I can’t say something specific, but I can say something about the entire experience that a student can have while working and traveling in the USA, which is that beautiful things aren’t measured according to the place you are in. If you are positive and look forward to meeting new people and enjoy walking around, going out and so on, even just sitting somewhere and watching people doing stuff, it will make you feel good.

Sorin 3.5

Boston seen under an umbrella’s perspective. It doesn’t’ matter if it’s sunny or rainy, we move on!

Sorin 5

I am a server at Boston Harbor Hotel, and my favorite part of the day is interacting with a diversity of cultures, starting with the people working at the hotel, also guests, managers and CEOs. The most challenging times are the moments when I have to keep my calm and handle many tables all at once. I am working to take care properly of every single person and giving the 5-star service.

Sorin 3

I believe that the most surprising aspect is that I learned that I can be a way more hard working person than I thought I could be. The entire working environment showed me that I have to be more responsible, and I am extremely happy that now I apply this responsibility to everything I do. I now expect 150% from the activity I am involved in…the best! The time in the U.S. will help me in the future with the goals of becoming a better, dedicated person, and expecting more from myself day by day.

Friendliness and Natural Beauty in North Carolina

by Daria Romanovskaia, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant

595550db396b0-6D3D3B9D-8B61-440A-85EB-A38101C629E9This photo was taken on the top of Crowders Mountain, which is situated in Crowders Mountain State Park near Charlotte, North Carolina, where I am working as a lifeguard. It was one of my days off, which I spent with my coworker, a friend from Russia whom I met during my Work & Travel experience this summer. We went with an American family we got acquainted with at work. The family consists of a mother and her two sons, they are really lovely friendly and funny, we became close friends and I feel really cool about making friends with them.

The best part awaited us at the top of the cliff...you go down the mountain a different person.

We spent half of the day at the State Park and it was a beautiful time, because we had luck with the weather. It wasn't as hot as it usually is, so it was perfect timing for hiking. And by the way hiking was an awesome workout! It took about an hour going up the cliff and the road itself was great because we were getting to know about the nature and wild life of USA. The best part awaited us at the top of the cliff. The moment you reach a rocky pass up you overlook a breathtaking view of the green lake of a forest opens to your eyes. You feel young, independent and free. It's really hard to describe what is going on inside. I think that you'll see my point here. It's the kind of feeling when a mysterious change to all your thoughts and decisions happens inside and you go down the mountain a different person.

As for my job in North Carolina I do like it. I'm really happy that I chose this state and this job. Initially when you don't know what to expect from an upcoming program it's really scary. From my point of view it's hit or miss: either you're having the time of your life or you don't enjoy every single day, when you feel out of place. I am so excited that I have the first outcome and I enjoy every minute spend in America.

I think that the best part about my working experience is having lots of communication with native speakers and getting to know the culture from inside. When you're surrounded by the culture you dive into it and it's awesome, I can tell, because you find out such peculiarities you have no chance of perceiving sitting at home. I think the thing that surprised me most about American culture is how open-minded and talkative Americans are. I mean on my first day it was so weird when a complete stranger came up to me in a shop and starts telling me about his life. I really like it because it makes you feel warm from inside and you get a feeling like you're at home, I love it.

When you're surrounded by the culture you dive into it and it's awesome, because you find out such peculiarities you have no chance of perceiving sitting at home.

I'd like to tell that I proved to myself that I'm much more strong and steadfast than I thought me to be. I made lots of new friends and I am having a colossal experience. Now I feel like I don't have any boundaries, I have a life to live and I should make my life experience great and unforgettable so that when I'm old and grey and surrounded by my grandchildren I can retell them the story of my life, impress them and prompt to live their life with understanding that they have unlimited opportunities to grow and develop.

Working in the USA is such a great experience, it's one that worth a lifetime. You are alone in different country with another mentality. Nobody speaks your native language and I want to say that it's worthwhile. You're getting to know yourself, test your endurance and toughness and it's really rewarding because now I want to develop even more, to find a place in life for myself. Having an American experience gives you focus, sets a standard so you know in what direction to work. I'm really thankful for my parents that they give me such an opportunity because I think it pretty much defines upon my future life. I'll do my best to achieve everything I have on my mind.


Highlights from the Great Outdoors Photo Contest: Hanna's Story

This summer we are asking CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to share their stories with us through a series of photo contest on Social Media. We have been so impressed by the submissions! Here, Hanna Reyes, a participant from the Philippines, shares the story behind her wonderful photo.

This is a photo of me and my friends Jashmine, Kathlyn, Avery, and Rain. We knew each other back in the Philippines because we have the same program, Hotel and Restaurant Management, in De La Salle University. Jashmine is a tourism student in the same university with us, and we met her here in the United States! 

For me the best thing about working in Yellowstone National Park is when we have our days off and we travel to different villages to see the scenic views located inside the park, for free! As park employees we can catch shuttles, though we need to wait for half an hour or longer yet it is really worth the wait. Just like what they say, patience is a virtue! Because of the shuttle we met many different nationalities, Americans, Koreans, Taiwanese, and get to be friends with them. Especially some Americans who travel from different states, and some park employees. 

Based from what I have observed here inside the park, the Americans are really approachable and kind. They always greet each other as their eyes meet and say hi or hello, good morning, and how are you every time.

As a Filipino, we are family-oriented where we live with our parents or relatives and we always ask for permission when we go out with our friends. As I live here I learned that it is possible for me to live on my own in a different culture and different environment where I can possibly call myself an independent woman. I can be responsible and I was able to communicate, mingle, and respect the people from around the world. 

I think my stay here in the United States on the Work and Travel USA program will help me in the near future to be employed easily. Because the experience here has a great impact on my interpersonal skills.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our local agency United Towers Philippines, the host company Xanterra for this great experience working here in the U.S. And also our sponsor, CIEE. Thank you so much! 

Jamal's Summer at Camp: Part 2

Last summer Jamal Richardson, a student from St. Mary’s University in the UK, traveled to Pennsylvania to work as a camp counselor. We asked him to reflect on his experience at camp, and will be featuring several posts. See Part 1 here.

Describe some of your daily activities at camp.

The activities at camp vary quite a bit, mostly outdoorsy, having waterfront  activities such as  a banana boat, kayaks, canoes, rowboats, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, baseball, judo and a wide range of sports! As a Counsellor, you really engage in these activities as you do it with the kids. The moment they see you do it, they want to join in too!


The days usually have a very early start and a late finish, with all these activities being done, you’re so tired by the end of it but it is so fulfilling at the same time! As waterfront staff, or specialist staff, you are in charge of making these activities fun for the kids

What were some of your best memories from your time in the United States?

There was a boy who was so home sick – we worked hard to make him feel better, I taught him to swim, he went on banana boat rides, and his parents were so surprised how much he had changed in the 3 weeks! Then at the end they tell you they are excited to see you again next year, and that you have to come back and be with them again. Non-negotiable!


Also don’t forget! Once camp is over, the traveling kicks in! You get to travel America which will be your best holiday ever, you go around places with the friends you’ve made in America and make some unforgettable memories. In my case, I visited New York City, Washington D.C, and then did a roundtrip all the way down to south Carolina, and  made  my  way  back  up  again  through Tennessee!