Questions/Comments?Contact Us

11 posts categorized "Internship USA"

Changing professional perspectives: Carolin's year as an intern

By Carolin Richly, CIEE Internship USA participant 2015-2016

Carolin 1
Hi there. My name is Carolin, and I would like to share with you what I’ve experienced during my internship in the U.S and how I came to be an intern at one of the global leaders in water microbiology.

First, I would like to introduce myself. I am originally from Germany and grew up in a small town in Bavaria, which is located in the southern part of Germany. I studied at Julius-Maximilians-University of Wuerzburg, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology/microbiology in August 2015.

From there, it didn’t take me long to come across IDEXX, my American host company. I first did an internship in a microbiology laboratory at a company in Munich called “Stadtwerke Munich”, which turned out to be a customer of IDEXX. It was through a series of connections, and collaborating with the study abroad and intercultural exchange organization, CIEE, that I found myself working at IDEXX’s headquarters. Due to my experience in the microbiology field and connections to the Water business, IDEXX offered me a temporary position in the Water R&D department for five months, starting in October 2015. This company mainly focuses on veterinary diagnostics for companion animals, livestock, poultry, dairy, and drinking water quality. Its headquarters are located in Maine, the most northeastern state of the US, with various locations spread all over the globe in nearly all parts of the world. Unlike many other interns at this company, I was the only one coming from abroad.

Carolin 2
What I accomplished as a result of the J-1 visa program

At IDEXX, I worked on projects that allowed me to be creative and to work independently. Mainly, I was tasked with the development of new and innovative IDEXX Water Testing Products by finding technical solutions, creating new experiments, analyzing scientific data, and using proper scientific documentation. Within this internship, I was able to apply and intensify my scientific knowledge and develop new technical skills. What I enjoyed most was experiencing how research works in a business environment. Unimaginably, this whole internship had already entirely grown on me after 3 months. I strangely felt like I belonged, and like I was home. Therefore, I decided to extend my internship from what was initially five months up to eleven months, since exchange students on a J1-visa like me may stay up to one entire year in the United States.

Carolin 3
Types of meaningful cultural experiences I had while working in the United States

All in all, it wasn’t just professional knowledge and practical laboratory experience I gained; my internship went much further. Staying over the summer in Maine allowed me to participate in many activities offered by my host company, like summer parties, lobster bakes, scavenger hunts and American sport games. Meeting and connecting with other interns and getting to know many of my fellow coworkers was such a valuable experience. I made lots of good friends, who even invited me to their family dinners, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations.

Carolin Grand Canyon
While in the US, I did a lot of traveling. I explored many places along the East Coast, like Boston and New York City, and parts of the West Coast, too. If you ask me, there’s no place more beautiful in the U.S. than Maine. It’s not really about the place; it’s more about the people you spend your time with. I even bet that not many people are aware of Maine, a place I only got to know accidentally. What I like most about Maine is the fact that everyone I met was American, which usually happens rarely when going abroad. There’s no better place to get involved with the American culture than Maine.

Carolin and Rachel
During my stay in the US, I even got to participate in an Intern Leadership program funded mainly by CIEE and other sponsors like the U.S. Department of State. It was one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had. This workshop is called “ILEAD”, an “Intern Leadership and Development” program, in which fifty participants from more than twenty different countries were invited to the U.S. capital for five days. In this workshop, we were challenged to collaborate and brainstorm about diverse topics and problems. It is unbelievable how people coming from different backgrounds and cultures with diverse perspectives are able to work together in a team and create innovative concepts.

ILEAD Washington DC
Why I decided to come to the United States for an internship and how my experiences in the United States shaped and changed my opinion of America

To be honest, I didn’t really plan on doing an internship in the U.S.; it just happened. All I knew was that I wanted to take some time off from my studies. It could have been any country in the world, however, it happened to be the United States.

Retrospectively, staying in Maine was the best decision I could have made. People in Maine were friendly, open-minded, and welcoming. Although I cannot speak about Americans in general, since I have learned that every single state has its own cultures and traditions, based on my experiences, the U.S. truly is a great place to live. It is amazing how fast you can fall in love with a new place and call it your second home. My favorite part of the United States is the people and their mindset. I especially like their optimism and their generally positive attitude. Even though I came all the way over to the U.S. without knowing anyone, I haven’t felt lonely for one single moment. My working group and all the friends I made in Maine were a perfect temporary replacement for my family back in Germany. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy living in Germany and I would never leave my home country for good, but the U.S. is a lovely place to live, too.

Carolin 4
The impact my experience had on my life now that I’m back home

After my internship, I moved back to Germany to continue my studies. I am currently doing my Master’s in Biology and I just started another Master’s program in Management. This, I would have never thought of before coming to the U.S. My former American supervisor encouraged me to look into new domains and, especially, to think outside the box. The experiences I gained in the United States changed my professional perspectives quite a lot. Who can say that he/she spent almost one entire year living and working in a foreign country all by him-/herself?

Wrapping up

I will never forget the great time I had in the U.S. and the amazing people I met. It was an unforgettable year for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I am very grateful that I had such an outstanding opportunity. I know, some people might say you lose one year, but actually it is worth much more than anything else. It is an experience that shapes you and your future, personally and professionally.

Carolin 6

From exchange participant to host: our interview with Suzanna Jemsby

After hearing from CIEE Internship USA participant Soroth San, we wanted to learn about hosting a J-1 intern from the perspective of his school, The Galloway School in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Click here for Part I and Part II of Soroth's story. 

Please introduce yourself.

Suzanna Jemsby: I am Suzanna Jemsby, Head of School at the Galloway School in Atlanta, Gerogia. I’ve been in my role for six years. Interestingly enough, I moved to the United States from Germany 18 years ago on a J-1 visa to work as a high school principal at the Atlanta International School through the Cordell Hull Foundation.

J-1 Intern Soroth San and Suzanna Jemsby, Head of School, The Galloway School

Was this The Galloway School’s first experience hosting a J-1 intern?

SJ: This is the first one in my time. When the request [to host Soroth] came across my desk, I think I responded because I knew J-1 and it was a no-brainer. He’s coming from a part of the world which is hard for us to access and he had a very interesting story. He was coming with knowledge of school leadership, which is also unusual. I thought he could teach us a lot, and he certainly did, and by the same token, he might be able to get something out of his experience with us. We are extremely well-resourced as a school compared to his school system, so he could go back and share some of what he learned with us.

What do you think are some of the key takeaways that Soroth will be able to bring back to his school in Cambodia?

SJ: So much of it was unthinkable in his setting. The U.S. being a highly individualistic society, and Cambodia on a very different part of the spectrum, with an emphasis on group identity and a community approach to things. I think he was blown away that teachers really get to choose much of what they want to teach and when they teach it and how to teach it and what resources they’re going to use. I think he saw the value of what we’re doing. I think he’ll go back and try and disrupt the conversation and bring more of his ideas into the conversation.

[Soroth] looked up to me as this person who could make all these things happen. He feels as if he’s less of a player. He doesn’t even know if he’s going back to be a principal or if he’s going to reassigned to something else, and that would be unthinkable here. The rights of the individual are protected so much more in the States.

The Galloway School, Atlanta, Georgia

How do you think that your school community has been impacted by having Soroth as a part of it for a semester?

SJ: Well, he’s first of all, a very kind human being. He helped people on so many fronts, and on the empathy front first of all. Not everybody is accustomed to dealing with folks who don’t speak English as their first language every day. So it was good for them to remember that piece, and that rapid-fire English with lots of idiomatic phrases isn’t going to work with him.

Soroth also brought to life a part of the world that people don’t know very well. He was involved in an elective with the head of community engagement at the school, and talked about his childhood and interactions with the Khmer Rouge. He brought history alive and brought a face to something that’s very hard for young people to comprehend.

Then of course there’s the piece that he was able to bring in from his schooling experience. Particularly with the younger kids, Soroth was able to impact in a big way. He would share some of what Cambodian kids do at their age. What do P.E. lessons look like? Do they have big fancy gyms to play in? No, they go out with their classroom teacher and perhaps kick a ball around, these kinds of things.

Soroth with a kindergarten class

Soroth mentioned in his post that he had been studying English in school for fifteen years. Coming from a developing country, there may be a sense that in order to advance, you must have a global mindset. How does The Galloway School prepare students for this increasingly globalized world, and how do you think having an international J-1 intern can help advance that?

SJ: I’m a linguist by trade, so it was my first big goal for the school when I arrived six years ago to relook at how we teach languages. I believe it’s a tool; I believe it’s a way to understanding others in the world. It’s not something you learn about in a book and tick off with an AP at the end of grade 12. I think we do kids a disservice if they’re not competent in two languages by the time they finish school. Of course, many kids are getting close to that, but there are also a lot of kids who have decided that they’re not capable of it.

When you think about learning an Asian language in particular, it’s a difficult thing to do. [Soroth] really modeled fearlessness in this respect. He wasn’t always easy to comprehend at the beginning, even for someone who, as I consider myself, a sympathetic listener for people who don’t speak English as their first language. He made tremendous strides.

Do you think your school will host additional J-1 students in the future? Do you think it was an overall positive experience for students and the staff?

SJ: I think it was a positive experience. I’m actually leaving the school at the end of this year so it’s going to be up to the next head. I will make a strong case for doing it though, Soroth was awesome.

His own mother passed away the week of his high school graduation and he missed the ceremony. So we decided to actually have him “graduate” from Galloway. We printed up a certificate, gave him a cap and gown and he walked right through the entire faculty and everybody went crazy. I know he was very taken by this. I know he touched every single person on my faculty and staff in some way, shape, or form.

We had him spend time with every grade at the school so he started with the three-year-olds and we had him advance through the school and he finished with grade twelve. So he went through like a student, although in a condensed time. He went on field trips with the three-year-olds, he did spelling with the sixth graders, he talked about the Khmer Rouge with the seventh graders, shadowed a tenth grader, so he did a bit of everything. I remember saying to him “be everywhere! I want you to make the most of this opportunity.”

Overall it’s been really interesting and I hope the school continues. We all just wanted [Soroth] to have the happiest memories of Galloway and I think he will, there’s no doubt in my mind.

Soroth with students, The Galloway School

"Learn how to learn": Soroth's semester at The Galloway School

By Soroth San, CIEE Internship USA participant, 2017-2018.

See here for Part I of Soroth's story, and come back on Thursday for an interview with Suzanna Jemsby, Head of School of The Galloway School

This year I am an intern at The Galloway School in Atlanta, Georgia, but at home in Cambodia, I was working as a head of school at the capital city of the country. There, the challenges are different: I was encountering a ton of problems with discipline, assessing teachers and non-teaching staff, supporting staff professional skills, and creating a less stressed, collaborative, and friendly environment. I am excited to have an opportunity to look at other parts of the developed world which have gone through and successfully implemented educational philosophies that form an effective and efficient education system that enhances student’ learning and teachers’ skills. The main goal of my internship program is to be able to run a school in an appropriate way by the time I return to Cambodia.

Soroth San cooking
Soroth San

On the first page of my internship objective I was curious to know about the management team. At The Galloway School, I find that the principals for all the programs are independent and flexible. They always install a supportive and friendly environment when giving the commendations as well as recommendations for improvement. As I have noticed, they usually smile and talk openly, share, discuss and pass information on in a respectful and fun manner. As a result, many problems are quickly fixed. I sense lots of pros in regard to these special working attitudes. In this regard, I want to develop my skills and will take back those working practices to Cambodia and implement them among my staff. 

The school philosophy is the upmost guide that shapes the behavior in the working, teaching and learning environment in the school. To illustrate, The Galloway School has its unique philosophy, which is to promote individuality “Figure out who you are and become that person”, “Learn how to learn”, and “The ultimate goal is to help kids become a successful and enlightened individual”. I really love these quotes; they mean so much to me as a school leader. Having said that, I am passionate and committed to fostering these impactful concepts in my school.

Preschool students and their teacher, Gissella Diaz-Williamson

One thing that I really find fascinating is that teachers at Galloway set up their own curriculum. They can decide the content of curriculum as long as it advances the goal of improving kids’ education. Then, at some point at the beginning of school year, all teachers at each grade present an overview of the curriculum to the parents, so they will have some ideas as to what is going on within a whole year. Teachers are well-trained about 4D classroom, which is a deliberate, daring, dynamic and discovery leaning and teaching environment. I had never heard of 4D before, and it was always a question for me. Prior to my training about 4D, I would think of 3D or 4D movies. I kept asking myself “What are they going to do with 4D movies in education “, which sounds ridiculous. Only when I had been trained about it, I realized that it is a new methodology of teaching and learning in a very effective way.

Pre-K Curriculum overview meeting

I tell myself that I am on the right journey of discovering what I really need to improve education quality in my country. For sure, I have to bring back this critical concept for educators in Cambodia.

Some other areas about The Galloway School that I want to bring back to Cambodia is the role of the school librarian. At Galloway, this is not merely the only person to look after the tiny space, but also acts as a teacher librarian that helps in teaching kids and provokes curiosity and love in reading to kids. I also see the effectiveness of the advisory group model, in which there are some advisees and one advisor (4 years in a roll) whose basic role is to motivate, advise, monitor and follow up students’ learning. The idea of supporting teachers is also noted and essential. There are financial limitations at my school in Cambodia so I don’t know what I can achieve, but I will try.

Another lesson I have learned is the importance of parent education. At The Galloway School, there is close interaction between parents and the school, and parents always want to participate in school events and volunteer a lot to help with school work. They even organize events like parties for parents, book club, and teacher appreciation where teachers are made to feel loved and appreciated. Parents might have some points during the day sitting at a dining room or a table discussing the book that kids have learned in class. Or they might have problem regarding technology, kids might go to ask parents. Nevertheless, I don’t think it will work in Cambodian parents. The culture of education is different, and parents are so busy, and often less educated than their children. I hope that in the future, Cambodian society shifts so that parents can be more involved in their kids’ education.


A meeting for parents at The Galloway School

The Galloway School is not only a school but also a family, and a community for many people who feel a sense of love, respect, care and progress for life. I think I will gradually put some good ideas from this school into use in my school in Cambodia. To sum up, I have learned so many things about my host organization. Meantime, I have to give myself a chance to process all of the information and use it in the real world in order for me to tailor my professional skills as well as experiences in enhancing education quality in my home country.


The J-1 internship that launched my career: Peter's story

By Peter Sima, 2014 CIEE Internship alumnus

Hello everyone! My name is Peter Sima, and I come from the beautiful country of Slovakia. This small country is located in the very center of Europe, we speak Slovak and pay with Euros. Ever since I was little, I have always been fascinated by US culture, its natural beauty and, of course, heroic blockbuster movies. A few years later, when I was about to graduate from the University of Economics in Bratislava with a degree in International Management, I got an opportunity to sign up for a year-long professional internship program in the U.S. through the Slovak-American foundation and CIEE. I made it through competitive selection process and landed a placement in the online marketing department of one of the world’s leading antivirus companies – ESET. I could not be happier when I got a final confirmation. Or wait, maybe I could – the moment I found out that ESET North America is based out of sunny San Diego!

PS photo
Peter Sima, CIEE alumnus and Non Profit Marketing Consultant

American business culture is certainly different from what I was used to in Slovakia. My feeling is that it is, in a sense, more aggressive and more competitive yet also friendlier and more collaborative. I know, it is hard to connect those two worlds together, but what I mean is that US business professionals are very much focused on their career development and the development of their business, working hard utilizing every opportunity that comes by. At the same time they are also laid back, friendly, open and cooperative in relationships with their subordinates or business partners. They make sure people on all levels of corporate hierarchy are competent, motivated and reward for their contribution to overall business success. This was the first impression I had when I started my internship and I pretty much still share the same opinion.

There are a number of things I have learned during my stay in the US. I intentionally did not say “during my internship stay” simply because I think the whole cultural experience outside of work has changed me a lot as well. From professional side I was able to acquire and/or improve my campaign planning, management, web analytics and website optimization skills. Additionally, ESET gave me the opportunity to participate on number of industry-leading conferences and even financed one semester of marketing studies at University of California San Diego.

Besides the improvement of my hard skills and professional qualification I feel that I got much better in number of soft skills as well. I have significantly improved my business English, networking capabilities and, what I consider the most important, also got better in understanding of American business environment. I have learned to think at scale and got the business drive essential for every start-up entrepreneur. Last but not least I have met many outstanding professionals and very friendly people at the same time, who have helped establish myself while in San Diego and continue helping me now in my business with U.S.-based organizations. 

Exploring Google's Silicon Valley campus

During my internship in San Diego, besides managing online marketing campaigns for ESET, I had the opportunity to work with an amazing non-profit organization called Securing Our eCity (SOeC) Foundation. This organization primarily focuses on educating teenagers and senior citizens on the topic of online security. They asked me to help them out with setup and management of Google Ad Grant campaigns, text ads that appear in Google search results. This organization and many other US-based non-profit organizations were at that time receiving free advertising credit worth $10.000/month to showcase their cause online – and I did not even know such a thing existed. 

Soon after I started working on SOeC’s campaigns we were utilizing the entire grant, driving thousands of new website visits and hundreds of subscriptions to webinars and other educational events. When I saw the potential of Ad Grants program for this non-profit organization I started digging deeper. I found out that almost all non- profit organizations are eligible to participate (schools, hospitals and state-run organization are exceptions) and what was even better, Google just opened the program for additional 50+ countries.  

Peter at the ESET office in San Diego

When talking to other organizations I found out that this program is not well recognized and even those, who use it, find it often difficult to use it to larger extent. At this point I got the idea to set up my own consulting business focused on helping non-profits implement and meaningfully use the Ad Grant from Google. I decided to name my business AboveX Digital and created its website. Up until now I have worked with dozens of U.S. as well as European non-profit organizations and managed to get the agency to Google Partner program. None of this would have been possible neither without my internship experience nor without very supportive team at ESET and Securing Our eCity Foundation.   

Just like last few years, I expect 2018 to be quite a busy year. Professionally, I would like to focus on developing the online presence of my agency, create more helpful content and expand our service offering. This will not be possible without hiring new people. I would also like to deepen my cooperation with Google, speak on their events and become sort of an ambassador of Ad Grants program. Lastly I would like to continue delivering high added value to non-profits of all kinds, helping them do even more good in this world, because ultimately, enabling them to fulfill their mission is the most rewarding part of my job. Outside of my job I would like to explore few more countries (South America is up next on my list), attend more conferences and networking events and, when I have some time left, start pursuing MBA degree. 

Peter at a San Diego Chargers game

From Rural Cambodia to Atlanta: Soroth's Year at School

By Soroth San, CIEE Internship USA 2017-2018 Participant

I was born and grew up in a poor village in Cambodia. I moved to the capital city, Phnom Penh, and became a student at the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL), majoring in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I was working as Head of School in Cambodia at an elementary school, encountering a ton of challenges including discipline issues, quality of education, interactions with students’ parents. I was eager for an opportunity to look at other parts of the developed world which has gone through and achieved in implementing successful education philosophies.

There are many strong motives driving me to choose the U.S.A. to be my new world and to broaden my horizon through an internship with the Galloway School in Atlanta, Georgia. First and foremost, I have always had a question in my mind about why the U.S. is a powerful country. I think of the education system and society because I hold the strong belief that a vast majority of people’s successes are the result of education. Despite the fact that I have studied English for 15 years, I felt that I needed to improve my English in an English-speaking environment. I love to be around native speakers, and I hope to enormously master my English speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Soroth 1
The U.S. is also the country of the Sharing Foundation, the organization that sponsored me to study through high school and college. I have known some people there for a long time and turned to them for help and motivation, and felt the U.S. was a home to me even before I came here. I now have a chance to present myself to my generous long-term sponsor and meet donors and board members.

I am so blessed that I have a scholarship to come to America to look at the whole picture of a school. My internship at the Galloway School is in educational administration. I spend my time observing, shadowing, and simple interviewing all the departments of Galloway, including classroom programs as well as administration such as communications, development, and admissions. I write weekly newsletters on what I have learned in comparison to my school in Cambodia.

I like almost everything in my internship, and the critical elements tapping to my heart are meeting and learning from new people. I have one-one-one and sometimes group meetings with teachers, administrative staff, school principals and others to study about their job and roles within the school system. How do they perform their work effectively and efficiently? What do they do on a daily basis?

Soroth 3
I have to talk to people in English, which I find very challenging. English. On my first day at Galloway, I was in a very big group and people were talking about something fun like a joke, and everybody was laughing happily while I felt overwhelmed and wondered why they laughed. I was struggling to understand and learned to get used to the language, accent, and intonation. I find myself improving a lot in that area, which means I am somehow acquiring the language, and I am so blissful for what I have mastered in English.

Weather is also one of the biggest challenges ever because I am originally from a hot climate. I find it very hard to adapt to cold weather. I need to wear many more layers than the local people. To me, 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is cold, but not for the locals, which is hilarious!

Soroth 3
After four months living in the U.S., I have found myself evolving remarkably. I have gradually acquired the taste of food, the accent and nature of language, views on culture, ways of living, eating and communicating. I have built up lots of assertiveness and confidence to express myself in front of big groups of people. I have opened up myself to the world of freedom and human rights. I have learned to be open-minded about the world and accepted things that are different. All things considered, I am able to see the world bigger and more clearly.

Being a Part of the News in Washington D.C.

By Eline de Zeeuw, CIEE Internship USA participant

My name is Eline de Zeeuw, I am 24 years old and a student from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. As of this January I am a proud (temporary) resident of Washington D.C, where I am doing an internship with NOS Dutch TV & Radio. NOS is the leading news organization in the Netherlands.

Up to now my experiences here have been kind of surreal: I am living in the capital of America – where all the news seems to happen these days – and I am working with journalists who I consider the crème de la crème in their expertise.

One of my main jobs here is to come up with ideas for stories and produce items for our daily news shows. Besides that, I had the chance to write a lot of articles for our website. Even though I have lived in the United States before – I studied in upstate New York in 2013 and traveled around the country – working at NOS gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people and I got to help cover historical events.

My experiences here have been kind of surreal: I am living in the capital of America – where all the news seems to happen these days – and I am working with journalists who I consider the crème de la crème in their expertise.

For example, I covered Inauguration Day for NOS News’ Snapchat. The next day, I experienced the insane masses at the Women’s March myself. I also wrote a story about a barber from Iraq whose family was affected by the recent executive orders on immigration. My work in these past few months has touched on some of the most high-profile news stories in the country, and I feel lucky to be witnessing history first hand.

Opioid Crisis
One of the most eye-opening stories I got to write at NOS was about the opioid crisis in the United States.

Carin, a mother of 4, welcomed us into her house in Frederick County, Maryland to speak about the situation she and her family were caught in. Both her husband and her son became addicted to painkillers and heroin. Both her husband and son are doing relatively okay now, but the county she’s living in is suffering. In one week she lost three people she knew to heroin.

Every American seems to have a bigger plan for their future. Even if they are homeless, they don’t give up.

I was really impressed by the way Carin told us her story. As she was sitting at her kitchen table, speaking so openly and honestly about it, the only thing I could hope for was that writing her story down would at least help create awareness for this problem.

The article I eventually wrote was featured on the NOS website as ‘recommended by our editors’. Carin even got back in touch with us and said that she had received many positive messages from people in the Netherlands. That made me quite proud. It sure was one of the most memorable moments of my internship to me.

The Clichés are Real

I will only stay in DC for one more month, and then I’ll be heading back home. The experience has been real. I won’t deny it, the clichés are true: living in another country and meeting people from other cultures and nationalities really broadens your perspective. In addition, even though living in America has been a dream come true, being away from your family, friends and home country gives you a new perspective.

I feel very lucky as a Dutch person that I have access to health care and that we have a federal safety net to fall back on when we lose our job, and that basically everyone has access to affordable high quality education. Oh and I have to mention… how I’ve missed a Dutch sandwich with some good cheese (come on Americans, what you sell in the store for cheese is far from the real deal)!

But there’s a lot of lessons to take home too. Even though the problems of wealth disparity and social inequality are evident in America, I feel like there’s a vibe we sometimes miss in the Netherlands: one of hope and belief. Every American seems to have a bigger plan for their future. Even if they are homeless, they don’t give up.

I talked to a homeless person for example, who assured me that one day he would have a house again and is going to start a coffee bar. And an Uber driver in D.C. is never ‘only’ driving an Uber, it’s a man or woman making the money they need to chase their dreams. I met one guy who is trying to get into a prestigious college but he doesn’t have the money to pay the tuition, so he drives at night. And I met an Ethiopian man that wants to bring his family to the States, so he takes extra shifts on the weekend in addition to his job at a law firm.

All these encounters have inspired me to follow my own dreams and to work hard to achieve them. Please go chase yours!


Expanding Horizons in New York City

By Laima Eglite, Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Intern

When I arrived at the beginning of my program, it was my first time in the United States. and from the minute I landed in JFK airport still everyday something surprising and new appears in American culture. The biggest difference from my home in Latvia was the size of everything. Buildings, cars and scale of everything that Americans do.

My first month here I visited MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to attend a Coldplay concert. I had never seen such an enormous complex built mainly for sport events. Also its not correct to compare to my home country because the population here is different by tens of millions of people.

I found that in America everybody I met was super friendly and open. People tend to give compliments on streets or on trains just to express their opinion. It’s much easier here to start conversations with strangers and find new fantastic addition to your friend group.

Laima 2
In front of the Brooklyn Bridge

I have been in the United States for four months now, and I can truly say that I have become more open minded and accepting of different nationalities and their cultural background. I didn’t always have this before because my home country is not very diverse, I would guess only 5-8 nationalities living there. Here in U.S. it’s the opposite, especially New York. There are so many communities and international people. It’s always a big honor to meet new people and listen to their story about how they ended up in U.S. and what life they have now. I really hope that my story will inspire other young people to try this program.

I had several reasons for coming to the U.S. Mostly it’s in my character: I’m a person who cannot sit in place for long, and I love challenging myself. I love living out of my comfort zone and this feeling keeps me going. Since I was a little kid I have always wanted to spend time in the U.S., especially to New York, and try my luck here. The rest is history and I can truly say that every single day I have to pinch myself to believe that I’m really living my dream now. And I can only say that I love it and enjoy it very very much.

Laima 3
On the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I feel very lucky to be working in my field, clothing manufacturing and fashion industry management. People I meet at my work are remarkably inspiring. I see how hard they work and how much they sacrifice to succeed. This feeling and the environment pushes me every day to be better person and never give up on my own dreams.

My main goal when I come back is to inspire people, mostly young professionals. So many young people are scared to try this opportunity, to step out of their usual work/study schedule. I want to be an ambassador and give public speeches at universities and schools sharing my experience and the intellectual growth of my journey in the United States.

What I would say to other students in my home country is, just apply! This experience will change your life for the better.

Laima 4
On one of my trips outside the city

When a Dream Comes True in the Green State of California

By Safia Dworjack, CIEE Intern

When I learned that I had landed the position to work on an environmental program for the City of San José in California, it was a dream come true.

California is a very appealing state with its beaches and its year-round sunshine. It is also, for an environmentalist like me, the state where innovation and challenges make your everyday job exciting. In the heart of the Silicon Valley, I had the opportunity to attend many conferences and workshops to build my skills and knowledge in the environmental field. I took the opportunity to speak to a conference, This Way to Sustainability, at Chico State University, to present the program I was working on.

Safia 1

With the cohort of young American graduate students in Sustainability

For my job, I engaged local businesses in an energy efficiency program, Step Up and Power Down, to help them reduce their energy consumption. Being so close to the local community and building trust relationships in a culture and a language which were not mine was very rewarding.

I had the chance to work with an awesome young woman 8 hours a day who gave me a deep dive in the American and Vietnamese culture. Thirty percent of the population in San José in Vietnamese, the biggest in the US!

Safia 3

Ready to go out into the field and engage businesses with my colleagues

I was also able to take part in a graduate program in sustainability. There, I was able to meet 30 American students who shared my passion, and also allowed me to discover the challenges and hopes of my generation in this leading country of the United States.

Safia 2
With the Energy Champions for the behavior change campaign I led at City Hall

Finally, I had the honor to be selected for the CIEE I-LEAD program in DC, a 6-day workshop with 58 other J-1 interns from 30 different countries. Through workshops and activities, I was pleased to discover many kind-hearted young people which galvanized me in continuing my work to make a difference in my country.

Back in France, I am proud I did that experience as it made me grow as a person, and gave me professional experience that I already see is making a difference on the job market. If you have any hesitations or legitimate fears to live this experience, I would say go for it as it will be an amazing experience that will make you stronger on so many levels!

Event Recap: Happy Hour on the Hill

This post originally appeared on the CIEE Alumni Blog.

On February 9, the CIEE Alumni Washington, D.C. Chapter and CIEE J-1 Professional Exchange Programs co-hosted a happy hour on Capitol Hill to bring together alumni of all CIEE programs and current participants of the CIEE Internship USA and Professional Career Training USA programs for a night of networking. Over 40 alumni and interns, including many participants of the Australian Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Programme (UCWIP), gathered at Capitol Lounge to exchange stories of their travels and talk about international politics. Some CIEE alumni were able to identify and speak to Australian interns who were working at their home state's congressional representative's office on Capitol Hill - a unique opportunity to hear different perspectives on local politics. Here's what some of our attendees had to say about the event:

"It was really interesting to meet the J-1 Interns and hear their perspectives on the government offices where they work. As outsiders to our political system, they talked about their internship locations in a more objective way than Americans who work on the Hill, without all of the usual partisanship and personal feeling that comes from having a personal stake in the process. I’m sure they’ll go back to their home countries with a more nuanced understanding of U.S. politics than what makes it into the news. " - Jackson Morawski, chapter member (CIEE Study Abroad Tokyo, Japan, 2014)

"Over drinks and Capitol Lounge’s famous wings, we shared our experiences of working and traveling outside our home countries. It was a great chance to meet fellow internationally-minded young people, share travel stories, and hear about their experiences in Washington, D.C. during this politically interesting period in the United States. As with many CIEE events, never a dull moment in a room full of well-traveled, energetic, and curious people. Hopefully the first of many shared events with UCWIP." - Mariah Deters, CIEE Alumni Washington, D.C. Chapter President (CIEE Study Abroad, Beijing, China, 2012) 





CIEE-HappyHour-02-09-17-52 crop




BAFF Alum Virginijus Sinkevicius Elected to Lithuanian Parliament

Former Baltic American Freedom Foundation intern, Virginijus Sinkevicius, has won a seat in the 2nd round of Lithuanian Parliament elections as MP for his personal constituency in Vilnius's Seskine district. He defeated his running mate, Audronius Azubalis, Conservative Party member and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a landslide victory. Virginijus ran as the 26th member on the list of the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Party for a seat in both Parliament and his personal constituency in Vilnius. Virginijus is the second youngest member of this newly elected Parliament and currently heads the Regulatory Affairs Team of the Project Management Department at “Invest Lithuania”.
Virginijus 1Virginijus is a graduate from Aberystwyth University, UK with a diploma in Bachelor of Economic, Social and Political Studies, as well as from Maastricht University, Holland, with a Master's in European Studies. He has also interned at the office of the Prime Minister of Lithuania in the Regional and Ethnic Issues Unit.

As a participant of the BAFF Professional Internship Program, Virginijus enjoyed his training period at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) from 2013-2014. During his year in the U.S., Virginijus became an active member of the Lithuanian-American community, and taught children at the Lithuanian Saturday School in Washington, D.C. He writes, “I am thankful to BAFF for the unique opportunity provided. I had an extremely positive experience in the United States capital Washington DC, which taught me exceptional lessons, boosted my self-confidence, and encouraged me to reach the highest goals in life. I am grateful that the people of Lithuania evaluated my experience and gave me a chance to serve them.”

During his time in the U.S. Virginijus was a frequent contributor to the BAFF blog, which you can read here. Congratulations, Virginijus!
Virginijus 2
Virginijus 3