Welcome to the Cultural Vistas Alumni Network

The Cultural Vistas Alumni Network encourages alumni from across our programs to connect and engage in a global community. With over 100,000 members and counting, our past program participants span the world and an impressive variety of fields.

We’re committed to fostering a robust global alumni network by providing tools, training, support, and connections to support alumni in leveraging their exchange experiences throughout their careers.

We look forward to getting to know our program alumni and supporting them as they bring positive change to their lives, organizations, and communities.

Get Involved

Join us on LinkedIn

By joining our growing LinkedIn group you’ll stay up-to-date on the latest cross-programmatic alumni events and opportunities, and have access to exclusive alumni resources including mentor matching, re-entry support, and more.

Share your story

Our alumni have fascinating stories of how their lives and careers have grown and evolved since their international experience.Telling these stories helps others see new possibilities and supports our advocacy efforts on behalf of cultural exchange. If you have an accomplishment you’d like to share, fill out this Alumni Spotlight Q&A.

Host or attend a gathering in your city

We have thousands of alumni all over the world. Many arrange regional get-togethers to connect with our network. Potential events include:

  • Networking happy hour
  • Cultural outing
  • Informal language practice
  • Picnic or BBQ
  • Panel discussion

Or, just join us at an event near you!

Spread the word

Prospective participants love hearing from alumni who have experienced our programs for themselves. Every year we rely on alumni to extend our reach and support our recruitment efforts by representing us at fairs and conferences, for instance, across the U.S. and abroad.

Lend your expertise

Whether it’s taking part in a panel discussion, offering insights into your industry and lessons learned, or sharing strategies for career enhancement, new as well as mature alumni can benefit from your experiences.

Join program-specific networking groups

Want to also stay connected with past and present alumni of your specific program? Here are additional resources to help you.


Cultural Vistas Alumni News + Stories


Meet Our Alumni

At all levels of government, business, and the nonprofit sector, you will find individuals like these whose career paths were radically altered by their exchange experience. Here are just a few of our alumni’s stories:

Bosch Alumnus Influences U.S.-German Relationship as White House Chief of Staff

Denis McDonough, our most prominent Bosch Fellow, currently serves as White House Chief of Staff and is sometimes credited with influencing the positive relationship between President Barack Obama and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the NSA crisis, which had a deleterious impact on German-American relations, President Obama dispatched McDonough to smooth things over with the German government—this even though chiefs of staff are rarely sent overseas. Prior to his Bosch Fellowship, McDonough had worked on the Hill specializing in Latin American foreign policy. Though he had little to no ties to Europe at the time, he recognized that this knowledge would be important to his career. How right this turned out to be.

And though McDonough is often mentioned as a notable Bosch Fellow, his wife Kari Hillstrom McDonough also joined his cohort—as a Bosch Fellow in her own right. This program’s second most visible fellow is easily Sandi Peterson, Group Worldwide Chairman at Johnson & Johnson since 2012.

 

U.K. Native Co-founds Successful Start-up as a Result of his U.S. J-1 Internship Experience

Luke Beard interned in Brooklyn, NY at Elepath, a product studio, through the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Not long into his internship, Luke developed the idea for Exposure, a sleek and clean-as-a-whistle photography-based storytelling platform. In less than five months in the U.S., Luke created the Exposure platform and launched it to the public. In 2015 it became its own company. Today, Exposure is a sustainable product and business with more than 80,000 members and more than 2.1 million photos within over 50,000 published stories. Learn more at exposure.co.

 

Alfa Fellow Develops Timely Expertise on the Middle East During Program Year in Moscow

Hanna Notte, a German participant on the Alfa Fellowship Program in 2015-2016, focused her time in Moscow examining the relationship between Russia, the Middle East, and the West—a topical theme given current events in Syria. Hanna’s two work placements at the Carnegie Moscow Center and the Institute of Oriental Studies led her to publish “Russia in Chechnya and Syria: Pursuit of Strategic Goals” in Middle East Policy. Hanna presented her research—and in Russian no less—through forums hosted by both host think tanks, while studying Arabic throughout her program year. She is currently a DPhil candidate in International Relations at the University of Oxford, and she will continue her research this summer 2016 at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama, Bahrain, through the invitation of a scholar she met while an Alfa Fellow.

 

IVLP Inspires Participants to Advocate for Women’s Rights in Egypt

Sara El Shaarawy, a lawyer and university lecturer from Cairo, joined a group of eight Egyptian women and legal scholars and practitioners for an International Visitors Leadership Program study tour focused on gender equality issues. “This experience reinforced my self-confidence as an independent Egyptian woman that I can serve my country,” she said upon reflecting on her program. Sara was especially inspired by the role social organizations play in American society. Since 2012 she has used her university bully pulpit to encourage students to establish similar social organizations back home. “After this experience, I am in a better position to defend women’s rights and push for legal reform that, among other things, is mindful of empowering women.”

 

Life-changing CBYX Experience Leads Automotive Executive to Advocate on the Hill

When State Department budget cuts threatened the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program, Ian Bolin was first in line to testify on the Hill in favor of the program. He credits the cultural exchange program with shaping his career in the automotive industry. In fact, his internship at Bosch in Stuttgart led to his first job as an assistant to the president of Rolls Royce and Bentley Motor Cars. He then spent 15 years in automotive strategy, sales and marketing leadership roles for Volkswagen, Audi, and Infiniti, including multiple stints overseas. Married to a German woman, he now serves as a consultant at Egon Zehnder providing executive and board search services and leadership consulting. In fact, Ian is only one of many prominent CBYX alumni whose careers have led them to U.S. or German automotive companies.

 

Alumni Leverage International Experience to Create and Lead Successful Enterprises

Many Cultural Vistas alumni leverage their new perspectives and insights to start their own businesses, organizations, and initiatives. While this holds true for alumni from across our portfolio of programs, Columbia School of Business Professor Dan Wang, has shown that 13% of participants in Cultural Vistas’ J-1 Visa program become entrepreneurs back home. U.S. examples include Christian Chabot, Founder and CEO of Tableau Software and Clay Guillory, Founder of Titan Robotics, among others.

 

New Solutions for Agrarian Communities in Nigeria

Along with participants from 12 other African nations, Bosede Oboh, CEO of ACASC Farms in Nigeria, came to the United States for a three-week visit focused on the farm-to-table movement in 2012. This International Visitors Leadership Program project included visits to private farms, universities, and other organizations and has since led to long-lasting relationships and new opportunities. Back in Nigeria she has begun implementing solutions like farm-to-school programs and farmers markets, which she believes will help provide a better life for local agrarian communities. “The exposure I had during the program changed my thinking and opinions of America and its people,” Bosede said. “I count it as a rare privilege and great opportunity for me to change my little world by the things I have experienced in the bigger world.”

 

CBYX Experience Leads to a Career in German Diplomacy

In 2003-4, Katharina Michalczyk of Germany participated in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program. Through the program, she had the opportunity to live with a host family in New Jersey, study for a semester at a community college, and intern for a semester, all while engaging in community service. According to Katharina, one of the program’s benefits was the chance to educate those she came in contact with about Germany, while learning about the United States. She cites a common CBYX refrain, “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different!” This transformative experience then helped her decide on her career path. Since 2005, Katharina has served in the German Federal Foreign Office. She is currently at the Directorate-General for International Order, the United Nations and Arms Control, following posts at the German Embassy in Norway and India, and in the press department in Berlin. Katharina’s story is not unusual, and she is far from the only CBYX alum working in the Federal Foreign Office!


Our Values

Cultural Vistas created its alumni relations initiative using these guidelines to shape its focus and direction.

International exchange network

We create facilitated access to a network of Cultural Vistas international exchange alumni, which leads to valuable professional collaboration and career advancement.

Professional advancement

We provide alumni with tools, training, and support for leveraging their exchange experience for professional advancement throughout their careers.

Lifelong exchange experience

Through in-person and virtual encounters, we offer alumni opportunities to extend and build on their exchange experience after it has taken place.

Recognition

We celebrate and promote alumni achievements that demonstrate the professional and social-impact value of international exchange.


Stay in Touch

We want to stay in touch! Update your contact information to hear about regional events and opportunities.


Support Our Mission

Cultural Vistas warmly invites you to make a generous tax-deductible contribution. Our programs are pivot points in our participants’ lives. Your thoughtful gift will help make these transformative experiences possible for as many as 6,000 students and emerging leaders, ages 15 to 50, from 135-plus countries each year.

Make Your Donation