Cultural Vistas Blog

An Internship Hundreds of Years in the Making

When a library houses the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, including 260,000 printed books and 60,000 manuscripts dating as far back as the late 13th century, it needs a team of conservators dedicated to keeping them intact. That’s where the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Conservation Lab comes in. They’re the ones who ensure that we’re still able to enjoy books, manuscripts, and art on paper from hundreds of years ago.

Folger Library Conservation Lab J-1 Visa Intern
The Folger Conservation Lab, in Washington, D.C., is where book and paper conservators work on preserving the library’s extensive collections.

It takes many years of practice to know how to best treat a damaged manuscript or rebind a book that is literally falling apart at the seams. That’s why for Folger Shakespeare Library, and other similar institutions, interns are crucial.

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What’s It Like to Intern on Capitol Hill? We Asked Our German Fellows

Five German students recently spent six weeks interning for members of the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals’ (CBYX) Congressional Internship Program.

The students were selected from among a group of 73 CBYX Fellows from Germany currently spending a year studying, interning, and living with American hosts as part of this longstanding U.S.-German exchange program, which is joint funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Department of State.

Since 1998-99, the Congressional Internship Program has provided 85-plus CBYX Fellows the chance to learn directly about U.S. government and policy-making through this unique personal and professional experience.

We recently caught up with our five congressional interns to find out what it was like interning on the Hill in this inauguration year.

Congressman Conway CBYX Intern U.S. Capitol
Leonie and Representative Conway, from Texas’ 11th District, pose in front of the U.S. Capitol.

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Racing Toward a Career in Motorsports

Engines revving, tires screeching, fans cheering.

These are the sights and sounds that fill the air on race day at the Sebring International Raceway in south-central, Florida.  But for one of Cultural Vistas’ Train USA interns, Canadian Tiffany Lodder, racing is about more than fast cars and loud motors.  It’s about developing relationships and giving back to the community.  For Tiffany, racing is a passion on which she is building her career.

Tiffany has been a fan of motorsports since her childhood.  She recalls watching the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 with her father, an avid stock car racer who initially inspired her passion for motors and speed.

Interning at Sebring Raceway, has allowed Tiffany the opportunity to drive both her career and her charitable ambitions forward, at full speed.

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Meet the Career Host Mom

Julian Neumark, a German student, walked down the escalator into his new city of Madison, Wisconsin to see a family of unfamiliar faces. Vinny, his brother-to-be, was wearing a button down shirt tight around his neck. While Julian later learned Vinny had just gotten off work at a pharmacy, his first thought was “hopefully he’s not too weird.”

Gulfport Mississippi Family Dinner CBYX Hosting
Julian (left) with his host family in Gulfport Mississippi over Christmas break. “Rather than buy ‘stuff,’ I took the family on a trip to New Orleans, as well as a visiting Mississippi and Alabama.” – Annette

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A Look Back on the First Year of CBYX

1984, a year usually associated with the dystopian novel of the same name, was anything but dystopian for 48 American college students.

It was the year Steve Jobs rolled out the first Macintosh computer, a box-like machine that had no memory built in. Total sales for cell phones were 7,000, up from 0 in 1983. Ghostbusters, starring Bill Murray, was the top grossing film.  As a duet,  Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson topped the pop charts, as did a man from my home state of Minnesota, Prince. Ronald Reagan was reelected, and the Winter Olympics were held in Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists.

CBYX 1984 Ski Trip Germany
Drew (second from right) and fellow CBYX participants go on a holiday skiing trip.

My 47 “classmates” and I were the pilot participants in a new program, the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals.

Young and idealistic, we were wide open to what would come from the program that had chosen us, which had promised us each a year of school, work, family life, and adventure in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. The BRD, also known as West Germany.

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Alumni Spotlight: Sandra Decius, IAESTE

Sandra Decius

Exchange Experience
IAESTE Netherlands
Interned at Philips Bedrijven in Eindhoven; 1986-87

Current Profession
Press Officer and Marketing Comm. Manager, Nokia (Munich, Germany)

“Ich möchte grüne Bohnen und Salat.”

Even if you don’t speak the language, you can pretty much understand the statement above.

It’s a simple phrase for ordering a salad in a German-speaking restaurant.  For Sandra Decius, however, it was more than that.  This very first sentence that she learned in seventh grade fatefully sent her into a life-long love affair with Germany.

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Why I Didn’t Experience Culture Shock in India

Culture Shock: the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.

This is what I thought I would experience when I arrived in India for a summer internship as a Cultural Vistas Fellow. What I found instead was a culture that, shockingly, seemed familiar. Let me explain: I had never traveled to India before, but I had traveled to Mexico. To my surprise, I realized there’s a great likeness in Mexican, Mexican American, and Indian cultures. Three different cultures that are on opposite sides of the world have more in common than one would think. Here are the ways I felt at home in a “new” country.

Cultural Vistas Fellowship India Group Pic
Brenda poses with the four-member Cultural Vistas Fellowship cohort in India.

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Why These Young ASEAN Leaders Will Change the World

Sixty-five percent of Southeast Asia’s population is under the age of 35. This makes it crucial to empower the region’s youth to invest in and make changes in their communities. Enter: The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Seeds For the Future Grants Competition.

The 2017 grantees, each receiving grants ranging from $8,300 to $15,000, were selected from a competitive pool of nearly 400 applications. Their projects are as diverse as the Southeast Asian region itself, covering all 10 ASEAN members states and topics ranging from food insecurity to training special education teachers. But they share a common goal: to positively impact communities across ASEAN.

Bangkok Workshop YSEALI Seeds
Representatives from the 20 YSEALI Seeds for the Future groups gathered recently for a two-day coaching workshop in Bangkok

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My Experience With Georgia’s Unique Wine Scene

I’ve learned during my Alfa Fellowship in Russia that despite what you might think, one of the main attractions in Moscow is the food. Contrary to the stereotypes of Russian cuisine as gristly meat in a beetroot purple liquid, the Russian capital now offers world class food, including my favourite: Georgian restaurants.

I’m not talking about restaurants serving southern fried chicken, or dishes from 18th-century Britain, but the cuisine containing the pomegranates, walnuts, meats, aubergines, and spices typical of the southern Caucasian country of Georgia.

Georgian Food and Wine
Georgia, the “fruit bowl” of the Soviet Union. 📷: DDohler

A month working in the Georgian capital Tbilisi in 2013 taught me that few things in life beat devouring its fresh produce and endless regional dishes in a picturesque setting. So I was thrilled when the Georgian National Tourism Administration invited me last autumn to fly a few hours south from Moscow. I got to spend a week gorging on the staple – and heart attack-inducing – khachapuri (melted cheese in soft doughy bread); plump, juicy dumplings (khinkali); and everything else that earned this country the nickname the “fruit bowl” of the Soviet Union.

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10 Things To Know When Preparing to Intern in the United States

You’ve gone through the process of submitting your documents, you’ve reviewed things over and over again and finally your application has been approved for visa sponsorship with Cultural Vistas!  Congratulations!  You’re now one step closer to starting your J-1 internship or training program in the United States.  But what comes next?

At Cultural Vistas, we are committed to providing support throughout your exchange program.  We want to help you to navigate through the process of applying for your visa.  We facilitated exchanges for over 4,600 students and professionals last year alone, and we are here to help your process go smoothly too.

Passport full of visas, 📷= J Aaron Farr

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