Cultural Vistas Blog

5 Foods to Try During Your Brazilian Internship

Cultural Vistas’ Internship Program in Brazil provides more than an opportunity for U.S. college students to spend their summers gaining professional experience. It’s also a chance to get to know the infectious Brazilian way of life, which of course includes sampling its delicious food.

Rio de Janeiro seen from Sugarloaf Mountain
Rio de Janeiro seen from Sugarloaf Mountain 📸: Christian Haugen

Brazilian cuisine is a melting pot of global influences, ranging from African, European, Middle Eastern, and homegrown flavors. It’s as wide-ranging and unique as the regions and people that comprise Brazil. Dishes and local specialties in Brazil can vary greatly in flavor, spices, and preparation, depending on what state or region you’re in. For example, Bahia’s cuisine is heavily African-influenced, while many of São Paulo’s culinary offerings reflect its substantial Japanese population.

Because there are so many amazing and delicious foods to try in Brazil, it wouldn’t be possible to list them all here (you’ll just have to get out there and aspire to try as many as you can!).

Read more

The Yearly Wind-down: Reflections on IVLP’s 2016 Projects

Winston Churchill once said, “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” With that idea in mind, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) team at Cultural Vistas recently mulled over the year that was in 2016.

And there was a lot to reflect upon with a record 292 visitors and 42 projects in 2016!

Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from this year.


Read more

Why Learning About International Cultures is Important

This November 14– 18, Cultural Vistas participated in International Education Week (IEW) by bringing international exchange visitors to elementary, middle and high schools in both New York and Washington, D.C to give presentations on their home countries. This year we had 19 J-1 international interns and exchange alumni participate.  The hope is, by sharing their cultures with young American students, participants help to increase global understanding.

Through feedback collected from teachers, students, our international participants, and Cultural Vistas staff, we learned that these presentations are influential and can make a lasting impact on everyone’s life. 

Read more

This #GivingTuesday, We’re Inspired By These Muskie Alumni Volunteers

#GivingTuesday is a global movement that connects individuals, communities, and organizations around the world to celebrate and encourage giving back. Celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, it represents a global day focused on promoting sustainable change in one’s community.

Even before #GivingTuesday, volunteering and investing in one’s community has been an important facet of American culture. Dating back to the founding of our country, Americans have banded together to help serve the collective good. In 1736, Benjamin Franklin founded the first volunteer firehouse, a concept that continues today with more than 70 percent of firefighters in the United States being volunteers.

Nowadays, the idea of giving encompasses donating one’s time, money, or knowledge to better the health and well-being of the community. In 2015 alone, more than 62 million Americans volunteered more than 7.8 billion hours.

At Cultural Vistas, we honor this American tradition by encouraging our international participants to give back to their adopted communities.

Read more

To Moscow, to Moscow!

To Moscow, to Moscow! – this has always been the yearning phrase proclaimed by characters in novels by Anton Chekhov. “To Moscow!“, they say full of longing because life is supposedly better in Moscow, where they anticipated work and opportunity. But in the end, they never go to Moscow. In June 2016 I, too, told myself: “To Moscow!” but with one difference – I actually went!

What made the difference? The Alfa Fellowship Program.

When I began my undergraduate studies in 2006, I chose Russian as a foreign language. At that time, I could never have imagined that I would develop such a close relationship to Russia and its culture, build such kind friendships with its people, and take several trips resulting from this choice. Since then, I have always been pulled back to Russia.

Ten years later, in the summer of 2016, I now find myself back in Moscow through the Alfa Fellowship Program, a young professionals program for emerging leaders from the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany.

Read more

So You’ve Reached Your Goal Level in a Language. Now What?

Some say that learning a new language after you have reached adulthood is impossible, or too hard, or you just don’t have enough time for it.

Granted, learning a language is difficult. In addition to suddenly having to relearn the grammar of your native language, you are now confronted with memorizing vocabulary lists . You sign up for a class, go through the standard levels of basic, intermediate, advanced intermediate. Maybe you even travel to the country of the language you are learning, or find some friends to practice with.

Finally, you reach your goal level. Now what?

Read more

International Education: What Does It Mean to You?

At the root of our work is the belief that global understanding and the opportunities to learn about other’s cultures and perspectives,
not only broadens our own, but enables us to explore more effective approaches to a range of societal issues.

When we understand how people experience the world, we become more aware of our own experiences. We are better informed. Ideas and solutions that never would have occurred to us are suddenly possible.

This is why every year we look forward to celebrating International Education Week (IEW). Next week, for the eighth-straight year, Cultural Vistas will celebrate IEW by organizing classroom visits that allow our international exchange participants to share their home cultures and traditions with U.S. youth.

We will bring 19 J-1 international interns and exchange alumni representing nine different countries to present at six public elementary, middle and high schools across New York and Washington D.C. As we prepped our volunteers for the week’s activities, we asked them to choose a word or phrase they associate with international education.

Read more

Successful Refugee Integration Begins at the Local Level

The civil war in Syria and the continued turmoil in the Middle East has resulted in millions of people – families, men, women and children – fleeing their homes. With communities torn apart by war and violence, refugees hope to find a better future in places where they can lead their lives in peace, security and stability.

At the recent Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, hosted by President Obama in partnership with six countries, including Germany, there was a shared understanding that the refugee response must be as global in nature as the crisis itself is. This will support policies, resources and funding for millions of displaced people worldwide.

Many refugees will resettle in both Germany and the United States. Though our national response is important, the ultimate success of the refugee crisis will depend on the integration that takes places in hundreds, if not thousands of local communities throughout the two countries. Once again, we must think globally and act locally to properly address this challenge.

Read more

Cachai? (Did You Catch That?): A Primer on Chilean Slang

You’ve taken years of Spanish. Maybe you even studied in a Spanish-speaking country. You feel prepared to take on the challenge of interning in a second language. And then you arrive in Chile and suddenly you’re not so sure that what you’re hearing can be described as español – especially since they seem to be calling it castellano!

With its slang and strongly accented speakers, Chilean Spanish can be difficult to understand at first. Once you get used to it though, you’ll realize how fun it is to say things the Chilean way.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, Patagonia.
Photo Credit: Douglas Scorteganga

Read more

Making New Friends in Unexpected Places

The people you meet and the relationships you form are often the most lasting and rewarding parts of traveling.

And sometimes, those special bonds and friendships can come from the most unexpected of places.

That’s exactly the takeaway that Ben, one of our Train USA J-1 alumni and a winner of our 2015 contest, learned during his U.S. exchange experience.

ben schindler photo contest
New York City Slow Down, Merit Winner of the 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest

Read more