Cultural Vistas President & CEO - Robert Fenstermacher

A Message from Our President & CEO

Robert Fenstermacher | President & Chief Executive Officer

We are Cultural Vistas.

Three years ago, we embarked on a bold new journey, bringing together two long-standing exchange organizations to create a new organization that would strengthen, grow and improve our existing programs and allow us to develop new ones, expanding and diversifying our portfolio of international exchange opportunities.

At the time, we were told that more than half of all mergers fail and those that don’t, take at least three years to complete the transition and to establish a new culture and identity.

As with all mergers, we have had our share of challenges along the way, but as we move into our fourth year, I can proudly say that our union has been a success thanks to the hard work and commitment of everyone at Cultural Vistas.

In terms of growth since our merger, the number of participants served by our programs has increased by 35 percent, our annual revenue has increased by 72 percent, and our staff has expanded by more than 40 percent. We have instituted new partnerships and secured a greater variety of funding sources, allowing us to add a number of new exchanges to our program portfolio. And in 2013, we established our first overseas subsidiary with a European office based in Berlin. Our programs now touch people in nearly 140 countries.

The creation of Cultural Vistas, however, was about much more than just growth. It was about creating a new shared culture that would better enable us to fulfill our mission to enrich minds, advance global skills, build careers, and connect lives through international exchange. Our core values embody who we are as an organization and serve as the principles that influence the implementation of our programs.

In three short years, we have come a long way. We have established a new culture and identity and have greatly enhanced our ability to positively impact and change people’s lives through the international experiences we provide.

As we continue our journey, we invite you to join the Cultural Vistas family and to help us create more opportunities for people to inquire, learn, experience, and understand the interconnected world we live in.

We all can and do make a difference.


Cultural Vistas - What We Do

What We Do

We annually serve more than 5,000 students, professionals, and emerging leaders through career-focused internships, educational study tours, language immersion and cultural exchange programs in the United States and around the world.

  • Professionally-focused study tours in a wide range of career fields

  • Customized program development and placement programs for universities, businesses, foundations, and government institutions

  • International internship, fellowship, and immersion programs in Asia, Europe, South America, and the United States

  • J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa sponsorship and programmatic services for interns, trainees, and teachers

  • U.S. and foreign government public diplomacy initiatives

  • Cross-cultural learning and professional development seminars and activities

Cultural Vistas - Our Mission

Our Mission

To enrich minds, advance global skills, build careers, and connect lives through international exchange.

Cultural Vistas - Our Vision

Our Vision

To create memorable and transforming global learning opportunities that enrich career and encourage leadership development. We firmly believe that those who travel to other countries to deeply inquire, learn, experience, and understand other cultures and practices will be the ones to lead and succeed in our increasingly interconnected world.

Cultural Vistas - Our Core Values

Our Core Values

At Cultural Vistas, we are committed to empowering individuals and impacting lives through international exchange. Our core values serve as a foundation for our organizational culture and as the principles that guide all of our nonprofit's work and actions on a daily basis.

We are dedicated to providing all of our stakeholders with the highest level of professionalism and commitment in all that we do.

We encourage individuals from around the world to work together through our exchange programs, and value a team-based approach in everything we do.

Experiential Learning
We provide personally and professionally transformative experiences through a "learning by doing" philosophy.

Diversity and Multiculturalism
We bring together people representing cultures and languages from around the world to learn new perspectives, share knowledge, and exchange best practices.

On the Importance of International Experience


On Following Your Ambitions


On The Impact of Cultural Exchange


Since 2010, Cultural Vistas programs have experienced nearly 35 percent growth in participants.

Cultural Vistas Infographic - Participants 2010
Cultural Vistas Infographic - Participants 2011
Cultural Vistas Infographic - Participants 2012
Cultural Vistas Infographic - Participants 2013

Top Sending Countries for Participants


Top Destination Countries for Participants


Our staff continues to grow.

Cultural Vistas Staff infomation
Cultural Vistas Staff infomation
Cultural Vistas Staff infomation
Cultural Vistas Staff infomation

Our capacity to fulfill our mission has never been greater.

Revenue in 2010
Revenue in 2011
Revenue in 2012
Revenue in 2013

By the Numbers: Cultural Vistas Programs in 2013

Percentage of Male to Female Participants
Average Age and Length of Program
Top Fields

Programs + Highlights

Cultural Vistas Train Participant

Train USA

In 2013, 4,427 individuals from 105 countries participated in career-building exchange programs in the United States through our Train USA program. Moreover, intern and trainee exchanges took place with 1,157 different host companies, spanning 45 different states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Saipan and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Cultural Vistas IVLP Program

International Visitor Leadership Program

In 2012-13, Cultural Vistas successfully completed its second year as an implementing partner for the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Over the course of the year, our staff arranged 30 projects for 192 international visitors from 81 countries spanning six continents - nearly half of whom had never been to the United States.

Cultural Vistas Korea WEST Participant

Korea WEST

Through its role as one of three designated sponsors for the Korea WEST (Work, English, Study, Travel) exchange program, Cultural Vistas enabled 138 university students and recent graduates to explore future careers and develop lifelong skills through English language training and acculturation, placement in professional internships, and the opportunity to sightsee across the United States before returning home.

Cultural Vistas Cross-Cultural

A Unique Cross-Cultural Experience

Cultural Vistas continued its tradition of bringing international students and young professionals in the United States on J-1 intern and trainee exchanges into elementary school classrooms to lead activities and discussions about their home cultures. In 2013, Cultural Vistas accompanied more than 40 interns and trainees from seven nations on visits to schools in New York, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Cultural Vistas Fellows

Cultural Vistas Fellowship

The Cultural Vistas Fellowship, a new initiative funded directly through organizational revenue, sent its inaugural class of seven fellows abroad to Argentina, Germany, and Singapore to gain professional experience through eight-week internships in the field of sustainability.

Cultural Vistas CBYX Participant

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals

The reciprocal Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, completed its 29th year, sending 75 Americans to Germany and 75 Germans to the United States to gain an understanding of everyday life, education, and professional training abroad.
Cultural Vistas Robert Bosch Fellows

Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program

The Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program sent 19 Americans to Germany for a professional development program aimed at fostering transatlantic relations marking a 30-year partnership with the Robert Bosch Foundation in Stuttgart.

Cultural Vistas Alfa Fellows

Alfa Fellowship Program

Through its role as the U.S. administrator in the Alfa Fellowship Program, Cultural Vistas sent a group of 14 emerging leaders, consisting of 10 Americans and four Britons to Russia for an 11-month immersion program that includes high-level work placements and intensive language training.

Cultural Vistas GCL Participant

Global Career Launch

The Global Career Launch program provided 73 university students from five different countries (predominantly China and Hong Kong) with eight-week internship and cultural immersion experiences in Chicago, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. during the summer of 2013.

Cultural Vistas Internships Abroad

Internships Abroad

Through its Internships Abroad and Independent Work Abroad programs, Cultural Vistas provided summer and year-long internship placements for 116 students and young professionals in Argentina, Chile, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland in 2013.

Cultural Vistas IAESTE Participants

IAESTE United States

Cultural Vistas facilitated internships in 24 different countries for 53 American students and welcomed 59 international students from 28 countries as part of its role as the U.S. representative for the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, a longstanding reciprocal exchange program for technical students.

Cultural Vistas AYLP Participants

American Youth Leadership Program

Cultural Vistas staff accompanied 18 high school students and two educators from 15 different states to Southeast Asia for three weeks over the summer as part of the American Youth Leadership Program with Singapore and Malaysia, a U.S. Department of State grant initiative focused on the two nations’ approaches to sustainable development.

Cultural Vistas STEM Launch Participant


Cultural Vistas led a two-week study tour, funded by The Halle Foundation, that brought 18 students and two faculty members from both Morehouse and Spelman colleges to Berlin and Munich to learn firsthand of the global nature and prospective careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Cultural Vistas Community Activism Exchange

Community Activism on Youth Issues

In February, Cultural Vistas welcomed 10 professionals from youth-serving organizations throughout the United Kingdom for a three-week, five-city U.S. exchange. This short-term program, funded through a 2012 London Olympics Legacy Fund Grant awarded by the U.S. Embassy in London, provided opportunities to learn firsthand how U.S. organizations engage and forge connections with the youth they serve.
Cultural Vistas Kizuna Project Participants

Kizuna Project

The Kizuna Project, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, provided funded opportunities to 66 Japanese university students and recent graduates – most of whom were from or volunteered in regions affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake – to share their stories, develop new skills, and experience American life through an intensive cultural exchange program.

Cultural Vistas Student Journalist Exchange Participant

Update America: Student Journalism Exchange

In August, Cultural Vistas administered Update America, a 15-day student journalist exchange program, funded by the U.S. Embassy in London, which brought nine high school students from the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Scotland to the United States for a two-week reporting tour.

In Their Own Words

Cultural Vistas Host Company

William Miller, Professor at Cornell University
U.S. Internship Host

The Department of Horticulture at Cornell University has hosted Dutch interns for 16 years. They provide training in horticulture, specifically in the advancement of flowerbulb development. The institute hosted Dutch intern Jurina Roos de Wit for seven months.

“Through our cooperative arrangement with the association representing all Dutch flowerbulb exporters, we are fortunate to host an intern each year. Cultural Vistas has been a great partner in providing visa support for these interns. Roos de Wit is really excellent personally and professionally. She knows a great deal about tulips, and is a former Dutch tulip judging champion. She has been an integral part of our research program and, perhaps more importantly, has learned great skills that help to move the Dutch bulb industry forward.”

Cultural Vistas Fellowship

Jillian Reilly, Cultural Vistas Fellowship
Intern in Singapore

University of Minnesota student Jillian Reilly was one of seven American students in the inaugural class of the Cultural Vistas Fellowship. Jillian spent the summer of 2013 completing an environmental education internship abroad in Singapore at the Waterways Watch Society.

“Having never traveled beyond the borders of the U.S., I had an unfulfilled desire to go abroad. At the same time, I wanted to make productive use of my time by engaging in a work or study-related program. The Cultural Vistas Fellowship program afforded both the opportunity to travel to Singapore and a connection to an internship with a local non-profit. I hoped that being exposed to the work culture of a different country would provide a more profound appreciation and understanding of its whole culture; this assumption turned out to be right.”

Cultural Vistas Korea WEST Program

Yujin Jung, Korea WEST
Intern from South Korea

Round 11 Korea WEST (Work, English, Study, Travel) program participant Yujin “Rachel” Jung spent four months taking English classes in Washington, D.C. before interning with Voice of America. She focused on making the most of her time in the United States, attending forums, volunteering, and sharing Korean culture in local schools during International Education Week.

“I have learned how to develop articles, do voice announcing, and even professional reporting. As a result, I’ve decided that I’d like to be an international broadcast journalist. To achieve this goal, I will do my best to perform as well as I can, while trying to learn as much as I can. Even though there are times when I feel like the challenges I am facing are too hard to overcome, I tell myself that there are lots of things I can learn even while struggling. I believe these experiences will make me stronger and motivate me not to give up. I will enjoy every challenge I face while I’m here in the United States.”

Cultural Vistas International Visitor Leadership Program

Bosede Oboh, International Visitor Leadership Program
2012 Emerging Leader from Nigeria

In its first two years as an IVLP National Program Agency, Cultural Vistas has already witnessed the impact of its role in this longstanding public diplomacy effort.

In July 2012, 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 along with emerging leaders from 12 other African nations. The visit led to long-lasting relationships, new opportunities, and ideas for solutions she could implement once back home to 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. 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.”

Cultural Activities

Cultural Vistas is committed to providing both its American and international interns and trainees with a balance of meaningful learning opportunities during their exchange programs – both in and outside the workplace.

  • Cultural Vistas Professional Development
  • Cultural Vistas Professional Development
  • Cultural Vistas Professional Development
  • Cultural Vistas Professional Development

Host Companies Embracing Role as Cultural Ambassadors

Engaging and encouraging our host organizations to promote cultural enrichment within and outside the workplace remains an ongoing priority. As a result, 2013 saw U.S. host companies continue to embrace their role as ambassadors and organize opportunities for international interns and trainees to enjoy their communities and learn more about American culture.

Sadara Chemical Company, a joint venture between Dow Chemical and SAUDI ARAMCO and new host organization, provides monthly cultural activities for interns from Saudi Arabia who are receiving on-the-job training at Dow facilities in Texas and Louisiana. This program, which is slated to go through 2014, is preparing participants for their careers at the petrochemical facility once it opens. 

In 2013, Sadara Chemical organized a weekend event at a Dude Ranch in Texas, where the participants embraced the culture of the American cowboy including riding horses, roping, Texas longhorns, local cuisine, line dancing and a mariachi band.

  • Cultural Vistas Professional Development
  • Cultural Vistas Professional Development
  • Cultural Vistas Professional Development

Professional Development

In 2013, Cultural Vistas hosted more than 75 formal professional development, networking, and cultural orientation events and activities serving more than 1,500 individuals.

All our participants receive comprehensive pre‐departure orientation materials. Additionally, our staff held several online and in-person group orientation seminars across the United States and overseas including those held in Berlin, Tokyo, Ontario, and Seoul, among other locations.

Holding these orientations ensures that participants have ample opportunity to ask questions prior to embarking upon their international experiences, while enabling us to stress the importance of health and safety during their programs.

Cultural Vistas Fathom Gallery Event

Cultural Vistas Gatherings & Special Events

In 2013, Cultural Vistas hosted a series of gatherings and special events across the United States for members of its exchange community to come together, share ideas, network, and contribute to a meaningful dialogue on issues of global interest. Over the course of the year, more than 500 individuals attended events held in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

These outings provide opportunities for our staff, international interns, American alumni, hosts and partner organizations to get know each other more closely and interact in an informal setting. It also provides a venue to celebrate the value and importance of exchange programs among an audience of our stakeholders. One example of these events was a panel discussion we hosted on global entrepreneurship in San Francisco.

2013: A Year in Photos