NEW YORK – Research continually shows that well-designed educational and work-based international experiences strengthen student employability and career prospects upon graduation.
However, while the number of Americans studying overseas is increasing, less than 2% of all students enrolled at U.S. higher education institutions study or intern abroad every year, and even fewer are members of minority communities. On the employer side, the demand for a globally-competent and mobile workforce shows no signs of slowing down.
To address this gap, Cultural Vistas created its own fully-funded fellowship program. Now in its sixth year, the Cultural Vistas Fellowship provides immersive eight-week summer internships for U.S. undergraduates from backgrounds underrepresented in study abroad.
This year, the Cultural Vistas has expanded its fellowship in multiple ways. As part of its organizational priority to provide more Americans with skill-building overseas opportunities, Cultural Vistas will be funding two additional fellows to participate in summer internships in 2018. This will also be the first year the Cultural Vistas Fellowship will take place in Hong Kong, in addition to Buenos Aires and Berlin.
“The Cultural Vistas Fellowship is a unique way for our organization to truly act out its mission by investing in the international experience of the next generation of American leaders,” said Ruth Bittner, a senior program officer at Cultural Vistas who oversees the program. “We are excited to support an additional two students participating this summer, and we are thrilled to explore Hong Kong, an exciting destination for our students.”
The 14 Cultural Vistas Fellows were selected from a nationally competitive pool and hail from diverse backgrounds, but they all agree on the importance of building professional and personal skills internationally.
“It is my hope to take what I learn academically, professionally, and personally to be the voice for the marginalized groups … which is why I chose Argentina,” said Abisag Perez. “I would like to cause a change in their country while immersing myself in their culture.”
Earlier this spring, the Cultural Vistas Fellows took part in virtual learning activities to prepare for their time abroad, discuss issues specific to their host countries, and to learn about and from one another. The group will convene in New York City on June 11 for an orientation prior to traveling overseas. The fellows, in three different cohorts, will then spend June and July living and interning in Buenos Aires, Berlin, or Hong Kong.
The Cultural Vistas Fellowship continues after the students return stateside. In August, the group will take part in a re-entry seminar in New York City to reflect on their time overseas and begin developing their “Fellows in Service” projects to share the knowledge they gained while abroad with their respective campuses and local communities during the Fall 2018 semester.
Since its inception in 2013, Cultural Vistas has reinvested $250,000 directly from its own revenue into the Cultural Vistas Fellowship. Members of Cultural Vistas’ alumni and donor communities remain essential to growing the fellowship. Together, this support has provided over 60 American undergraduate students from 51 universities the opportunity to gain invaluable work experience abroad.
Our Sixth Class of Cultural Vistas Fellows
The College of Wooster
University of California, Merced
Arizona State University
Ball State University
Florida International University
University of Rhode Island
Montclair State University
University of North Texas
University of Texas, San Antonio
Portland State University