Cultural Vistas Blog

Edmund S. Muskie Intern Helps Host University Prepare for the “New Normal”

The coronavirus pandemic drastically altered Fulbright Scholar and 2020 Edmund S. Muskie Intern Xeniya Volkova’s summer plans, but she has made the best of the “new normal.” Originally from Kazakhstan, Xeniya is earning her master’s degree in Educational Technology at Lehigh University. Lehigh is also hosting her for a summer internship, where she is helping design online courses and trainings for the upcoming academic year.

In this Q&A, Xeniya shares insights about her summer experience and how she made the most of her internship during the pandemic.

Xeniya in front of the Lehigh University Center. Staying close to campus during her summer internship gives her ready access to a community and campus she is familiar with during an uncertain time.

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IAESTE Interns Help Carnegie Mellon Lab Win National Public Safety Challenge

The benefits of international exchange extend way beyond building strong cultural ties. In the science and technology industry, there are exceptional benefits of hosting experienced international interns.

Senior Systems Scientist Dr. Yang Cai is a strong advocate for hosting international interns. He has been welcoming International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) participants into his lab at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for the past decade.

Dr. Yang demonstrates a new tool at the Visual Intelligence Studio.

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Travel at Home: Revisiting Exchange Alumni Experiences 

Documenting travel provides an opportunity to both record memories and to chronicle our paths for others. These records allow others to follow the unique twists and turns of travel from the comfort of their homes. There are wonderful travel resources — books, articles, TV shows — with which to discover the world. 

Lucky for us at Cultural Vistas, we can travel vicariously through our participants by reading their stories of impact and adventure.

Here are some great examples to share, which may serve as an inspiration for a time when we are able to travel again.

Revisiting the United States

Felix Stoeth, a German participant on the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, chronicles his experiences on the program on his blog. His insightful posts compare what he might encounter in the United States to his actual experiences. While his blog is in German, (good practice for the German-speakers out there) the photos, particularly of Maui, need no translation!


Photo Credit: Felix Stoeth

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Interning in Quarantine: How a Swiss Intern Living in Brooklyn is Making It Work

On March 11, Adelaide Ernst saw on the news that travel from Europe to the United States would be suspended after March 13.

But Adelaide was scheduled to fly from Switzerland to New York just four days later.

Through the IAESTE United States program, Adelaide would be interning at Cultural Vistas to recruit host colleges for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals. To ensure her international internship wouldn’t be delayed, she rebooked her flight and landed at JFK airport just in time on March 13.

Since then, Adelaide’s entire internship experience has taken place exclusively out of her apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She’s never met anyone in the office in person. She hasn’t explored the city. She’s only really left her apartment to get groceries.

The situation is far from ideal, but Adelaide and her team are making it work. By communicating and connecting, Adelaide is quickly making incredible contributions to the CBYX team.

Adelaide Ernst in front of her internship work-from-home station in her Bushwick apartment.

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Experimenting with Agile in the Nonprofit World

How do you innovate in crisis, in an industry that relies on travel and face-to-face exchanges to survive?

People are cautious about going out to go to the grocery store. The thought of traveling to a different country seems like a far-off fantasy right now. In before-times, I would have just been getting back from a two-week trip to Amsterdam and Germany for my best friend’s wedding. That has now been postponed until next summer, and even the rescheduled date is still tentative.

The international exchange world has been hit particularly hard by the almost complete halt on international travel. Cultural Vistas and organizations like it need to work proactively to generate new business ideas in a world that will not see travel resume to 2019 levels until 2023.

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