Cultural Vistas Blog

How to Make the Most Out of Your Summer Internship

A Few Useful Tips from #MuskieIntern Alumni

How often do we take someone’s advice? How often do we listen to someone’s suggestion? Seeking and giving advice are very important parts of effective leadership. According to the Harvard Business Review, “When the exchange is done well, people on both sides of the table benefit.”

Muskie Internship Program Summer Orientation Alumni
Alumni panel discussions during the 2017 Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program orientation, held in May 2017 in Washington D.C.

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Czech Teacher Brings New Perspective to Connecticut Classrooms

Pavel Novak already knew what he wanted to teach at South Kent School a few years before he officially arrived from the Czech Republic. He thought it would be important to tell his students at the all-boys boarding school in western Connecticut about what it was like growing up in communist Central Europe.

“I said I would like to share my first-hand experience with life in a totalitarian regime–propaganda, brainwashing, etcetera. At that time, I didn’t know it would be such a hot topic,” he said. “I was prepping for it before my arrival here, and then it turned out it was more than a little important to talk about it.”

Pavel Novak South Kent High School Teach USA
Pavel Novak encourages his students at South Kent School to form their own opinions about contemporary issues. He is one of 36 educators from 11 countries who began teacher exchanges with Cultural Vistas during the 2016-17 school year.

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Upbeat + In Tune: The Next Generation of Austrian Change Makers

Tall and tan and young and lovely…

…goes the opening line of “The Girl from Ipanema,” one of the most covered songs in modern music history. Originally performed in the bossa nova style, the one-hit wonder has been adapted to classical compositions, performed by punk bands, and jammed by jazz legends.

So, what does that have to do with our recent leadership development workshop for Austrian youth? In short, everything.

The Generation Next Youth Leadership Initiative is providing 20 Austrian students, ranging in age from 19 to 28, the opportunity to examine the dynamic processes of integration while learning the principles of civic education, respect for diversity, and community engagement through intensive leadership training.

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Sea Lion Saved by International Visitors

“The starving four-month-old pup had several wounds and was much too young to care for himself.”

This was the sign we saw about Leo, a sea lion who was abandoned in Ocean Shores, Washington. I never imagined he’d come to mean much more to me and the group with whom I was traveling cross-country. But big and bizarre things happen when you’re traveling with 22 young marine professionals. And sometimes that includes adopting a sea lion.

Sea Lion Marine Mammal Center Adoption IVLP
The group of young oceaneers collects money to adopt Leo.

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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 Conaway, 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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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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