Cultural Vistas Blog

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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During the Pandemic, IVLP Alumna Supports Her Community in Bolivia

When María Alejandra Serrate saw her community in need during the pandemic, she rose to the occasion.

We met María when she visited the United States from Bolivia through an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project. In May 2019, María was one of fifteen international visitors from Latin America that traveled around the United States. During their professional tour, these women discussed how to be drivers of social and economic change in their own communities.

As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic started, we reached out to María. Her organization has been providing humanitarian relief in Bolivia. In this Q&A, María shared how her IVLP experience helped her face this unprecedented crisis.

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How Social Distancing is Bringing Us Closer Together at the Office

I am used to working at the front desk of Cultural Vistas: a bustling office full of international visitors and action. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the way we communicate and work together internally had to change overnight. Programs were canceled left-and-right. Our future was suddenly looking uncertain.

Working remotely has been an adjustment, especially for those who are extroverts (like myself). It became clear to me very quickly that maintaining a sense of community during this period of remote work was going to be more difficult and more important than ever. 

After two-plus months implementing new initiatives, our socially-distant office may be more connected than ever.

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