Cultural Vistas Blog

Meet Our 38th Cohort of the CBYX for Young Professionals Program

It is our pleasure to announce the newest cohort of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals program! Seventy young professionals from the United States will leave for Germany on July 31st for an 11-month program of intensive language studies, homestay, internship and university study and be placed throughout Germany.

We are especially excited that the program will return to an in-person format this year after being fully virtual for the 37th cohort. Participants from the 37th year were invited to reapply, and many were selected for the in-person program again this year.

The 2021-2022 cohort was chosen from excellent candidates from 49 states and 1 U.S. territory. Finalists represent 30 states and Puerto Rico. Senior Director of CBYX Daniel Villanueva stated, “We are not only excited to again be able to facilitate this important transatlantic exchange program in person this year, but also that the Fellows represent a diverse cross-section of the USA.“ This year, the most scholarship recipients hail from the states of New York, California, and Florida, and Texas. Participant career goals include landscape architecture, floristry, film/documentary production, culinary arts, aerospace engineering, and furniture design.

Celebrating its 38th anniversary as a joint program of the German Bundestag and U.S. Congress, the CBYX for Young Professionals program provides 75 American and 75 German young leaders the opportunity to spend up to a year in each other’s countries studying, interning, and living with host families. The fellowship is open to candidates in all career fields between the ages of 18 ½ and 24 who are interested in a year of academic, professional, and cultural exchange.  CBYX also offers opportunities for high school students and individuals interested in vocational training.

Cultural Vistas administers the CBYX for Young Professionals program through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  For additional information about CBYX please visit

If you have any questions about our cohort or the CBYX for Young Professionals program, please contact us at or 212-497-3555.

Our cohort at a glance:

51.4% of fellows come from public universities

4.3% of fellows come from community colleges

64.3% of fellows identify as female

35.7% of fellows identify as male

44% of fellows had little to no German language skills

7 educational institutions have more than one student or alum represented in the cohort

Career field highlights:

41.4% of fellows come from humanities fields

20% of fellows come from STEM fields

10% of fellows come from arts fields

7.1% of fellows come from vocational fields


Nick Tran

Nick Tran is currently a student in the University of Arizona's School of Government and Public Policy with a major in Public Policy. He intends on pursuing an internship or apprenticeship in a Rathaus to learn more about the legislative process in Germany. He aspires to work in the US government at the federal level abroad to foster cooperation between US constituents and allies abroad.


Hannah Chen

Hannah Chen is a recent graduate from Boston College with a double major in International Studies and Islamic Civilizations and Societies. She will be waitressing at a popular restaurant in Boston until she departs for Germany in August. She hopes to pursue an internship within the human rights and non-profit community to learn more about the refugee crisis in the German context. Hannah hopes to one day be a champion of human rights and refugees rights in the United States.

Jessica (Jess) Chen

Jess Chen is an art historian and critic from San Francisco, California. Her writing can be found in ART PAPERS, Femme Art Review, and other publications. She graduated from Duke University summa cum laude in 2020, where she studied art history and public policy as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. After her year in Germany, she will attend Williams College as a MA candidate in art history and plans to pursue a career in academia.

Nora Karakashian

Nora Karakashian is a passionate Political Science student looking to expand her horizons in Germany and immerse herself in a new culture.

Mai Nguyen

Mai Nguyen graduated from Pitzer College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. She is currently a software engineer at Laserfiche, a content management software company inLong Beach, California. Mai intends to explore the intersectionality of technology, design, and collective good during her study in Germany. She hopes to pursue a career in Business Intelligence.

Sophia Silane

Sophia Silane graduated from Pitzer College in May 2020 with a double major in Studio Art and Art History. During the COVID lockdown, she began experimenting with materials like metal, acrylic, and plastic and documented the process online. She currently works from home designing, creating, and selling these pieces over her social media platform. She is looking forward to seeing how her body of work adjusts and transforms with the contemporary art scene in Germany.

Sierra Stephens

Sierra Stephens is from the San Francisco Bay Area (Fairfax, CA) and graduated with a BA in Public Policy from the University of Michigan in May 2020. Since January 2021, she has been in Madrid, Spain on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant, working on facilitating the Model United Nations program at a bilingual secondary school. Sierra has spent her undergraduate career learning about policy and economics and is extremely excited to gain a deeper understanding of the socio-economic and political sphere of Europe through both coursework and an internship with CBYX in Germany this coming fall!

Vienna Vance

Vienna Vance graduated this June from Pomona College, where she majored in Cognitive Science. At Pomona, she taught preschoolers to love books through the Jumpstart program and she worked at the Office of Study Abroad as a Peer Mentor. She intends to seek an internship at a school or nonprofit working with young children who are German immigrants. Vienna plans to study to become a school psychologist upon her return from Germany in 2022.


Elise Alexander

Elise Alexander is originally from Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Harvard College in 2019 with a degree in Sociology and Education Studies. Afterward, she worked as an analyst at the Louisiana Department of Education, where she focused on state education policy for students with disabilities. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and camping, singing in choirs, and learning about politics.


Liz Warner

Liz Warner graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2018 with a double major in Plan II and History. She has been working as a consultant for a digital transformation company while living and exploring San Francisco. She intends to find an internship at a sustainable business consultancy and is looking forward to learning about sustainable urbanism while in Germany.


Jamauri Bryan

Jamauri Bryan recently graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Family, Youth, & Community Sciences. He is currently working as a Computer Technician for the UF College of Liberal Arts up until he leaves for Germany in July. He intends to pursue an internship in IT Computer Networking or Computer Science at a German company. He is excited to visit Germany for the first time and learn about the use of technology in German society.

Charlotte Coon

Charlotte Coon is a recent graduate from the University of Florida where she studied Political Science and International Studies with a European focus. Charlotte loves traveling to new places and has been to over 10 countries as well as all over the US. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and being outdoors. Professionally, she would like to go into foreign policy research and is looking into getting an MBA after taking some time off.

Kendal McGinnis

Kendal McGinnis recently graduated from Colorado College with a major in English Literature. She will be working at a bakery in Telluride, Colorado until she leaves for Germany in August. She intends to pursue an apprenticeship at a small bakery in Germany to learn about German bread-making and practice the language. She hopes to one day collaborate with her sister Skye Comminos in a culinary project called "Taste the Skye" which combines food sovereignty and creative expression to make healthy, holistic cuisine.

Abigail Megginson

Abigail Megginson graduated from the University of West Florida in 2019 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. She has worked as a radio reporter for her hometown NPR station and most recently for C-SPAN as a production assistant on the Washington Journal. She will be freelancing until she leaves for Germany. Abigail intends to pursue an internship at an English language publication in Germany to learn about German media and international correspondent work. Abigail hopes to one day have a career covering international news.

Jack Wingate

Jack Wingate is a filmmaker that was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. In December of 2020, he graduated from FSU with his B.A. in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Jack Wingate is a queer filmmaker that hopes to continue creating documentaries that explore ideas of community, family, and identity. Currently, he is sending his thesis film "Belleau Wood" out to film festivals.


Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald recently graduated from Kennesaw State University with an International Business degree. His24 years old and grew up just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Ian currently works in corporate and special sales at BMassisting with the fleet, rental, and VIP segments. This fall, he heads off to Germany as a part of the CBYX program wherhewill take language courses, attend university and complete an internship.

Shruthi Santhanam

Shruthi Santhanam recently graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degrein Computer Science. She intends to study computer science and product management at a technical university in Germanyand intern at a technology company. She hopes to gain a global perspective of the technology industry, which will be usein a product management role in the future.

Daeya Shealy

Daeya Shealy recently graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in Industrial Design. For the culminating project of her college career, she created a concept sustainable children’s clothing brand, combining her interests in branding and soft goods design. In Germany, she hopes to intern with sustainable businesses that align with her diverse skill set and these interests.


Alyssa Felzien

Alyssa Felzien graduated from Boise State University in May with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a German Intermediate Certificate. Before leaving for Germany, she will work as a programming tutor and spend as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors. During the exchange, she wants to learn more about computer science, Germany, and their approach to data privacy, cybersecurity, and machine learning. After the program, she hopes to start a software engineering job, tutor German, and support cultural exchange between the US and Germany.

Kennedy Jones

Kennedy Jones is a recent graduate from Southern Utah University where she earned an honors degree in Theatre Arts with minors in Arts Administration and Dance Performance. Between graduation and CBYX, she worked as a Legislative Attache for the Idaho House of Representatives. Kennedy is passionate about the arts and is looking forward to hopefully interning with a German theatre or museum.

Dari Rojas

Darinkka Rojas Graduated from the University of Idaho in May 2019 with a bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and Health. She will be finishing her time in the US working together enriching the lives of her patients with Alzheimer's and Dementia until she leaves for a diplomatic exchange in Germany later in July. She intends to pursue an internship in Sexual Health Education to learn more about Germany's Sexual Health Education Curriculum and Sexual Health services provided by their Health Care system. She hopes to gain experience that will help her further emphasize the importance of Sexual Health Education to communities at risk.



Zane Creek

Zane Creek is an interdisciplinary young professional with his sights set on empowering people around the globe. Having graduated from the University of Missouri - St. Louis in 2019 with a double major in International Business and German Studies, he will spend the coming year in Germany studying/practicing marketing strategy and analytics. Although the future is uncertain, Zane envisions himself developing innovative ways for people to self-govern and add value to their surroundings.

Paul Gordon

Paul Gordon is a default optimist and finding ways to energize people through positivity resonates with him. When he is not getting his hands dirty working in forestry, Paul writes stories that encourage readers to think creatively and collaboratively about climate change. His goal is to help others understand how they can be environmental advocates. Paul graduated from DePaul University in 2020 with a bachelor's in International Studies and a minor in Journalism. He has worked 7 field seasons in conservation jobs and his writing appears in The Nation, In These Times, and Belt Magazine.

Zuka'a Z. Joudeh

Zuka'a Joudeh is a Palestinian daughter of immigrants born and raised in the US. While studying Political Science and Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Zuka'a volunteered as an ESL instructor and taught refugee and migrant women in the Chicago Area. In 2017 and 2018 she received grant funding to travel to Germany for work and study. While studying German she volunteered as a bicycle instructor and youth organizer for refugees in Berlin. After graduating in 2019, Zuka’a was awarded a Fulbright English teaching assistantship and taught refugee and migrant students in classes k-13 at a diverse school in Northern Germany. Outside of her Fulbright Zuka'a engaged with the community by volunteering as a English/German speaking partner and tutor. Due to the pandemic, Zuka'a returned to the US abruptly to be with her family. In the fall of 2020, she began a Public Service Fellowship with the Cleveland Foundation and is currently working as a Strategic Environmental Planner at a Metropolitan Planning Organization in Northeast Ohio. At the end of July, Zuka'a will be returning to Germany to complete a CBYX fellowship. She is interested in enhancing refugee/migrant participation in the democratic process and developing international cooperative strategies to improve the quality of life and protect the rights of refugees and migrants in Europe and the US.

Anastasia Kallish

Anastasia Kallish graduated from the College of DuPage with an Associate of Arts but plans on completing her bachelor's in International Relations and/or Cultural Studies. She will be working at a local German-speaking children's school until she leaves for Germany this summer. She intends to pursue an internship at a cultural organization during her time in Germany. She hopes to one day help American students study abroad, just like she did during her gap year in Austria back in 2016.


Hannah Benchik

Hannah Benchik is a graduate student at Indiana University Bloomington, studying Library Science with specializations in Rare Books & Manuscripts and Archives. She will be teaching English and working in digital archives until she leaves for Germany. She intends to pursue an internship at the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in the German Museum of Books and Writing and the Archive of Exiled Germans, 1933-1945. She hopes to work for a museum or library one day.


Emine Mutlu

Emine Rose Mutlu graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in 2019 with a degree in International Business and Logistics. Before leaving for Germany in July, Emine will be working for Kiewit Corporation in Houston, Texas as a Logistics Coordinator. She intends to pursue an internship in Logistics or Supply Chain Management and hopes to expand her German language skills during her time abroad. Emine intends to use this experience to become a more versatile and globally-minded professional in her field and hopes to pursue an MBA upon her return to the US.


Jesse Girrell

Jesse Girrell graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2020 with a degree in psychology. He currently works as a teacher and uses the most cutting-edge research to implement innovative curricula for younger children. He has a passion for the outdoors and loves any type of adventure. He is excited to represent his country as a civilian ambassador in the CBYX program.


Alec Twining

Alec Twining is a recent graduate from Calvin University, where he majored in Electrical Engineering and German. In his free time, he likes to hike, road bike, and play board games with friends. Long term, Alec wants to work for an automotive company where he can help to improve communication between the German and US branches.


Eliane Botts

Eliane Botts is a senior German major at the University of Missouri with minors in both Plant Sciences and Art. She has been working as a Florist and student manager at Tiger Garden for 4 years and will be working at Tiger Garden and with Sugarberry Blooms, a mid-Missouri wedding Florist, until she leaves for Germany. In Germany, she intends to pursue an internship in floristry, flower farming, or floral wholesale in order to gain a deeper understanding of the floral industry on an international level. She hopes to one day be able to merge her passion for the German language and culture with her experience and love for floristry.

Peter Coyne

Peter Coyne was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. He attended Park Hill South High School and graduated in 2016. After graduating high school, Peter moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to go to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) where he graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor of arts in Political Science and German with a minor in Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. While at UNL, he served as a legislative page for two years at the Nebraska State Legislature and interned at the Democratic National Committee for a summer. Peter is currently employed by the Nebraska Democratic Party as the Operations Director. In his free time, Peter likes to be outdoors, cook, and play saxophone or clarinet. Peter enjoys politics, especially international politics or the domestic politics of other countries. Peter hopes to, one day, work for the United States Department of State, the United Nations, or the European Union.

Brian Tang

Brian Tang recently graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Electrical Engineering. When heading over to Germany, he hopes to pursue an internship in the automotive industry with a focus on using machine learning to help with the automation process. In the future, he hopes to live and work in Germany.


Kathy Nguyen

Kathy Nguyen is a 2020 graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a native of Omaha, Nebraska. The communication studies and journalism and media communication double major has a passion for storytelling and building authentic connections. Whether it's social media copy or long-form copy, writing is her preferred method of breaking barriers and sharing perspectives. She has a budding career in content creation and copywriting and hopes to grow in these relevant fields. When she's not focusing on her career, she loves exploring off the beaten path, learning new cultures, and expanding her views on the world. As the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, she's very proud of her multicultural upbringing.

Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelors of Multidisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Sustainability and a Bachelor of Arts in German with a minor in Philosophy. He has owned his own business for almost five years where he has been restoring and painting old furniture. For an internship he plans to find one working in corporate responsibility in the area of sustainability. In the future he intends to learn more about and work in large scale sustainable design.

New Hampshire

Marta Rardin

Marta Rardin graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2020 with a major in Environmental Science, and a minor in Religion Studies. Her post-college experience so far has included full-time work on a small organic farm in Vermont for six months, and then on to customer service work at a bakery. She intends to pursue an internship within the field of sustainable agriculture, hopefully ending up at an organic farm or with an organization that does outreach and education on sustainable food systems. Marta hopes that throughout her life, she can help to make a positive impact on the climate by way of food, for she believes that food is a simple, yet powerful necessity that creates a community with one another, and with all life on earth.

Haley Shackford

Haley Shackford graduated from Manchester Central High School class of 2019. Haley was captain of thjuniorvarsity lacrosse team, participated in varsity swim, and played field hockey. She participated and competed in heschool'schapter for DECA. Haley enjoyed taking numerous business and language classes offered by her school. By takinthese courses,she discovered her true passion for the German language and culture. For the next year, Haley was given thopportunity torepresent the United States as a cultural ambassador and will be spending her year living with a hosfamily, while takingclasses at a German university and pursuing a marketing internship. She looks forward to the manendeavors and experiences thisfollowing year will bring as a recipient of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for YounProfessionals.

New Jersey

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith graduated from American University in May of 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a minor in Marketing. Her studies focused mainly on Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture. Taylor will continue to work at Meridian International Center as the IVLP Operations Manager until she leaves for Germany this fall. She is excited to pursue an internship based around public diplomacy and to gain more knowledge on international relations from the German viewpoint.

New York

William Avis

William grew up in Red Hook, NY in the Hudson Valley. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology finishing with a BFA in Industrial Design and a minor in Entrepreneurship. He has a variety of experiences in the design and home construction industry. His most recent position was as Library Manager and Interior Designer for an interior designers resource library. He plans on contributing to and learning from German businesses in the home design and construction industry, expanding his knowledge of German design and architecture.

Deborah Chai

Deborah graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a degree in Digital Media Studies with minors in History and Business. She currently works as a producer's assistant and as a supervisor at her local climbing gym. She intends to pursue working in a non-profit setting dedicated to the arts and the local community.

Lizzie Edwards

Lizzie Edwards recently graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University with a double major in Anthropology and Environmental Studies and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. In Germany, she intends to intern in the field of refugee resettlement in order to learn about the county's strategies for welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. She ultimately hopes to work for one of the United States’ refugee resettlement voluntary agencies (VOLAGs).

Lukas Griffin

Lukas Griffin graduated last May with a degree in Computer Science. He studied abroad during his junior year in Germany. He was scheduled to participate in last year's CBYX program, however, it was canceled due to COVID. Since then he has worked at a Start-up and an elementary school. Lukas has a passion for learning new languages and traveling to new places. He hopes that his CBYX experience this year will better his german language skills and take him to new places.

Ezra Roesch

Ezra Roesch graduated this May from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a second major in Environmental Studies. They would like to study ecology and agriculture while in Germany. They hope to one day work in the field of sustainability.

Zoë Shannon

Zoë graduated from Binghamton University in May 2020 with majors in History and Middle East & North Africa studies, and a minor in Human Rights. Serving as an Americorps member with City Year prior to her studies in a New York middle school. After graduation, she supported The Conference On Jewish Materials Claims Against Germany with hardship payments to Holocaust survivors around the world and archival research. While in Germany, Zoë would like to continue learning Yiddish and German, explore bakeries, and pet many dogs.

Patrick Wolff

Patrick Wolff graduated from Wesleyan University in May of 2021 with a double major in Economics and German Studies and a minor in Data Analysis. During his time in Germany, he intends to learn more about the world of German business through an internship with a consulting firm.

Viola Zhang

Viola Zhang graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Biological Engineering and M.Eng. in Materials Science and Engineering. She has been working at a KlimaEngineering firm and coral reef restoration non-profit. Viola intends to study and gain work experience in the interdisciplinary fields connecting sustainability in architecture, the built environment, biomaterials, and biodiversity conservation. She hopes to make a positive contribution to US-German relations and continue collaborations internationally.

North Carolina

Peyton Carrington

Peyton Carrington graduated in May 2021 with a degree in Communications and Event Management from High Point University. When she was not in class, you could find her volunteering with her service organization, working for her university's Concierge desk, or at the barn horseback riding for a local equestrian professional. Peyton enjoys being active and outdoor activities and often goes hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. During her time in Germany, she hopes to work in the tourism industry planning events. At the peak of Peyton's career, she envisions herself working with large international events, such as the Olympics. She looks forward to learning how to experience Germany through the lens of a local.

Quinton Moore

Quinton Dayne Moore graduated from North Carolina State University in 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in both Communication and German Studies. In 2019, he directed a 16mm short film, Lawn, which competed at both the 2020 Indie Grits Film Festival and the 2020 Raleigh Art & Film Festival. Currently, Quinton works at a local record store in Raleigh, North Carolina, but upon entering Germany, he hopes to pursue an education and internships in video production and film distribution. His dream is to work behind the scenes on a German-American co-produced feature film.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith graduated from The University of Alabama in Huntsville with degrees in Aerospace Engineering andGerman Language in 2021. Throughout his undergraduate career, Chris interned with The German Aerospace Center, Stewart-HaasRacing, and did propulsion research at UAH. He also served as a peer academic for 3 years at the UAH Student Success Centerproviding peer support to students of mathematics and physics. He hopes to pursue a career in the automotive engineeringindustry.


Benjamin Bryan

Benjamin Bryan recently graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor's degree in Geographic Information Science and a minor in German. He will be running his exterior painting business until he leaves for Germany in July. He intends to pursue an internship in the GIS and Urban Planning field. Benjamin hopes to study urban planning techniques throughout Germany and implement these ideas when he returns to the United States.

Fatima Dahir

Fatima (Fay) Dahir recently graduated from the Ohio State University with a double major in Public Affairs and Geography, as well as a research distinction in Geography. She will be working as an Ohio State tour guide and volunteering before leaving for Germany. Fatima plans to pursue an internship in immigration policy research and volunteer with migrant-facing organizations while in Germany. Once back in the United States, she intends to obtain a Ph.D. in either sociopolitical geography.


McKinleigh Lair

McKinleigh Lair is a documentary cinematographer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She currently freelances as a cameraperson and drone operator for Vice News and several feature-length documentary productions. While in Germany she plans to study advanced lighting techniques and continue meeting and collaborating with other nonfiction storytellers. As a Park Scholar at Ithaca College, she received her B.A. in Documentary Studies and Production, minored in Anthropology, and studied abroad in Seoul, London, and Jönköping, Sweden.


Alexander Allan

Alex Allan recently graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in Economics and a minor in German. He currently works as an analyst for a local bank in Biloxi until he leaves for Germany in July. Once in Germany, he plans on gaining experience with the German financial market. In the future, he hopes to use this experience to pursue a career in international banking.

Lucy Corlett

Lucy Corlett is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Urban Studies and a minor in Hispanic Studies. At Penn, Lucy was a Mayor’s Scholar, a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, and served as a Fellow in Urban Leadership at the Penn Institute Urban Research. She was also head writer of the nation’s first collegiate all-female sketch comedy troupe, Bloomers, and a coordinator of Penn’s student-run fossil fuel divestment campaign, Fossil Free Penn. Since graduation, she has been working for the City of Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs. As a CBYX fellow, Lucy is looking forward to improving her German and learning more about climate displacement, migration, and international climate policy.

Andrew Morgan

Andrew Morgan is a recent graduate from American University's School of International Service in Washington, D.C., where he received a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Economics (double major) and a minor in German Language. He was born in Germany due to being in a military family but has considered Pittsburgh his home since his high school years. His professional interests include international trade, transatlantic relations, supply chain management, consulting, and information services. During his fellowship with CBYX he aims to gain a deeper understanding of these topics and learn more about German culture, language, and society.

Puerto Rico

Noel Acevedo Guasp

Noel Acevedo Guasp recently completed his bachelor's degree at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras, with a double major in Economics and Foreign Languages. While in Germany, he plans to further his studies in Economics, focusing on Public Sector and Urban Economics, and gaining public policy experience in these areas through an internship. In the future, he plans on pursuing graduate studies in Urban Economics and Planning.

Rhode Island

Felix Torres

Felix Torres graduated from the University of Vermont in 2018 and worked for The New York Times until the start of CYBX. In Germany, he will explore and write about the experiences of migrants, the sexual expression of gay and queer groups, and the combined effect of these experiences on the process of building community in a setting with political tensions over immigration.

South Dakota

Gerald Fraas

Gerald Fraas is a 2019 graduate of the University of Alabama with degrees in Economics and Political Science. He will continue working for the Nebraska State Legislature until he leaves for Germany in July. He intends to pursue an internship with a firm focused on international trade/compliance or in the policy sector.


Marianne Perkins

Marianne E. Perkins recently graduated from East Tennessee State University Honors College with a double major in International Affairs and German Literature and Language. During her time at ETSU, she authored an undergraduate thesis on the topic of post-2015 refugee resettlement in Germany, and she intends to utilize the knowledge she has gained from writing her thesis in her search for an internship in Germany with a governmental or non-governmental organization specializing in assisting migrants. Once she returns to the United States after the completion of CBYX, she hopes to pursue a career in refugee and immigration policy.


Alexis Brandt

Alexis Brandt graduated from Texas A&M University in May 2020 with a bachelor's in landscape architecture and a minor in urban planning. After taking German in high school, doing research in the Netherlands with the Texas A&M PIRE Program, and completing a semester-long study abroad program in Germany during the fall of 2019, she is excited to return to Europe. Prior to leaving for the CBYX program, Alexis will be completing her first year in her first job post-graduation. She plans to use her time in Germany to deepen her understanding of how community engagement is used in the design and development of German landscapes.

Paige Censale

Paige Censale (19) is a 2019 graduate of Squalicum High School located in Bellingham, WA, and a student at El Paso Community College. Currently, Paige is the Communications Coordinator in El Paso, TX for the immigration nonprofit Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. For the past year and a half, she has served as a videographer, graphic designer, and photographer, documenting the work of immigration attorneys, advocates, and asylum seekers from all over the world. With her recent acceptance to the CBYX fellowship, she intends to pursue an internship in the journalism field in Germany, continuing her passion for documenting and sharing stories taking place in the world.

Karolyn Newton

Karolyn Newton graduated from St. Edward's University in 2019 with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy and a concentration in Sociology. Since then, she has worked on a sustainable urban farm addressing local food injustice and as an iRest instructor, providing a trauma-sensitive, evidence-based yoga Nidra protocol originally developed to help treat PTSD. In Germany, she intends to pursue a sustainable agriculture internship to gain experience with food production and German environmental policy. With a strong commitment to addressing historical and systemic inequities, she hopes to improve current food systems that threaten both ecological and human health by engaging with diverse cultures and traditions which offer different ways of relating to food, community, and the natural world.

Molly Wells

Molly Wells just graduated from Vanderbilt University with degrees in Religious Studies and German. She hopes to use her German language skills to facilitate interfaith dialoguduring her time with CBYX. Molly has lived all over the place but claims Bryn Mawr, PA as home. She enjoys reading, running, playing guitar and piano (much to the dismay of her family and roommates.), and all things yellow.


Allan Wheeler

Allan Wheeler graduated from Vermont Technical College in 2018 with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology. Since graduating in 2018 he has been working as an Engineer Technician under the Army Research and Engineering Development at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. He intends to pursue further education by studying Engineering within German and expanding his knowledge of the German language and culture. He hopes to take the connections he makes in Germany back to the United States and collaborate with German Engineers and Scientists as part of his career in research and engineering development.


Trevor Bailey

Trevor Bailey was born in the suburbs of Chicago and grew up in a rural part of Chesapeake, Virginia. In high school, he took German as a foreign language and fell in love with it. Trevor then continued to study the language in college at the University of Virginia where he secured two majors: one in German literature and the other in English. Now with the book closed on college, Trevor sets his sights on Germany where he would like to one day live, working as a lawyer or human resources manager.

Harrison Branner

Harrison Branner is from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where he spent his childhood raising bees and chickens among forested mountains and rolling cow fields. He graduated from Duke University in May 2020. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies, with a minor in German. When he was at Duke, he worked for the Duke Campus Farm, a sustainability internship, and a biology lab working on botanical and genetics research with ferns. He is very interested in sustainable energy practices and technology, and the American energy transition. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, beekeeping, and growing plants.

Charlotte Maskelony

Charlotte Maskelony recently graduated from Oberlin Conservatory with a major in Classical Vocal Performance and a minor in German. Currently, Charlotte works as Communications Associate at The Glimmerglass Festival, an opera company in upstate New York. She intends to pursue an internship in contemporary German opera to learn more about German opera and arts culture, and in the future hopes to write libretti, direct, and lead contemporary opera in the United States.


Sarah Arthur

Sarah Arthur graduated from Pepperdine University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies. Since graduating, she has worked in the entertainment industry in varying capacities at companies like A+E Networks, NBCUniversal, and WarnerMedia. Sarah plans on pursuing an internship at a film production company in Germany to learn more about the production process, and film from an international perspective. She has a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion and looks forward to producing and writing content that resonates with global audiences in the future.

Shannon Pierson

Shannon is a Research Intern at the Alliance for Securing Democracy. In this role, she works alongside a team of experts committed to defending democracy from malign actors. Her interests are situated at the nexus of disinformation, technology policy, and foreign affairs. Previously, she served as a research assistant at the Wilson Center to Disinformation Fellow Nina Jankowicz. Together, they tracked disinformation campaigns targeting women in public life, as well as envisioned policy solutions to stem the spread of disinformation. She’s consulted on multiple projects for the Microsoft Corporation’s Defending Democracy Program regarding international election security and internet governance treaties. Her writing has been published by the Wilson Center, Disability & Society, and the Jackson School of International Studies’ International Policy Institute. She holds a degree in International Studies from the University of Washington and will continue on to a master's in foreign service at Georgetown University in Fall 2022.

Jennafer Schweyen

Jennafer Schweyen just graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a B.S. in mathematics, a B.A. in German, and a minor in actuarial science. She intends to pursue an internship at a firm performing data analytics while in Germany. Following the CBYX program she plans to pursue a master's degree in mathematics.

Alumni Spotlight: Adapting to the Global Workplace, Virtually

Daeun Kim is one of the many interns within the Cultural Vistas network that had to change their plans and intern virtually instead of abroad. Read more about how she adapted to the new global workplace through her placement via Cultural Vistas’ Korea WEST program.

Hi Vistans! My name is Daeun Kim and I’m from South Korea. I am currently a senior majoring in English Literature at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea. I am interested in English and U.S. culture and want to know and experience life in America, so I applied for an exchange program and internship experience.

Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the exchange program was canceled, and the internship program changed to a 100% virtual program. I was disappointed at first; obviously, it would be great to go to America and work in a real office. But, rather than dwell on my misfortune, I changed my mind and became grateful for getting a chance to have such a new experience. So, I enrolled in The Washington Center and got ready to become a virtual intern. After having some interviews with advisors and companies, I connected with Cultural Vistas and started work as a virtual intern in February 2021.

I am very pleased to work with Cultural Vistas; the reception has been incredibly warm. They respected not just my time difference but also my culture. For example, in the very first week when I started work as an intern, it was time to celebrate the Lunar New Year. During this holiday, we visit our grandparents’ houses and meet with relatives to spend time together with a great deal of food. I did not expect that I could have a day off for the holiday, but thanks to the consideration of Cultural Vistas, I could go to my grandparents’ house and spend time with them without worry. It was very thoughtful and made me feel that I am respected.

In the beginning, especially before I got matched with a company, it was tough to adjust the time difference. The time difference between Seoul and Washington, D.C. is 13-14 hours, depending on the time of year. Most interviews and advising sessions took place for me from 12 AM to 4 AM KST. I was confused about time and exhausted from staying up too late or waking up so early. Three things were happening to me at that time; part-time job, placement of internship, and classes; it was kind of hectic. I had to gather myself together to ensure that I was not missing any events. And that made my calendar need to be super flashy. I wrote down all the deadlines of any materials that I needed to submit and virtual meetings on the same calendar using a variety of pens and color-coding

But, once I matched to the company, the chaotic days ended and I fully adapted. My supervisor understood my circumstances and scheduled meetings that worked for both of us. There were no more confusing timetables or waking up in the middle of the night.

Digesting English so early morning or late at night is hard; however, I tried to enjoy the moment. I

would find myself thinking, “this is fun and weird. Probably no one of my friends from Korea would have this kind of experience like me!”

In order to stay organized and focused, I have two laptops, a new one and an old one. I use the new laptop for doing work and assignments which are relevant to the internship program. And I do schoolwork and tasks outside of the internship with the older one. This division makes it possible to focus on one thing. It is a useful way for me to avoid distraction and confusion.

There is less pressure for getting up early and going to the office while working as a virtual intern, but at the same time, there is the uncertainty of what I am doing and anxiety about falling behind. To overcome these struggles, I give myself some time to recharge to focus on work with a clear mind. In addition, it is helpful to rotate projects, not just to adjust to the time difference but also to help me not get bored and escape from repetitive tasks. Additionally, I set aside my coffee time. It is a little thing, but I think it is important to start work with liveliness and feel motivated. I do miss chatting with coworkers over coffee at the office, however, it gives me time to focus entirely on myself and find some inner peace.

It is great that I can have fun and work as an intern at the same time. Interning at home makes it possible to focus on parts of my life that I have neglected before. Now, I value this moment so much and am thankful for having this experience.


Cultural Vistas’ June/July Newsletter

Last week, the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship program came to a close, following a 37-year run supporting and inspiring over 500 accomplished professionals from the United States to strengthen friendship and understanding between the U.S. and Germany. Cultural Vistas has worked with the Robert Bosch Foundation as its partner during this entire period, supporting the aim of advancing transatlantic relations.

To reflect on this moment in history, I reached out to members from the first cohort who went to West Germany in 1984. It was a time when the Allied and Russian forces still occupied East and West Germany, Helmut Kohl was the Chancellor, the Green Party had just emerged on the national stage, and the Opel Kadett was named European Car of the Year. I also received feedback from Fellows who just completed their Fellowship amidst the world’s worst pandemic in 100 years, the first female German Chancellor announcing her retirement after 15 years in office, and the world celebrating the 30th anniversary of German unification.

I asked a few alumni from both the first and the last cohort to reflect on what the program meant for them personally and professionally, how it advanced the transatlantic relationship, and their responsibility for alumni and Cultural Vistas to carry on the legacy. Here’s what they said:

Jackie Renner, Bosch I
“For me, the program broadened my understanding and network at an early stage of my career, so it was very formative, and the connections became very important. As I have seen the Bosch I group evolve over the years, I have been blessed with the friendship of the group and have been witness to their commitments and impact to the transatlantic relationship.”

Peter Bird: Bosch XXXVII
“Spending a year in Berlin with my wife and son during a pandemic was a major endeavor. While it was more difficult to cultivate the same type of professional relations as I would have in an office, I did get a glimpse into a Berlin that no one else gets to see: a quiet, introverted one trying to navigate COVID. That said, my wife and I have both been offered permanent jobs here, our son is thriving in a 100% German daycare, and we’re excited to stay in Berlin for longer. I think, in time, I’ll come to regard my Bosch year as a year both of introspection and personal and professional inflection when we first became acquainted with our new home.”

As I reflect on this milestone, I can’t help but ask: what should the next iteration of a transatlantic exchange program look like, given the needs and environment in which we operate?

  • Should it be multilateral?
  • Should it be a year, a month, a decade?
  • What role should technology play?
  • Who should the target audience be?

These are some of the questions we need your help with answering and supporting. We have so many lessons to learn from the last 37 years to help inform the decades to come. We need your help in shaping what comes next.

Please view Cultural Vistas’ Case for Support today, which provides a blueprint of the areas in which we need your support and partnership.

With gratitude,

Dr. Jennifer Clinton
President & CEO | Cultural Vistas


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News + Blog 
Introducing the 2021 Class of Edmund S. Muskie Interns

The Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program is excited to announce the 2021 Class of Muskie Interns! These students are distinguished participants of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, completing internships with host companies across the United States.
Cultural Vistas has built upon that foundation by providing hands-on, professional skill-building opportunities across the United States for nearly 300 graduate students over the last seven years. View the Press Release


The transatlantic exchange program ‘(DAICOR) New transatlantic synergies: Building a Diverse and Inclusive Culture of Remembrance’ is a joint program by Cultural Vistas gGmbH and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Washington DC, and is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The program will examine: treatment of memorials and cultural heritage with legacies from the times of slavery and colonialism to renaming of streets, schools, public places, and military bases and questions of provenance. View the Press Release

Program Updates 

Internship Abroad

Running on the success of the Virtual Internship Corps, the Internships Abroad team placed 15+ university students at remote internships with German host companies. These students came from our long-established internship programs with the University of Michigan, College of Charleston, and James Madison University. Despite pandemic restrictions, placements were secured with great companies like the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Humanity in Action, and the Green Party of Bavaria.

YSEALI Seeds for the Future
Projects in Full Swing!

Meet project Kilang ReRoot from Brunei. The team is aiming to raise awareness about food consumption and waste through educational workshops and food upcycling projects. Project Kayamanan is from the Philippines, the team is creating online peer-to-peer financial education programs for public high school students. Project PantiCT is helping orphanage residents in Indonesia to develop their communication and technology skills by providing tech-based training and certification programs.

Korea West
The 2020 Korea WEST virtual program is underway as participant interviews concluded last week.  The program will begin remotely in August where students will participate in English language training in South Korea.  Additionally, they will receive business culture sessions on interviewing skills, US vs Korean business culture, and tips for successful remote work.  From November to January they will complete their internships remotely from South Korea and complete the AFS Global Competence Certificate (GCC).

Follow @CulturalVistas on Twitter for live updates and in the meantime, learn more about the program here.

Giving Spotlight: CBYX Host Family in Andover, MA

Pictured: Louis Markus, 2016 CBYX participant with the family on a visit to Germany in 2018

Name: Sarah Blumenstock Girrell, Kris Girrell + their son, Jesse Girrell

Occupation: Business owner

Location: North of Boston in Andover, MA

Relationship to Cultural Vistas: Sarah, Kris and Jesse have been a full-time Host Family since 2014, having hosted 8 on the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals program for a full year.


Within the Cultural Vistas international community of participants, alumni, host companies and families, cross-cultural connections abound. Our programs facilitate professional experiences across the globe and allow participants to meet people from all backgrounds whether at school, at work, or at home. The experience of hosting an exchange student is one that Sarah and her family weren’t so sure about at first.


Pictured: CBYX participant Thani Nguyen (Thanh Ha) with the family

Eleven years ago, Sarah received a call from her friend who is an alumna of the CBYX for Young Professionals exchange program. When Cultural Vistas was looking for people to host participants on short term stays of 2-3 day visits, she suggested Sarah give it a try. Sarah was excited, but the idea of taking someone into their home made her husband a bit nervous. But that’s where the power of positive exchange comes into play. This could be a good experience for their 12 year old son, Jesse, an only child. So, in 2010, they welcomed the first of many exchange students to their home.


By 2012, they became a full-time host family, welcoming German CBYX participants for a full year and have added to their transatlantic family every year since. They will become even more a part of our exchange world this summer when Jesse, who is now 23, will head to Germany as an American participant of the CBYX for Young Professionals program.


We interviewed Sarah about her experience as a host-mom and what she’s learned along the way: 

Pictured: CBYX participant 2019-2020 Melli Riner

Why do you think it is important for people to live with a family while experiencing a new culture? The international aspect is so interesting. People do things differently, but people are actually the same. You really see this by experiencing it together, having cultural experiences like Christmas in a different home, eating meals with new ingredients, navigating relationships–it enriches your life.

“I love the world we show them and I love the world they introduce us to.”
– Sarah Blumenstock Girrell


What are some things that have surprised you about your exchange “children”?

German kids don’t know how to write a check! They are amazed when filling up gas and marvel at how big the cars are. Also – every one of the kids who has come to stay with us has been told that Americans just eat fast food and an unhealthy diet and are surprised by how healthy we eat. I always take them to the grocery store the first week they arrive so they can show me what they like to eat and I can help them find what they are looking for. Mostly, I notice that having come from multi-generational homes and being older than the average American when finishing high school, they are eager to learn, grow,  give and be part of the family.

Pictured: Our first! Lukas Jetter on his wedding day to Maren in 2018 that we were invited to.

What advice would you give to those interested in hosting international participants? Each kid has brought so much to our life, there’s a lot of love there. You help raise them. It’s a relationship for the long-term. We hosted the parents of one of our children while on vacation in the U.S., went to the wedding of one host son in Germany, and kept in touch with them all. My advice to potential host families is to be flexible. We were supposed to have a participant stay with us in 2020, but the arrangement was canceled due to the pandemic. Luckily, we are expecting to find out this June who we are hosting next at the same time seeing our son off to Germany where he already has a family waiting to welcome him.



To learn more about opportunities to host a CBYX for Young Professionals exchange participant, contact Max Flescher: