2024 Muskie Orientation

Washington, D.C. (May 31, 2024) – 42 participants gathered for the two-day orientation event of the
Edmund S. Muskie Professional Fellowship Program help in Washington, D.C. on May 16-17.
In its 10th year of programming, the Edmund S. Muskie Professional Fellowship Program, funded by the
U.S. Department of State and implemented by Cultural Vistas, gives Fulbright Program emerging leaders
from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia the opportunity to gain real-world experience that
complements and enriches their graduate studies in the U.S.

Figure 1: Muskie Fellows pose for a picture with the Washington Monument in the background during their bus tour.

The Muskie Fellowship Program partners with various host organizations that reflect its Fellows’ ideals
and interests. The program introduces emerging young leaders to the U.S. workplace who can bring the
knowledge they obtain back to their home communities. The program will send 45 Muskie Fellows to 15
states, including Washington D.C., New York, Texas, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Arizona, Oregon, and
more. Fellows will intern at diverse host organizations, including U.N. Women, the World Bank, the
Library of Congress, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), the International Bar
Association, and many more!

Participants representing nine (Muskie) program countries from Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the
Caucasus participated in programming catered towards preparing them for professional development
while pursuing internships this summer. The event centered on building upon the Fellows’ hard and soft
skills before embarking on their three-month internship experiences. The Fellows also learned more
about the importance of giving back to their host communities, improving their networking skills, and reflecting on their personal and professional goals while starting a new journey. The Muskie team
highlighted all the opportunities they would have to share these experiences with the wider community
during the summer.

Figure 2: Muskie Fellows listen to programming at the Orientation event.

The program started with a welcome by the Muskie team, followed by a quick icebreaker to encourage
participants to meet new people. Afterward, Muskie participants discovered various ways to volunteer
during the summer to meet the Muskie Program’s requirement of public service to their host
communities. Megan Curran (Capital Area Food Bank) enlightened participants on food scarcity in the
D.C. area and nationally, sharing how they could help at local food banks across the country. Janelle
Carlson and Samantha Wessel (United Way) shared how volunteering helps their mission of improving
lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world. James Pierce (National Parks
Service) also joined, sharing his story of serving in the Army and how that led to his work of encouraging
people to volunteer at national parks.

Aside from the orientation meetings, the Fellows explored D.C. through a guided bus tour to the
National Mall, with sightseeing opportunities at the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol.
Participants learned about the historical significance of American leaders like Abraham Lincoln and
important civil rights events like Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Figure 3: Muskie Fellows pose to take a photo at the Orientation Reception.

The program ended with an evening reception for participants to share program reflections through informal conversations with Cultural Vistas staff, Muskie program alums, and representatives from the Institute of International Education and the Department of State. Jung Lim, Vice President of Programs & Impact and Dan Ewert, Senior Vice President of Program Research & Development at Cultural Vistas, gave speeches highlighting the importance of being your best self and why the core values of the program’s namesake, Edmund S. Muskie, matter, stating, “We want you to exhibit these values during your fellowships, and afterward as well. The skills you gain, connections you build in the U.S. during your internships, and the connections with the Muskie network will all be important for creating positive change in the future.”