Eight Ways We Fulfilled Our Mission in 2019

It has been a busy year for our team and for all Cultural Vistans—what we view as our larger global community of exchange alumni, hosts, partners, and supporters throughout the world.

As I reflect on 2019, I am filled with immense pride for the impact we continue to make on the lives and careers of thousands of individuals and sincere gratitude for all those who make this impact possible.

This year, we have made incredible strides and successfully laid a deep and strong foundation that will allow us to expand and extend our global influence in 2020 and beyond.

Below I am pleased to share a glimpse into the thousands of lives we influenced and what we accomplished together with your support throughout 2019:

We invested in the next generation of change makers.

Alexandra, Alondra, Daniel, Josh, and Katherine.

Katy, Mahala, Malia, Mari, and Nicolas.

Nohelya, Nuh, Sarah, Stephanie, and Tyler.

Fifteen students. Three countries. Two months. One life-changing summer.

The 2019 Cultural Vistas Fellows are a diverse group of young, talented, and motivated young leaders who returned to their campuses this fall after spending eight weeks interning in Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Hong Kong with new skills, connections, and confidence in their ability to thrive outside their comfort zone.

Thanks to the continued support and generosity of our donor community, this year marked the program’s seventh and largest class of fellows to date.

Photos: View the Cultural Vistas Fellowship Through the Years

This is just one example of how we are removing obstacles confronted by young people and investing in their skill and leadership development to unleash their full potential. Whether in the United States or across the Asia Pacific, we believe this is an invaluable investment in better future for all.

We provided new skills and perspectives to thousands of individuals and organizations.

This year, I am particularly proud of our collective accomplishments in providing high-quality exchange experiences for 6,025 participants from 95 different countries.

Our unique portfolio of professionally-focused programs continues to prove mutually beneficial to the lives and careers of our exchange participants and alumni, as well as to the organizations who host them.

There are few better examples of this in practice than at Siemens Healthineers, a world leader in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, and health information technology and the recipients of Cultural Vistas’ 2019 Corporate Leadership Award.

In our work together over the past decade, Siemens Healthineers has consistently represented the very best in international exchange as they strive to train, educate, and prepare the next generation of scientists.

From Intern to Professional: Reflecting on My U.S. Exchange Experience with Siemens Healthineers

We brought the world to American classrooms.

It is more important than ever for students to understand and appreciate diverse cultures and perspectives while understanding how events around the world are interconnected.

Through our Teach USA exchange program and people like Manuel Cases, a Spanish teacher at The San Francisco School, or Ianpol Canlas, a native of the Philippines teaching at The Hope School in Arkansas, we continue to bring new ideas, new languages, and new ways of thinking to K-12 classrooms across the United States.

Over the course of 2019, our exchange teachers, representing 24 different countries, played an important role in the lives of American students in 170 schools across 26 U.S. states

In November, our exchange interns, trainees, and alumni got into the act as we continued the now 11-year tradition of hosting cultural presentations in New York City public schools during International Education Week.

We recognized leadership in advancing global skills and understanding.

More than 300 alumni, partners, and leaders from across the business, education, government, and diplomatic communities were on hand for our signature event of 2019, the Cultural Vistas Awards Gala, on October 17 in Lower Manhattan.

Our distinguished list of #CVGala speakers and honorees included celebrated novelist and keynote Richard C. Morais; Siemens Healthineers; Alaina Percival, Women Who Code CEO and a 2003-04 CBYX for Young Professional participant; Aushim Merchant, a YSEALI alumnus and environmental leader, and a quintet of partners cited for their contributions to the U.S.-Japan Friendship.

There was, perhaps, no more memorable moment than when Malia Simon, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe and Navajo Nation from Bloomfield, New Mexico, graced the stage.

In a passionate speech, Malia highlighted her Native American lineage and shared the profound impact her summer in Hong Kong as a Cultural Vistas Fellow has made on her future personal and professional aspirations.

We convened a transatlantic dialogue and forged new connections for women in business.

The importance of connection and building relationships cannot be overstated. Time and again, women do not receive the same access to the business connections and opportunities needed to succeed.

That was a major impetus for the 2019 USA-Central Europe Women in Business Summit, which we hosted in October in partnership with the Polish & American Women Entrepreneurs Association and with the support of diplomatic missions in the U.S. representing the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

More than 300 attendees took part in this day-long transatlantic dialogue, which kicked off with an inspiring keynote from Laura Maness, CEO of Havas New York.

The special event also included a dynamic series of discussions featuring leading women from Google, LinkedIn, Morgan Stanley, IBM, Women Who Code, and several innovative Central European startups and female founders, such as Polish scientist and innovator Magda Kordon.

We provided an authentic lens into the American experience.

Understanding there is no ‘one size fits all’ path to success was a major takeaway for the female Japanese university students we welcomed to the U.S. this spring as part of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program. Read more about their experience

Whether it’s a young German woman learning about learning about the diversity of American society which sometimes eludes many Americans aspiring female architects from Kuwaiti helping design the Windy City, or a Brazilian pharmaceutical sciences expert embracing American values through an un-American pastime, no two exchange experiences are the same.

Through living with an American host family, volunteering at events like the NYC Marathon or “Exchange Day”, or taking part in cultural activities to learn about our history, the learning that takes place on our exchange programs extends far beyond the workplace.

This was echoed by Izabela and Christof, two Cultural Vistas participants who were recently interviewed on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered about experiencing the quintessential American holiday of Thanksgiving for the first time.

We engaged our exchange alumni in exciting new ways.

This year, we continued to advance our efforts to connect, support, and engage our ever-expanding roster of 150,000-plus exchange alumni in the United States and over 150 countries around the world.

In March, more than 80 alumni from 12 countries across Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus came together in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) for the first Edmund S. Muskie Alumni Conference. In addition to city tours, cultural activities, and advanced skills training, the focus was to expand networks for Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program alumni.

Representatives from local organizations, members of the media, as well as staff from the U.S. Embassy, including the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan William H. Moser joined our Muskie alumni at this inaugural event. Check out local coverage from the event in The Astana Times.

2019 marked the 15th anniversary of the Alfa Fellowship Program to Russia. To mark the occasion, program alumni and staff came together at a special reception at the Art Museum of the Americas in November. See more photos

As the year neared its close, our team headed to Japan to host the Advancing Long-term Leadership Initiative Indo Pacific Summit together with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

#ExchangeAlumni from across the #IndoPacific were in #Tokyo for the Advancing Long-term Leadership Initiative Indo Pacific Summit. 44 young leaders from 16 countries expanded their networks & collaborated on common issues facing the region. #ALLISummit #YSEALI #Tomodachi

— EAP Bureau (@USAsiaPacific) December 16, 2019

Your support means the world to us.

All together now! After a memorable evening celebrating our mission at October’s #CVGala, Cultural Vistas staff gathered for a team photo.

As we look towards the new year, we thank you again for being part of our journey. It is your commitment and passion that brings our mission to life to every day.

We have ambitious plans for 2020 and we hope you’ll continue to be a part of them. There is so much more we can do, together.

As 2019 comes to a close, please consider joining our growing group of monthly contributors or making a year-end gift to support our work to enrich minds and advance global skills.

Every gift, no matter the size, makes a difference.

Make a Year-End Gift to Support Our Mission