Program Development and Custom Exchanges

At Cultural Vistas, we pride ourselves on creating new and dynamic means of increasing cultural understanding through our wide array of grant programs, civic-minded projects, and collaborative initiatives.

In addition to managing existing programs within our portfolio, we are dedicated to creating new offerings that align with our mission, highlight organizational strengths, and expand our impact. We specialize in seeking out new opportunities that encompass our primary focus areas:

  • Experiential Education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • STEM
  • Tackling Underrepresentation
  • Youth Programming

Cultural Vistas thoughtfully designs exchange programs tailored to the individual project goals of its partners. If your organization is interested in partnering with us on your next exchange program, please contact us

Our Work

We strive to deliver high-impact educational and professional exchange programs that are designed and administered with the utmost professionalism, and that serve a wide range of stakeholders, from foreign professionals to American students and embassies abroad.

Below is a compilation of some recent customized exchanges, professional study tours, and initiatives designed and administered by our team.

TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program U.S. Tour

Year(s): 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014
Location: United States 
Clients: U.S. Embassy, Tokyo; MetLife, Inc.; U.S.-Japan Council

Understanding there is no “one size fits all’ path to success has been one of the major takeaways for the over 110 first and second-year female Japanese university students we have welcomed to the United States as part of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program since 2014.

As part of this 10-month mentorship initiative, launched by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the TOMODACHI Initiative, and sponsored and supported by MetLife Inc., Cultural Vistas has organized diverse weeklong itineraries focused on how women achieve success in the modern economy that have connected these students with female leaders across sectors in New York City and Washington, D.C. to inspire the confidence to push past long-held gender norms.

Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI)

Cultural Vistas, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and U.S. embassies in Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, has designed and implemented four mixed-format workshops and regional exchanges to foster deeper understanding of environmental challenges across the ASEAN region, and build the networking and leadership skills of Southeast Asian youth to collaborate and craft innovative solutions.

YSEALI Generation: Oceans
Year(s): 2016
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Clients: U.S. Embassy, Jakarta
Creating Solutions to Ocean Issues

In March 2016, the YSEALI Generation: Oceans regional exchange brought together 64 young leaders from across the region for a four-day event focused on developing paths to policy, technical, and civil society solutions for the region’s most serious ocean issues. The workshop included lectures on regional and global marine and coastal issues, interactive discussions, and a beach clean-up activity. The young leaders were split into 16 multinational teams and were tasked with creating and pitching action plans to address the issues explored at the workshop. The two winning teams earned the opportunity to take part in a two-week U.S. study tour in September to network and learn about American perspectives to ocean conservation, and to further advance their projects.

YSEALI Generation: Earth
Year(s): 2015
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Clients: U.S. Embassy, Phnom Penh
Environmental Changemakers

In April 2015, the YSEALI Generation: Earth regional exchange brought together more than 100 young leaders representing all 10 ASEAN member nations in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The four-day event was a unique opportunity for these passionate youth to build leadership skills, engage in networking opportunities, and grow under the mentorship of American and Southeast Asian environmental leaders in order to effectively address issues across the region. It included a series of interactive lectures and seminars, as well as opportunities to see firsthand the impact of climate change through a series of field trips and site visits. The exchange culminated with the issuance of seed grants to implement action plans developed during the workshop, a three-week environmental-focused U.S. study tour, and fall internships in Washington, D.C. for two workshop participants.

Celebrate the Connections: U.S.-India Urban Arts Exchange

Year(s): 2016
Location: India
Clients: U.S. Embassy, New Delhi

Great art inspires and transcends cultures. That was a resounding takeaway from Celebrate the Connections, a 15-day creative arts exchange that sent six U.S. artists to India for a teaching, learning, and performance tour across four cities: New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, and Kolkata. The program was designed to foster cross-cultural dialogue and inspire creative collaboration between artist communities in India and the United States, using the growing global influence of the urban arts as a common thread. The participating artists represented a wide range of urban art forms, including spoken word and poetry, graffiti and visual art, rhythm and percussion, and a variety of dance styles.

While in India, they taught workshops, collaborated with Indian artists, and held performances at schools, community centers, and arts organizations. The program concluded in New Delhi with a special performance at the American Center at the U.S. Embassy. In May 2016, Cultural Vistas brought the artists back together in Washington, D.C. for an event to unveil a documentary about their experience, as well as to share art and deliver performances inspired by the trip.

Additional Recent Initiatives have included:

Russian Business Exchange and Student Training (2016)

RBEST ExchangeYear(s): 2016
Location: United States
Client: U.S. Embassy, Moscow

In 2016, Cultural Vistas began implementing the Russian Business Exchange and Student Training (RBEST) program, a private-sector exchange, funded by a grant from the Embassy of the United States in Moscow, to strengthen business-to-business ties between Russia and the United States. RBEST offered skilled Russian young professionals the opportunity to complete a 4-6 month internship or training program at U.S. host organizations.

The program began with virtual activities and an orientation seminar in Moscow, followed by 4-to-6 month placements that our staff secured by matching the individual participants with U.S. hosts seeking to advance relations with Russia.

Wanhua Chemical Group International Internship Program (2016 + 2015)

WanhuaYear(s): 2016, 2015
Location: United States
Client: Wanhua Chemical Group Co., Ltd

Wanhua Chemical, of Yantai, China, recently established U.S. operations and opened offices in Philadelphia, Houston, and Columbus, Ohio. As part of its expansion into the U.S. market, it has invested in sending several of its front-line managers to the U.S. for a three-month experience to learn about the American workforce.

To support this effort, Cultural Vistas has arranged an exchange program that includes English language classes, seminars and site visits, and two-month internships designed to help these individuals better understand how to manage and motivate the American workforce they will someday supervise.

U.K. Climate and Energy Leaders (2015)

UK Climate GroupYear(s): 2015
Location: United States
Clients: U.S. Embassy, London

In July 2015, Cultural Vistas welcomed climate and renewable energy leaders from the United Kingdom for a two-week professional visit to learn about American efforts to combat climate change. Emphasizing the important to look at the work taking place at the state level, they came to understand how technology is transforming the way Americans produce and consume energy.

Leaders met and engaged with a variety of organizations and institutions, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York City’s Office of Sustainability, City of Fort Collins Climate Hub, and the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, and returned home with a more nuanced view of American efforts in the climate space, as well as with new ideas and expanded networks for future cooperation.

Thai Political Leaders for Professional Exchange Program (2015)

Year(s): 2015
Location: United States
Client: U.S. Embassy, Bangkok

In November 2015, Cultural Vistas designed and implemented a 10-day visit for 10 rising political leaders from Thailand focused on preparations for the U.S. presidential election. This initiative focused on examining the U.S. primary system and election process, including political party management and conflict, anti-voter fraud mechanisms, social media outreach, and other digital campaign tools.

The 10 leaders represented four different political parties in Thailand, including the Peua Thai Party, the Democrat Party, and non-partisan observers, including a member of Thailand’s Election Commission.

U.K. Young Muslim Leaders Exchange (2015 +2014)

Young Muslim Leaders ExchangeYear(s): 2015, 2014
Location: United States
Client: U.S. Embassy, London

More than 30 Muslim university students and community leaders from the United Kingdom have explored faith, diversity, and leadership development in the United States during three Cultural Vistas-led initiatives sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in London over the past few years. Our staff has designed short-term tours that highlight the diversity of the United States, its system of government, its for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and its education system, as well as examples of our culture of volunteerism, optimism, and the many ways in which we practice and show our faiths.

Participants engaged with peers through interfaith dialogue sessions and completed workshops to further enhance their leadership skills. The student leaders also engaged with a variety of organizations and Muslim leaders from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, San Francisco, and Chicago.

American Youth Leadership Program (2014, 2012, 2011)

AYLP 2014Year(s): 2014, 2012, 2011
Location: Japan, Malaysia, Singapore
Client(s): U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

More than 65 American high school students (ages 15-17) and several teachers have been introduced to the people, cultures, and ecology of Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore with a specific focus on these nations’ approaches to sustainable development through Cultural Vistas’ work administering the American Youth Leadership Program, supported by grants from the U.S. Department of State.

These initiatives included four months of virtual learning engagement, three-week study tours in Asia, which included educational, cultural, and community service activities, lectures, sightseeing, and homestays; followed by post-program service projects implemented by all participants within their local communities involving the skills and knowledge acquired during the exchange.

Our Team

Dan Ewert, VP for Program Research, Partnerships, + Innovation

Dan EwertDan serves as the Vice President for Program Research, Partnerships and Innovation, and the National Secretary of the United States affiliate of the International Association of the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE).

He has been with the organization since 1994, including stints as Director of Career Development Exchanges, Director of Program Development and Vice President of Programs and Sales.

Previously, Dan served as the Director of Internships for The Washington Center, where he managed the organization’s business, economics, health and science placements, and was a teaching associate for its foreign policy seminars. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member for the organization since 1991, co-leading a college-level course on research methodology and writing.

Additionally, Dan has been a student advisor at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Director of Personnel for Federal Business Centers in Edison, New Jersey.

Dan also currently acts as the Treasurer and founding member of the Board of Directors of the Global Pathways Project, a non-profit organization that helps expose inner-city Baltimore youth to international events and opportunities.

He has presented at a number of national conferences of NAFSA, the American Society of Experiential Education, the Clean Energy Workforce Education Council, the American Academy of Science, the Cooperative Education International Association, the Chilean-American Chamber of Commerce, AMCHAM Brazil, AMCHAM Vietnam, NAFSA’s Embassy Dialogue Committee, the National Society for Experiential Education, and the Intercultural Management Institute.

Dan holds a masters degree in geography from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Asian studies from American University in Washington, D.C.

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Courtney Nelson, Director

Courtney NelsonCourtney serves as Cultural Vistas’ Director of Program Development and Placement Services, designing and implementing innovative international exchange programs and advocating for cross-cultural engagement.

Courtney previously managed the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program, a summer internship program funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by Cultural Vistas, providing Fulbright leaders from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia with professional development in an American workplace. This included sourcing summer internship placements as well as orientation events, virtual programming, and a closing seminar for participants to share work experiences and support career development.

Before coming to Cultural Vistas, Courtney worked at the U.S. Department of State managing programs for the Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, promoting civil society engagement and public diplomacy. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Conflict Resolution from American University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Texas A&M University.

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Sarah Bashaw, Assistant Director

Sarah BashawSarah serves as the assistant director within Cultural Vistas’ program development department where she helps manage new programs and oversees the Japan Internship for the Development of Young Leaders Program (IDYL).

Joining Cultural Vistas in 2013, she administered the Kizuna Project, which brought Japanese university students directly impacted by the 2011 Great Earthquake and Tsunami to the U.S. for cultural exchange and short-term internships. She also served as program officer supporting the Korea WEST Program, successfully managing orientations, streamlining program components, and liaising with over 200 host organizations and participants.

Before coming to Cultural Vistas, Bashaw taught English to Japanese youth outside of Tokyo for two years followed by managing volunteer services at the Fells historic estate and garden. She knows the first-hand impact of international exchange through living in the United Kingdom for seven years and graduating from international high school.

Bashaw graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and minor in Pre-Medicine.

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Aaron Eisenberg, Program Officer

Aaron EisenbergAaron leads the organization’s embassy initiatives, where he designs, creates and implements short-term innovative programs and workshops for U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

He has led two Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Regional Workshops. In April 2015, he administered YSEALI Generation: Earth in Siem Reap, Cambodia focused on environmental advocacy, and in March 2016 he administered YSEALI Generation: Oceans in Jakarta, Indonesia. Both programs featured participants from all 10 ASEAN countries along with the United States and worked to develop action plans to combat climate change.

In 2014, he supported the American Youth Leadership Program in Singapore and Malaysia focused on environmental sustainability. His efforts in the region led him to be invited to attend a White House town hall discussion on youth development in Southeast Asia hosted by President Obama. In the U.S. he has led programs for U.S. embassies on issues ranging from inclusive societies to climate change to journalism.

Aaron graduated from University of Rochester with a bachelor of arts in history and minors in international relations and Italian and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the CUNY Graduate Center in Migration and Global Cities focusing on climate issues. He is a member of Global Kids Young Professionals Committee.

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Chauna Martinez, Program Officer

Chauna MartinezChauna designs and implements short-term international exchanges, including for U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and U.S. Embassies worldwide.

Martinez has worked with exchange programs for more than three years and has in-depth experience with the International Visitor Leadership Program, the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program , and the Study of the U.S. Institutes.

Before coming to Cultural Vistas, she supported the Global Connections department at FHI 360, and previously interned at Make-A-Wish Foundation and the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth. With a master’s degree in Human Rights from the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Martinez specializes in policy in Western Europe and children’s rights.

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Rachel Reed, Program Officer

Rachel ReedRachel serves as a program officer for the Japan Internship for the Development of Young Leaders Program (IDYL) and the program development team.

In this role, she coordinates with our partners in Japan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to implement Japan IDYL, a U.S.-Japan exchange program providing Japanese students and researchers with the opportunity to come to the United States to complete professional internships.

Reed also works with our office in Berlin to facilitate the Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange Program, a U.S.-German exchange program for integration practitioners.

Prior to joining Cultural Vistas, Reed lived in Akita, Japan for three years and worked as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. She has also held two separate positions at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. as a diplomatic assistant in the political section for two years and also as the review committee liaison for the JET office processing over 4000 applications. She has served as a member of the JET review committee every year since 2013 and she is the current social chair of the JET Alumni Association of Washington, D.C.

Reed graduated magna cum laude from Gettysburg College with a bachelor’s in Japanese studies. As a student, she studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan for two semesters.

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Phoebe Heibeck, Assistant Program Officer

Phoebe works as an assistant program officer within the Cultural Vistas’ program development department, assisting and supporting operations for international exchange programs with U.S. Embassies and other entities worldwide.

Phoebe has extensive experience in public affairs and program management. Before joining Cultural Vistas in 2017, Phoebe worked for Catholic Relief Services, an international development and humanitarian aid agency in Baltimore, Maryland. In this role, she implemented and supported outreach programs in the United States, working with offices in 101 countries around the world. Prior to her international development work, she served as a campaign manager in Missouri and in many different capacities at the university level working one-on-one with students.

Heibeck graduated from Saint Louis University (Go Billikens!) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and international studies. As a student she studied in Madrid, Spain for a semester, where she also had the opportunity to volunteer with the U.S. Embassy.

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