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Foundation
Christianson Fellowship

Impact

Impressions from 2023

We are grateful to our global community encompassing our program participants, alumni, partnering organizations, American host employers, host families, host communities, and our dedicated staff, for their commitment and support in achieving our mission — promoting cross-cultural awareness and understanding through our international work, learning, and volunteer exchange programs. Our supporters’ unwavering commitment amplifies the impact of our exchange programs and cultural initiatives, fostering a world where people-to-people connections, understanding, and cultural exchange thrive.

2023 AFSWT Seminar - NYC

Celebrating our participants

Monica P. from South Africa, Au Pair USA

Monica P.

South Africa, Au Pair USA
I have taught my host kids a few Afrikaans words ‘Jy is goed en perfek’, which means ‘you are good and perfect’; ‘lekker’, which means ‘nice’ and ‘shap’, which is a greeting ‘hello/ goodbye’, as well as made them some desserts we make back home in South Africa.
Jordan W. from the United Kingdom, Career Training USA

Jordan W.

United Kingdom, Career Training USA
I feel I have been able to go above and beyond what I set out to achieve so far in my training with Berkeley Lab. I have learned many industry standards and leading practices in software development, technical writing, and data science… [Training] at Berkeley Lab has given me an opportunity to significantly improve my software engineering portfolio and pick up useful and necessary agile development practices to succeed in my field of education and work.
Amairani Rosales S. from Mexico, Camp USA

Amairani Rosales S.

Mexico, Camp USA
Being part of a Summer Camp Staff this 2023 had to be the most amazing experience I ever had. The work was hard but really meaningful, my camp was amazing and I made a lot of great memories and friends. Thanks InterExchange for letting me be part of this journey!
Ilie Alexandru N. from Romania, Work & Travel USA

Ilie Alexandru N.

Romania, Work & Travel USA
I have been impressed by the warm and welcoming nature of the American people. Whether it’s striking up conversations with strangers, receiving assistance from locals, or being part of community events, I have been fortunate to experience the legendary American hospitality firsthand.
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Celebrating our hosts

Cobie’s Restaurant on Cape Cod

Rob S.

Owner, Cobie’s Restaurant on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Work & Travel USA host employer
Our Work & Travel USA crew is great! We are lucky to have such fine guests in our country. Hard-working, intelligent and very decent in every possible way…. I am sending them all to the Beyoncé concert tonight at Gillette Stadium, and they could not be more excited! They are the best of the best!
Adam G., Host Family in New York

Adam G.

Host Family in New York, Au Pair USA
We had nannies before and it’s a very different experience. It was a job for them, but with the au pairs they became part of the family. There’s a level of trust. There’s an integration with the family. That’s the best part.
Jorge V. N., Account Executive, Mediapro U.S. in Florida

Jorge V. N.

Account Executive, Mediapro U.S. in Florida, Career Training USA host employer
I think that it is a good way for employees to learn about different cultures and the ways that each one of them works. This enriches the employees and therefore the company.
Pat G., Director, Lions Camp Badger

Pat G.

Director, Lions Camp Badger in New York, Camp USA host employer
Our 2023 season was very successful, largely due to the amazing counselors who were part of our camp family. Our international staff members brought an energy to camp that made it a richer experience for everyone. Even on the most challenging days, they gave 100% and created an environment full of positivity and support.
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Celebrating our team

Theresa

Theresa Edwards

Director of Field Services, Au Pair USA
Our Au Pair USA annual conference in Savannah, Georgia was a meaningful experience for our entire team this year! It created an opportunity for staff, Local Coordinators, Leadership Team members, and International Cooperators to come together in person for the first time since 2020 to network, share best practices and participate in professional development events. We look forward to doing it again in April 2024 in Austin, TX!
Julia Bates, Program Manager, Camp USA

Julia Bates

Program Manager, Camp USA
This summer I got a chance to go to my own camp’s reunion. It was fun catching up with everyone there, including an InterExchange alum! We placed Opi-Hana J. from the United Kingdom at Keystone Camp in North Carolina in 2018, and she returned there in 2019. I was so thrilled that Opi-Hana came to the reunion, it was a really fun full circle moment for me.
Becky Davis, Regional Manager, Work & Travel USA

Becky Davis

Regional Manager, Work & Travel USA
As a Regional Manager for the Midwest, I am proud of all the initiatives that our communities pursue throughout the year to create a safe, welcoming and fun environment for participants. Our annual host employer forums and series of participant welcome events bring key community stakeholders together, and I’m always looking forward to these collaborations!
Pamela G., Local Coordinator, Au Pair USA

Pamela Gaynor

Local Coordinator, Au Pair USA
I feel so lucky to be a Local Coordinator as I have the opportunity to meet amazing people from all over the world. I love watching the joy of new experiences through au pairs’ eyes and watching them grow throughout their time in the United States. I love watching au pairs and host families build their relationship to where they become [one] family and I love watching new traditions form.
Tanya Burovtseva, External Engagement Associate Director, InterExchange

Tanya Burovtseva

External Engagement Associate Director, InterExchange
A special moment for me this year was meeting with a group of our Career Training USA interns from Ukraine. These talented and brave individuals traveled to New York City to pursue professional development at the world famous Metropolitan Opera. I was inspired by their personal stories and reflections on the pivotal role of performing arts in supporting the mental health and well-being of the population enduring the impact of war.
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Championing meaningful cultural exchange

At the core of our cultural engagement programming is the commitment to creating and providing our participants with opportunities to connect with each other and members of their local host communities, develop new skills, and share their own cultures and expertise with their American friends and hosts.

Engaging With Future Leaders: Ambassadors Fund Scholarship Program

For the second year in a row, InterExchange welcomed a group of Ambassadors Fund for Summer Work Travel scholarship recipients. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, this scholarship has the goal of enhancing mutual understanding and supporting public diplomacy efforts between the United States and young people from other countries.

In 2023, through our partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Greece, we diversified the list of our scholarship partners. Representing Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and now Greece, 44 scholarship recipients were awarded a full grant to participate in the BridgeUSA Summer Work Travel Program sponsored by InterExchange, to experience American culture, community life, and leadership development first-hand. 

One scholarship highlight for participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, and Georgia, was the opportunity to spend three days in New York City to attend a networking and skills-building seminar.

2023 scholarship recipients with Kevin Saba, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
“Be a Changemaker” workshop with Mentor Dida.

Be a Changemaker Challenge with Mentor Dida

During the seminar, participants leaned into the “Changemaker Challenge,” which entailed working together in a series of guided exercises. The students tackled social issues of their choosing, learned effective storytelling techniques, and boosted their media literacy skills. The seminar ended with a traditional NYC-style pizza dinner and a series of presentations, thoughtfully created by groups of participants from different countries, working together, with the intention of inspiring change.

During the 2-day workshop, we prepared a project as a team and presented it at the end of the workshop. I still often remember the conversations we had about our cultures, the video we made and the moments we were awarded while working on our project. -  Murad M., Azerbaijan 

I am committed to implementing the valuable insights gained from the seminar into my daily life. Moving forward, I will approach social media with increased caution, being mindful of its potential pitfalls and ensuring that I use it responsibly. Recognizing the significant role of storytelling, I will make a conscious effort to consistently share my own narrative, understanding its power to connect and inspire others. Additionally, I will cultivate a deeper understanding of the societal issues we discussed and actively seek opportunities to contribute positively towards their improvement. With these goals in mind, I am dedicated to personal growth and making a meaningful impact on the world around me. - Vyara M., Bulgaria

One of the most cherished moments from the NYC Arrival Seminar was during a storytelling workshop, where I had the opportunity to share my personal journey with the group. As I recounted my experiences, struggles, and aspirations, I could feel a deep connection forming among us. My story seemed to resonate profoundly, prompting many of the participants to openly express their emotions through tears and hugs. This experience stands out because it showcased the remarkable power of storytelling to transcend cultural boundaries and foster genuine empathy. Witnessing the emotional responses and the supportive atmosphere that emerged from my storytelling reaffirmed the seminar's emphasis on intercultural understanding and the potential for personal narratives to bridge differences. - Gursel A., Azerbaijan

Scholarship Impact by the Numbers

2023 scholarship recipients enjoying a guided tour of the United Nations Headquarters.

44

7

23

Scholarship recipients

Countries represented

U.S. Host communities

100%

80+%

70%

Increased personal and/ or professional skills

Increased media literacy and communication skills

Increased leadership skills

44

Scholarship recipients

7

Countries represented

23

U.S. Host communities

100%

Increased personal and/ or professional skills

80+%

Increased media literacy and communication skills

70%

Increased leadership skills

Source: 2023 NYC Seminar Evaluation Survey 

Bicoastal Sports Diplomacy: Volunteering at the New York City & Los Angeles Marathons

 

For InterExchange participants, marathons in the United States represent more than just fun and inspirational athletic competitions. These sporting spectacles, attracting dedicated runners from around the world, are also an opportunity to experience the American spirit of determination and community service, as well as a chance to forge connections, create new friendships, and make a meaningful contribution to their very own host community.

Over the past seven years, BridgeUSA participants from around the world have experienced American volunteerism while meeting and socializing at marathons in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. Our very own InterExchange participants have been joining the TCS NYC Marathon as volunteers since 2016! ​

Au Pairs at the LA Marathon
InterExchange Au Pair USA participants volunteering at the Los Angeles Marathon.

This year, we are applauding our Au Pair USA participants in the Los Angeles area for volunteering for the very first time at the Los Angeles Marathon on March 19, 2023!

NYC Marathon
InterExchange Au Pair USA participants volunteering at the TCS NYC Marathon.

“I’m very proud of everyone, hard work, and dedication from these young adults from all over the world! Count me in next year!”

 – Anderson C., Au Pair USA Local Coordinator in Los Angeles 

NYC Marathon
InterExchange Au Pair USA participants volunteering at the TCS NYC Marathon.

Continuing in the spirit from the Los Angeles Marathon volunteer team, our participants in New York City stepped up to their volunteering duties at the annual TCS NYC Marathon on November 5, 2023. 

Volunteering at the Mile 21 marker in Manhattan — a notoriously challenging section of the race — these au pairs distributed water and gatorade to the runners and supported them with cheers on their way to the finish line. What a special way to witness the unwavering determination of marathoners from around the globe!

Meet Anna N. from Austria and Nancy W., our Au Pair USA Local Coordinator in Connecticut, and learn more about their reflections on the volunteering opportunity. 

Exchange Day in the Big Apple: Making a Difference With God’s Love We Deliver

The first Monday in August is a special day for the InterExchange community. On this day, we celebrate Exchange Day and the transformative power of international and cultural exchange programs by creating a chance for our participants to immerse themselves in the tapestry of their local host communities in a meaningful way. 

This year, a group of InterExchange participants and staff members shared our love with New Yorkers while volunteering with God’s Love We Deliver. This exceptional organization cooks and delivers nutritious and medically-tailored meals to those too ill to cook for themselves. Our group of 21 cheerful volunteers worked together to prepare, package, and get ready for delivery, hundreds of meal kits for New Yorkers in need. 

“My most favorite event memory was seeing everyone working together to achieve one common goal.” –  Annecia T. from Jamaica, Camp USA participant  

Learn more about Annecia’s and her fellow volunteers’ experience and check out the special event hashtags #ExchangesImpact #ExchangeDay2023 on social media for more stories from around the United States.

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone: American Adventure Quest

This year, our team took on a challenge to encourage our participants to abandon the overly-curated Instagram feed and focus on all the small pieces of everyday life that make for an epic summer in the USA… all while enticing their own followers to continue in their footsteps!

How did we do it, you ask?

With our inaugural season of the American Adventure Quest contest, we challenged the participants of our BridgeUSA programs to tout their intercultural adventures during their visits to the United States by posting photos and reels about activities ranging from museum visits and theater performances to local farmers’ markets and barbecues with new friends in their host communities.

3

10,000+

14,000+

12

months of fun

Instagram followers engaged

InterExchange participants engaged

email campaigns to promote the contest

14,300

1,250

500

55

views of Reels promoting the contest 

contest website visits

contest participants

countries represented

8

25

500+

3

contest themes

cultural activity ideas

posts tagged with the unique #ameriventure2023 contest hashtag

winners

3

months of fun

10,000+

Instagram followers engaged

14,000+

InterExchange participants engaged

12

email campaigns to promote the contest

14,300

views of Reels promoting the contest 

1,250

contest website visits

500

contest participants

55

countries represented

8

contest themes

25

cultural activity ideas

500+

posts tagged with the unique #ameriventure2023 contest hashtag

3

winners

Join us in celebrating our winners!

Gabriela D.

Au Pair USA participant from Brazil

Helena R.

Camp USA participant from Brazil

Airi O.

Au Pair USA participant from Japan

Gabriela D.

Au Pair USA participant from Brazil

Helena R.

Camp USA participant from Brazil

Airi O.

Au Pair USA participant from Japan

Putting a Spotlight on the Remarkable Stories of Our Participants and Hosts

From navigating a new culture, acquiring new skills to make a difference back home, to forming friendships that last a lifetime, our participant’s and hosts’ stories are a testament to the transformative power of cultural exchange. We are proud to share their impressive exchange experiences with our community!  

Joseph from South Africa

Meet Joseph J. from South Africa, a Career Training USA intern who is learning how to use batteries to store renewable energy. Joseph seeks to use his experience working with energy systems technologies in California as a case study to help his home country deal with widespread national blackouts, known as load-shedding. 

Lisa from Germany

Meet Lisa D. from Germany, an Au Pair USA participant who formed a very strong bond with her host family in Washington, and was invited to be a bridesmaid in her host parents’ wedding!  

Yazan Internship

Meet Yazan A. from Germany, a Career Training USA intern who is passionate about improving air quality and is using cutting-edge devices produced by his host company, SciGlob, to measure and analyze air gasses. 

Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives

Throughout 2023, InterExchange made significant strides, welcoming individuals from diverse global backgrounds for enriching experiences across the U.S. We facilitated vibrant discussions and educational events, extending our impact beyond our organization, championing understanding and diversity. DEI remains pivotal to our mission, driving us to actively embrace and promote diversity and inclusion.
Best DEI Initiative

Best DEI Initiative Award

InterExchange was honored to receive the 2023 Global Youth Travel Award for Best Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in Lisbon, Portugal. This recognition underscores our efforts in shaping inclusive workplaces and travel landscapes, reaffirming our dedication to offering transformative cultural exchange opportunities.

Culture Talk Series 

In 2023, with our Culture Talk program we educated our program participants on American culture through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. Our Culture Talk during International Education Week (November 13-17) focused on Accessibility at Lions Camp Badger, a Camp USA host employer dedicated to providing a unique experience for individuals with diverse abilities and disabilities. It’s a place where staff, international camp counselors, and volunteers come together to guide and support campers in a setting that is inclusive and supportive of everyone’s needs. 

We spoke with Paloma S., Camp USA participant from Mexico, and her American colleague Justin G., about their experience at Lions Camp Badger, and we are grateful to both Paloma and Justin for sharing their experience and reflections with our community

“Summer camp is a very special place for self-discovery. For our campers who may feel excluded from society, camp is a place where they are unconditionally accepted for who they are. For our counselors and volunteers, they work closely as a team and build a lot of trust to serve the campers. All of this helps foster a beautifully diverse and inclusive environment. I can clearly remember many moments from my own time as a counselor that showcased diversity and inclusion… It’s amazing seeing campers who are normally shy feel comfortable enough to show off their dance moves. This can only happen if there is a culture of inclusiveness.”

– Justin G., Team Member, Lions Camp Badger in New York, Camp USA host employer 

“I always wanted to study or work abroad but I couldn’t find anything that would fit my schedule, then I found summer camp and thought it would be perfect for me. I wanted to experience American culture, practice my English, and have my own camp experience since we don’t have those in my home country. Growing up with a special needs family member made me understand inclusion, respect, and diversity. Later on in my life I was a  teacher’s assistant in a cooking class for special needs people and loved it. That’s when I realized I wanted to dedicate a part of my life to that amazing community of people.”

Paloma S. from Mexico, Camp USA participant

Staff Well-Being and Mental Health Training 

In partnership with P3 Mental Health Advisors, we held an extensive Emotional First Aid training led by Jamie Robinson, LMFT. This comprehensive session enhanced our staff’s communication skills, taught valuable crisis management strategies, and provided a nuanced assessment of mental health indicators spanning various degrees of severity. The primary focus of this training was to strengthen our capacity in offering empathetic support to participants confronting mental health hurdles, coupled with equipping our staff with self-care resources.

Additionally, in collaboration with our Leadership Team, we actively contributed to formulating a comprehensive Crisis Management Plan. Tailored specifically to provide aid and resources during critical situations, this plan is designed to support both participants and hosts effectively.

Empowering Aspiring Young Americans Dedicated to Making a Positive Impact in the World

In 2023, the InterExchange Foundation completed its seventeenth year of grantmaking. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded approximately $660,000 of funding for Christianson Fellowships to 111 young Americans who have carried out notable service projects in various countries throughout the world. We are proud to be able to support our fellows’ unique exchanges while they are gaining hands-on experience by thoughtfully contributing their skills within a different culture. 

In 2023, four applicants were selected as recipients of Christianson Fellowships in the total amount of $38,800. These U.S. citizens are slated to begin their service projects in 2024:

Joey Johnson

Joseph “Joey” Johnson from Davidson, NC, will spend six months in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he will be developing an outdoor education curriculum with 18th Public High School William Gladstone. This curriculum will eventually be made a free resource available online to educators across Bulgaria. Joey is an alumnus of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, as well as of the Critical Language Scholarship.

Elizabeth Trudel

Elizabeth Trudel from Saint Augustine, FL, will be spending eight months in Serres, Greece, to work with the Lifting Hands International (LHI) Refugee Center. Elizabeth is committed to making a meaningful contribution within LHI’s Children Friendly Space (CFS), to be actively engaged in sports activities for children, as well as to serve as an educator within the Center’s broader Education Program.

Lila Williams

Lila Williams from Haverford, PA, will be spending nine months in Trieste, Italy, to work with the Trieste Mental Health Department. She will engage with inpatients and outpatients at the clinic, create recreational activities, host foreign delegations visiting the renowned mental health department, and prepare materials in the English language.

Caroline Schauder

Caroline Schauder from Denver, CO, will spend eight months in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she will build an environmental impact tracking web app in partnership with Re-Made in Cambodia (RMIC). The purpose of this app is to quantify and communicate RMIC’s environmental impact to customers and partners in order to amplify, celebrate, and expand their work.

In addition to supporting ambitious Americans via the InterExchange Foundation, we enabled U.S. citizens to travel abroad and experience new cultures on Work & Travel Programs to Canada and Australia, Spanish Immersion programs in Latin America, and on international educational tours offered by Gapforce (a UK-based subsidiary of InterExchange). In 2023, approximately 500 young Americans were inspired to travel abroad on one of our program offerings.

"There are so many similarities between U.S. and Canadian culture, so I didn’t expect that I would be exposed to so many cultures here in Canada. Although we are both countries of immigrants, my hometown of Dallas is so big so I wouldn’t venture out to other communities - I really stayed in my bubble. Here, I have been exposed to different cultures way more, and I get to represent my own culture in a way I never had before.” - Laila C. from Dallas, Texas, Work & Travel Canada participant in Langley (Vancouver), Canada

Sydney Australia

"We're all born on a planet that's so incredibly diverse and vast with so many different cultures to see and environments to enjoy, and I think Australia is a beautiful and unique continent that's essential on anyone's checklist for seeing the world. Hopefully this will just be the start of many trips abroad, and I think this program would be an excellent way to start my travels." - Austin R. from Dexter, Oregon, Work & Travel Australia participant in Sydney, Australia

“[French] is not an easy language to learn, but I do it to give respect to the country I am in and to get a whole new take on things I already enjoy.” - Jesus O. from Bloomfield, Connecticut, Work & Travel Canada participant in Montréal, Canada

Advocating for Cultural Exchange

International cultural exchange programs are vital for U.S. public diplomacy, facilitating meaningful engagement with ambitious youth from around the world, supporting U.S. national security, strengthening the economy, and promoting a deeper understanding of American values. By fostering people-to-people diplomacy, international exchange programs create unique opportunities for  Americans and young people from around the world to act as cultural ambassadors for their countries.

In 2023, we strived to engage with our elected officials to ensure they are aware of the positive impact of exchange programs in their local communities and nationwide, and we are grateful to everyone who supported us and participated in these efforts.

Our advocacy initiatives this year included:

Congressional Lunch & Learn

Co-hosting a special Lunch and Learn session on Capitol Hill. 

In partnership with the Alliance for International Exchange, we hosted an educational session “Leveraging the Power of International Exchange” and discussed the impact of the U.S. Department of State exchange programs, both at home and abroad. The session was attended by 12 Congressional staff members representing 8 Congressional offices and two Committees.

2023 Advocacy Day Group

Meeting with our elected officials during the Alliance for International Exchange Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.  

We love sharing our participants’ and hosts’ stories to keep congressional offices informed about the benefits of international and cultural exchange programs in their districts and states. In March 2023, our team engaged with 21 congressional offices representing 8 states.

US Capitol Bldg

Endorsing the bi-partisan House Resolution in support of exchange programs.

InterExchange proudly joined over 400 Chambers of Commerce, associations, and businesses nationwide to endorse the bi-partisan House Resolution introduced by Representatives Blake Moore (R-UT) and Annie Kuster (D-NH). To date, 6 Members of Congress have signed on to this resolution, and we look forward to more House Members expressing their support of exchange programs in the new year. 

Creating opportunities for elected officials to meet with exchange participants in person. 

“The experience that you gain, the friendships you make, the connections you build… while you’re here … you can build a more peaceful world, you can build a healthier world by making connections between people!” With these words of inspiration, Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH 9) welcomed a group of more than 100 Summer Work Travel program participants at a special welcome event organized by the city of Port Clinton, Ohio, for its international guests. We are grateful to our partnership with Mayor Mike Snider and his team to make this special event possible, and to Representative Kaptur for her support of exchange programs and people-to-people diplomacy.