Amerisa Kyriazis interned at CRDF Headquarters in Arlington, VA in spring 2019 and assisted the Research & Innovation team on many projects, including the International Visitor Leadership Program. She is currently studying Government and French at Georgetown University and hopes to pursue a career in international affairs.
Before beginning my internship at CRDF Global, I had never heard of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). When I interviewed for the position, I recall being interested by the description of the program and the international nature of the team and the company in general. During my interview, when I mentioned my own experience and love of learning the French language, several team members began speaking to me in French, allowing me to see firsthand how they could bring their own cultural exchange experiences to the team. While these initial introductions to the IVLP were important to my fundamental knowledge of the program, I only truly understood the impact of it after my semester of interning at CRDF Global, where I participated in various levels of its implementation, from initial project research, to preparation of welcome materials, to the actual welcoming of visitors to the U.S. Since finishing my internship, I have been abroad in Lyon, France where I am currently studying at a French university. I can truly say that interning at CRDF Global, and specifically, with the IVLP, broadened my worldview in a way that has allowed my own cultural exchange experience to be particularly fulfilling.
Within my first week at CRDF, I attended the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting, where I learned what the IVLP is all about, and how the different entities involved all work together. Similarly, since coming to France, I have been living with a host family and taking classes in a French university, both of which have immersed me in the culture and allowed me to learn more about it than I would have otherwise. As I have begun engaging in my own form of cultural exchange, I have come to further appreciate the work of the IVLP in promoting understanding and learning between different cultures, and I believe my time interning at CRDF Global was invaluable preparation for and exposure to cultural exchange prior to coming abroad.
Overall, while the academic and professional skills I acquired while at CRDF Global have been important to my career planning, perhaps the most valuable asset I gained through my experience is the ability to interact with individuals of other cultures, and the desire to do so in a way that facilitates dialogue and understanding. For me, this embodies the intent and impact of the IVLP, and allows me to say with certainty that my time working with international exchanges will stay with me throughout my future personal and professional endeavors.