In celebration of CIEE's 75th anniversary, some of the U.S. high schools honored with Bridge Builder Awards shared reflections from educators about the power of study abroad and international exchange for high school students.
Learn more about high school global exchange programs and the other champions of global exchange behind them honored by our 75th anniversary awards.
"I am blessed to have beautiful, enriching, and dynamic relationships with people across the globe"
“In April 1982 I went to Spain for the first time on an exchange program planned and supervised by my Spanish teacher, Mrs. Bergman. I stayed with a family in Ubrique, Spain and I fell in love with the Spanish culture. That trip changed my life forever. 40 years later, I am still in close contact with this family.
I am blessed to have beautiful, enriching, and dynamic relationships with people across the globe, all because of a travel abroad experience in high school.”
— Liz Matchett, Spanish teacher at Henry Gunn High School
"Learning outside of the classroom walls provides authenticity and relevance"
"Providing an opportunity to travel is crucial, because learning outside of the classroom walls provides the authenticity and relevance our students are seeking.
As educators, we want our students to know that the world is a very big place, full of opportunities and varying perspectives, but we also want our students to recognize that the world is very small, and we share so much in common with people from different cultures. Travel helps our students develop confidence and deep connections."
— Stacy Allen, English teacher at Austin High School
"When they share their experiences with classmates, their enthusiasm is contagious"
“[When student return from a CIEE Global Navigator High School Abroad program], they are not only more proficient in the language and have a better understanding of another culture, but they are also more aware of their place in the world as global citizens.
When they share their experiences with classmates, their enthusiasm is contagious, and we have seen a snowball effect as more and more students apply each year and ultimately travel abroad with CIEE.
Students who were quite shy become very comfortable addressing hundreds of students and sharing what the CIEE program means to them and encouraging their classmates to take advantage of this incredible opportunity. We have seen students who have struggled with the language in the classroom have it click once they are immersed in the language and culture.
Our students progress on the proficiency level after a CIEE program and when they return, they are much more confident in their abilities and other students are really encouraged to see how easily one can improve their language skills."
—Betsy Farley, French teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School
"The bonds these students made will help in the future"
"Exchange students have enriched the lives of our students and staff throughout the years. I remember many times when our exchange students helped me grow in my understanding and appreciation for different cultures.
I remember some good times and some difficult times. Once a students was from Turkey and she shared with me her worries about civil unrest at home. It was a scary but her host family, CIEE staff and her friends here at Lawrence North High School helped her. The bonds these students made will help in the future as our world continues to become interconnected."
—Brad Cangany, counselor at Lawrence North High School
"It shows our students our village is not the world"
"The life experiences [international exchange] students have shared is humbling, it shows our students our village is not the world."
—Kari Bordner, counselor at Lawrence North High School
Read more reflections from the educators featured in our 75th anniversary awards.