Thank You for 70 Years of Transforming Lives

Authored by:
James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

Dear CIEE Community,

American luminary Senator J. William Fulbright perfectly captured the essence of our commitment to international exchange when he said: “Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations. To this purpose I believe the Council on International Educational Exchange is dedicated.”

Seventy years ago this very day, CIEE was founded on this idea by men and women who understood the importance of bringing together people to increase global harmony and nurture peace. They had the vision to recognize that one small group of intrepid student travelers on a C-4 Troop ship could help to reestablish American connections with Germans, Japanese, and Italians, slowly building back some of the trust that was lost during World War II.

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On that day, May 8, 1947, the nonprofit Council on Student Travel (later to be renamed CIEE) was formed with a defining mission: to provide exchange opportunities that would create conversation and unity between people of all nations. What began seven decades ago as a commitment to international exchange has now become an enduring legacy – one built upon strong partnerships with forward-thinking organizations, institutions, and individuals. Together, we’ve built programs that broaden perspectives, unite cultures, share traditions, and enhance dialogue around the globe. Our goal: to truly transform the lives of the students, educators, host families, employers, and so many others who choose to see the world, not in black and white, but in a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors, perspectives, and languages.

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Since that time:

• More than 600,000 Americans have experienced another culture through CIEE study, teach, and internship programs in more than 50 countries outside the U.S.

• More than 950,000 people from 135 countries have experienced the U.S. – many for the first time – through our inbound study, work, internship, and trainee programs.

• And more than 48,000 U.S. families and employers have shepherded students and been enriched through the hosting of CIEE-sponsored international exchange participants.

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These numbers are impressive, yes. But more remarkable are the individual stories – stories of lives changed, similarities discovered, and differences celebrated. With each story, we are reminded of the beauty and harmony of the human tapestry and of the universal truth that we are all human, worthy of compassion, respect, and understanding.


As we celebrate 70 years of bringing these powerful stories to life, I wish to reaffirm CIEE’s dedication to providing opportunities for all who wish to learn and grow from the exchange of ideas and experiences in a culture different from their own. Through innovation and collaboration, we are committed to establishing programs in areas where there is a deficit of trust to renew connections and conversations. We will embark on bold new partnerships with organizations, institutions, and people to create opportunities for more students of all backgrounds and from all nations. And we will advocate for the importance of international exchange, ensuring our voices – and the voices of our participants worldwide – continue to be heard.


Thank you for celebrating 70 years with CIEE. And thank you for sharing in our continued dedication to and passion for international exchange.

Jamm Rekk,
(Wolof for “Peace Always”)

James P. Pellow
President & CEO

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