Celebrating 5 Years of the CIEE Civic Leadership Summit

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CIEE Alumni

CIEE Alumni


The CIEE Civic Leadership Summit was founded in 2013 in order to bring together passionate, young leaders from the CIEE Work & Travel USA program for an exchange on leadership, social entrepreneurship, and cultural understanding. At CIEE, we believe that a single person can make a difference and, through the Summit experience, each Fellow has potential to have a positive impact on their community, country, and world at large. By taking part in engaging workshops, participants share their world perspectives and discover ways to make a difference in their community. As we begin applications for the sixth year of the Summit, we look back on the past five years to share stories of growth, inspiration, and changing the world:


"The Civic Leadership Summit was a truly outstanding experience. For the first time in my life, I had the privilege to listen to the problems facing other enthusiastic and proactive young people from all over the world, from Ireland to China! I learned a lot by interacting and discussing problems with them."  -Yehya Mamdouh Hassan


“The Civic Leadership Summit was the first time I actually ran into like-minded people – young adults who still had that drive to change things for the better. It showed me that what I wanted to do wasn't a losing battle, that there are plenty of others out there who wanted the same thing I did – a better tomorrow for themselves and for their community." -Paul Runcan


"I grew up in Afghanistan, a country where multi-ethnic cultural differences are a big tension. It was always a big question for me, why diversity can be the power of most countries but not in Afghanistan. The curiosity and wish of having a diverse-united country motivated me to go and find an answer for my question by visiting a multi-cultural country like the United States. Besides, I believed that when I experience a different culture through educational and cultural exchange, I would gain a deeper understanding of myself and those around me – deepening my knowledge of foreign cultures, strengthening international relations, and, the most important of all, making a personal development." -Javed Shadan


“The Civic Leadership Summit was, with no doubt, the most meaningful experience during my program. It was such an important opportunity getting to connect with other leaders from all over the world with a similar idea of what the world should be like and how they are going to work in order to make it get at least closer to it. I got to share my ideas, my thoughts, my principles about life and the world with a lot of inspirational people that are definitely working to make their own countries a better place to live in.” -Ariana Sánchez Barrios


"Now I truly feel like I have a responsibility to my community and my country. The issue we have is that young people are not motivated to study, to learn, to think, to change things for better, or fight for what we believe in. We were only six brave Nicaraguans in CIEE Work & Travel USA during the summer of 2017, and that was because I personally saw a lot of young and capable people backing off and claiming that they didn't want to step out of their comfort zone. I am sure I can be an example and set standards to a lot of young people of how good it feels to work for something and achieve what you want." -Cheryl Pablo

"It changed the way I see things. Surrounded by brighter minds makes you feel motivated and confident. Discussion and sharing ideas made me clarify the way I see things and how they really are. This summit made me motivated and taught me that one person can make a difference if we just go for it. Therefore, we will always be the solution to every problem." -Valmira Xharavina 

"I was deeply motivated by the passion of my fellow participants of the Summit. Just by hearing the fellows’ stories and their ideas on how to change their communities, I realized that they were the people who will one day become politicians, leaders and changemakers in their communities. They gave me hope and motivation to create a lasting impact in my community." -Irfan Tahir

"It was an amazing feeling to know that I, a girl from Romania, can have so many things in common with a girl from Nicaragua. We bonded over what seemed a simple question – “If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?” It was an awesome feeling to know that if you are willing to open your mind and let go of prejudices, you can make friends with people from all over the world." -Andra Dolana

We checked in with other Civic Leadership Summit alumni this past year to see how they're finding meaning and creating impact around the world. Here are some of the adventures they're having and projects they're starting that show how life can change after participating in an inspiring event with other young leaders:

"I’m in LA traveling after I finished my job. I’m going home to Palestine next week and I have a lot of ideas, thoughts, and things to do. Wish me luck!" -Ahmed M. Lafi

"I'm currently back in Tunisia, back in school, and have only one and a half years left before I graduate from my university. I also currently serve as the external relations manager for a social enterprise called Young Tunisian Coders Academy. We recently won the Social Impact Award that was held here in Tunisia! It was only my second time pitching in front of an audience. This was time it was in French, not English! Within our social enterprise, we aim to evolve and become a startup." -Naouel Cherif

"I was accepted to the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program to study one full academic year at Emporia State University in Kansas. I have also been selected to be the Hult Prize campus director at ESU and was accepted as a delegate for the Model United Nations at Harvard University. All thanks to the CLS and all the amazing CIEE staff!" -Amir Ammar

"I participated in the Civic Leadership Summit in 2016 and when I came back to Egypt (my home), I was selected to be the director of international affairs of my faculty (medicine) and now I have my own startup! I created a new association about the environment and empowering youth potentials and talents called ExEgypt. I’m the founder and CEO and I’m really happy that the CLS made a new character of me. I’m no longer called a doctor, I’m a real CHANGEMAKER! Many thanks to my CIEE family” -Alaa Elyamany

"The CLS was one of the best opportunities of my life. When I went back to Turkey, I founded the first student nutrition magazine in the country. I started to study business on a full scholarship and involved a reverse mentoring program at Unilever. Thank you for all the hospitality and amazing days in Washington, D.C.!" -Pinar Batmaz

"After the CLS, I went back to Italy (where I was studying) and got my master’s in international business and finance. I then moved to Spain now live in lovely Barcelona where I work at HP as a financial analyst for the 3D Printing Solutions. Still playing basketball and, meanwhile, I learned how to dance salsa!" -Polina Peltekova

"I am back in Jamaica completing my degree in microbiology. Currently, I am serving as the director of membership and new generation for the university's Rotaract Club (a partner club of Rotary), where my job is to motivate members of the university population and surrounding high schools to be more active in community service."  -Ackime Thomas

"I’m in Mexico studying business management and am a leader by founding the student society at ITESO (a higher education institution), joining CEENI congress programs. I am actually trying to push my CIEE idea from the CLS into reality and some other little projects!" -Emmanuel Monroy

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