A few months ago, two CIEE alumni had the distinct opportunity to attend a breakfast roundtable discussion with Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. This unique opportunity was faciliated by the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and was extended to only a select number of individuals who participated in the Exchange Visitor Program. We were so proud to learn that several CIEE Work & Travel USA and Internship USA alumni were invited to attend this special event.
Following Assistant Secretary Royce's tweet about this exchange visitor alumni meeting, we contacted our alumni who attended to ask what the opportunity meant to them. Special thanks to María and Pablo for sharing their experience with us!
María José Guirao Meseguer
Program Year(s): 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
U.S. City/State and Host employer: Whitefish, Montana, Grouse Mountain Lodge
CIEE Exchange Program: CIEE Work & Travel USA
María José was born in Callosa de Segura, a town located in Alicante, Spain. Ever since she started studying English at school at age 7, she realized that it was going to be her passion for life. She enjoyed several summers at summer camps improving her English and during her high school years she had great teachers who would inspire her to apply for an English Degree in College. In this regard, to fulfill her “American Dream”, she ended up participating for four summers straight in the CIEE Work & Travel USA program. In order to do that, she relied on the agency Travelingua (www.travelingua.es), the leading agency in Spain specializing in J-1 exchange programs. Thanks to the CIEE Work & Travel USA program, she discovered America and fell in love with Montana. Working at Glacier National Park, those four summers have changed María José’s life both personally and professionally. María José recently started working for Travelingua. At the moment, her goal is to motivate other students to participate in these international cultural exchange programs as well as helping them experience the world, feel closer to it and keep learning from it, just as she has done so far and continues to do with Travelingua. María José has experienced first-hand the benefits of living in the U.S. and becoming an ambassador of both the Spanish and American cultures.
Please tell our readers about your experience meeting A/S Royce and other exchange program alumni: It will always be an honor to me meeting with A/S Marie Royce. Her kindness and powerful message she gave us about connecting our ideas and with each other was very inspiring for me. Meeting other exchange program alumni made me so happy; seeing that no matter what different programs or dreams we follow, we are all in this together. I have always been passionate about the United States of America, so having the opportunity to live and learn more about its history and culture has impacted my life in so many good ways. Thanks to this experience I feel more engaged to the world. It made me evolve and still does. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Program Year(s): 2017
U.S. City/State and Host employer: Miami, Florida, Revuelta Architecture International
CIEE Exchanges Program: CIEE Internship USA
Pablo Ambrossi was born and raised in Madrid, Spain and is set to graduate in 2020 from the School of Architecture in Madrid (ETSAM). Ever since he was a kid he wanted to continue his father’s legacy and become an architect. When he graduates, he plans to obtain some international experience working abroad before eventually returning to Madrid to work alongside his father. For this reason, he wanted to share his personal and fortunate experience, which began when he processed his program with Travelingua and his J-1 visa was stamped at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. This fulfilled his long-time dream of visiting the United States. Even though it was only for a couple of months, living in the U.S. taught him how rich and diverse this world is. This has helped him become more open-minded and accepting of other ways of life, and granted him a priceless professional and culturally enriching experience.
Please tell our readers about your experience meeting A/S Royce and other exchange program alumni: Without a doubt, it has personally been an incredible experience: I have met a very important personality as well as great young people who dream big like myself. It was amazing to see how an incredible and important woman like her could share everything with us in such an open, honest and human way. It was amazing how much you can learn from others that also have been abroad and dream big, like myself. I really would like to keep in touch with them to share and strength our mutual goals. In terms of future, you never know how this kind of experiences could end someday. I am very optimistic because I now have the feeling that this can be the beginning toward something big. I firmly believe that this event and the contacts I made will always benefit me.