ciee - council on international educational exchange

Professional Internship Program

BAFF News Blog

Learn more about the organization and past events.


Kristina Gelzinyte at the University of California Santa Barbara

Lithuanian intern, Kristina Gelzinyte, has spent her internship at University of California Santa Barbara. Her role has centered on the designing and growth to characterization, analysis, and result publishing of nitride light emitting diodes (LEDs), and participated in and conducted the growth processes, structural and optical characterization. Kristina said, "This program is perfect. I got so much personal and professional experience. I will continue collaboration with my American colleagues when I come back home."
Kristina Gelzinyte
Kristina Gelzinyte at the Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center conference at University of California Santa Barbara

In the words of Rolands Bogdanovs: a BAFF internship experience

The main project that I was working on for the whole year was ‘Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons’, which culminated in a day-long hearing at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) on 8 December 2016.  The hearing was open to the public and also live-streamed on the World Wide Web.  Well over 100 people attended the hearing, including representatives of leading NGOs, lawyers, academics, U.S. and non-U.S. government officials, embassy personnel, journalists and students.

Three internationally renowned jurists presided over the hearing: Navanethem Pillay (Chair), Mark B. Harmon, and Thomas Buergenthal (the “Judicial Tribunal”).  Collectively, these jurists have served on the International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  Notably, it was during Ms. Pillay’s tenure as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that the COI conducted its investigation and issued its landmark report.   Evidence of human rights violations by the DPRK was presented by members of the IBA’s War Crimes Committee and other counsel who specialize in international criminal and human rights law: Federica D’Alessandra; Steven Kay, QC; Gregory W. Kehoe; and Kirsty Sutherland (the “Prosecution”).

Ruth Wedgwood, Professor of International Law and Diplomacy at Johns Hopkins, stated in her remarks opening the hearing that this Inquiry was “not an ordinary academic gathering, but a purposive act of bearing witness.”  The hearing first featured live testimony from three North Korean defectors: Defector No. 1, Kang Cheol Hwan, a former prisoner who spent ten years in a prison camp before escaping from North Korea in 1992; Defector No. 2, a former regime official who asked that his name be withheld and to testify behind a screen during the hearing to maintain his anonymity; and Defector No. 3, Choi Hyun Jin, a former official in the State Security Department whose responsibilities included identification of alleged spies against the DPRK.    

The second part of the hearing featured expert testimony from two experts on the DPRK’s political prison camps and its penal system more generally: Kenneth Gause, Director of the International Affairs Group, CAN Analysis & Solutions; and David Hawk, a consultant for the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.  Both have written extensively on North Korea and are widely regarded as among the world’s leading experts on the aforementioned topics. 20161208_190951

This picture is taken after the event at a dinner reception for the organizers and participants. I’m standing with a partner at Hogan Lovells, who helped us immensely with the legal analysis part, and also one of the North Korean defectors.


I had the absolute honor to meet one of the most eminent justices in Australia and also globally - Justice Michael Kirby. We sat down to discuss crimes against humanity in North Korea as he is a field expert and led the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.


I participated in a week long Enrichment and Development program (I-LEAD), which was organized by CIEE and The United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It was an unforgettable week long experience with 61 people from 27 different countries and throughout the week we got to know each other, made new friends and improved our leadership skills.


Throughout the year I spent in America, I was travelling a lot and visited almost half of the United States (23 states). Travelling across different states, although within a single country, was a mind-bending experience, because the diversity in it is insane. One can find everything from huge skyscrapers and cities to canyons, rivers, oceans, lakes and forests. I can easily say that I managed to experience it all, although there is still a few things left on my checklist, but that’s for another time.


While traveling across the West coast with an amazing group of Baltic guys (Vytautas from Lithuania, Johannes from Estonia and Mareks from Latvia) we saw some of the most scenic places and the most beautiful National Parks. We had an incredible time and it was a prefect way for me to end my fellowship and my stay in the US.


Latvian Intern at University of Minnesota

Latvian intern, Igor Sepelevs, shares a few experiences at his internship with the Food Science and Nutrition team at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Igor's internship has focused on better understanding how to protect and deliver functional food bioactives to the consumer. Igor states, "This program is one of my greatest experiences so far. I learned a lot and got hands-on experience in managing the lab, working on high-end equipment, and another University's tasks that I fulfilled. It is specially valuable as for now I would like to have academic career."
Gary's group 2
Participants of Dinner Evening dedicated to food safety
Igor's science team at University of Minnesota
Igor at the Flavor Technology Lab, tasting juice samples


Intern at Preview of Collective Design Fair

Estonian Ann Mirjam Vaikla, has shared photos of her experience at the VIP preview of New York's Collective Design Fair. Ann assisted in representing Storefront for Art and Architecture, her Host Company since June 2016, in the presentation of three limited and specially commissioned works at the fair: the L-Ruler, Lite-Scapes SF, and Marilyn

Ann states, "The event was vibrant and it was interesting to see how a gallery like Storefront for Art and Architecture entered a design scene by participating in the fair for the first time. When representing the works I was fortunate to talk with many interesting people from around the world. The fair will take place until the end of the week."

Ann Mirjam Vaikla


Image courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture
Collective Design Fair entrance: layers of shimmering foil fringe over a plywood rib frame.
Collective Design Fair Premier




Enrichment Trip to Minneapolis!

The Exchange Foundations spring 2017 Enrichment Trip brought our BAFF and HAESF interns to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a week-long journey into the culture of the larger of the “Twin Cities”. The group was exposed to America’s mid-west at its finest, ranging from cuisine, a brewery tour, a visit to the Prince Museum as well as volunteering our time at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  An inspirational discussion was led by one of our host organization supervisors, Garth Rockcastle from MSR Architects along with a presentation from PLACE, a nonprofit organization connecting projects linked to Art, Community and Environment.   The trip allowed the participants the opportunity to learn about the diversity of the United States as well as to form long-lasting bonds with others sharing a similar scholarship experience. 

Minneapolis Enrichment Trip 064
Janis Freimanis, Niks Sauva, Egils Markus, Inese Mazarevica
Interns volunteer for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum


Greete Pork, Janis Freimanis
CIEE Kelly Francis and Maggie Ivanova
Brewery Tour
Minneapolis Enrichment Trip 097
Kalev Karpuk, Allar Nirk, Liisi Org, Robert Reidla, Martin Kaskla
Vladlens Kovalevs, Egils Markus
Minneapolis Enrichment Trip 091
HAESF interns: Szilvia Barcza, Bence Toth, Zoltan Ban, Lila Szabo
Ruta Sakalauskaite, Justas Gratulavicius
Robert Reidla mastering full-size Jenga

Minneapolis Enrichment Trip 102

Mill City Museum Tour


MSR Architecture
Garth Rockcastle discusses business and architecture to the  Interns.
Garth Rockcastle
Chris Velasco discusses his nonprofit, Place
Laura Lyons, Exchange Foundations Director, gives interactive presentation on "Dimensions of Culture"


Farewell dinner at The News Room


Research Scholar, Irina Hussainova, at University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne

Estonian Research Scholar, Irina Hussainova, studying nanonet of ceramic fibers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne.
Irina's research group at UIUC


Prof. Iwona Jasiuk, Irina, Prof. Martin Ostoja-Starzewski at a department picnic at Crystal lake, Champagne


Lithuanian BAFF Research Scholar, Arturas Jukna, gave a lecture at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of University of Rochester, NY on the topic of "Generation, Detection and Applications of THz Radiation".The lecture reviewed the most interesting designs and potential applications of THz generators, detectors, and presented the most recent research results of his U of R research group on optical properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes solution and their spin-coated thin films onto crystalline substrates.
Arturas is a professor of the Department of Physics at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University in Vilnius, Lithuania. Since June 2016, he has been working with his U of R research group headed by Prof. Roman Sobolewski, and studying optical and electric properties of materials and micro-/nano-electronic devices.
Arturas Jukna gives a lecture at University of Rochester

20170201_UofR_ECE_THzSeminar_AJ7 Pages from 20170201_ECE_Seminar_presentation


Research Scholar shares her experience at West Virginia University

Latvian Research Scholar, Marika Lotko, has been hard at work on her research project at West Virginia University. Her study, "Positive Outcomes of Animal-Assisted Therapy for Children who Face Social Problems", explores the symbiotic relationships between human and animal to solve social problems. 

Marika shares: "During my research activities in the United States, I've been seeking to discover positive outcomes from human interaction with animals. I was lucky to observe different animals used in diverse facilities: horses, farm animals (including camels, peacocks, wild birds who receive rehabilitation and after are released) and dogs. My research experience brought me a lot of joy, many smiles and different experience in interaction while interviewing professionals."

Marika has visited different institutions in the area to talk with professionals about their experience involving animals in their work (mostly dogs and horses), and has also been to Green Chimneys, a non-profit organization whose mission is to maximize the full potential of young children within a supportive environment consisting of nature and animals. At this point, she has completed her interviewing portion of the research, and is now working on transcribing. Marika has also been gathering questionnaires, aiming to collect minimally 100 responses from students. 

Marika says that she now has a good understanding of how animals are involved in professional work, and her next goal is to meet with professionals who work with dolphins in Florida.



CIEE team visits Boston!

The Exchange Foundations team spent the day in Boston, catching up with the local BAFF interns, and putting some familiar names to their faces at some of our long-time partnering Host Companies, IXL Center and Skanska.

Our first stop was at IXL Center, a company specialized in guiding corporations and individuals towards developing innovation management. Our hosts, Julius Bautista, Senior Manager, Ronald Jonash, Senior Partner, and Kevin Cuddeback, CMO, welcomed the CIEE staff members with a Power Point presentation about all of the CIEE-sponsored interns who have been part of the IXL team. Julius offered a remarkably elaborate overview of each Intern's projects while at IXL, and spoke about the ongoing professional relationships that IXL enjoys with the interns after their repatriation. The two professional teams were also delighted to share information about their latest products, including IXL's professional and organizational development courses, as well as CIEE's new Research Scholar program.

CIEE Intership program - IXL Interns
Julius Bautista's presentation: CIEE interns at IXL

The next stop on our itinerary was lunch with the interns at Toscano's Restaurant. The CIEE staff was delighted to hear updates about the interns' current work projects, recent travel experiences, and professional prospects back home.

Left to right: Denise Desrochers, Marius Gailius, Ruta Sakalauskaite, Maggie Ivanova, Priit Noor, Kelly Francis, Ursula Ilo, Liene Putnina

After a hearty lunch, our final stop on the itinerary was Skanska Boston. Skanska has hosted numerous CIEE interns at their offices throughout the United States, including Somerville, New York, and Oakland, California. At Skanska, our interns gain experience with Building Information Modeling (3D and 4D model  imagery), as well as the elements of LEED construction (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Our host was Albert Zulps, Regional Director, Virtual Design and Construction. The team toured the newly designed Skanska office, which included an open-concept layout (a familiar setting to the CIEE staff), with Smart meeting rooms, and an ultra-modern Skanska gym. Albert offered the CIEE crew an enlightening demonstration of the capabilities of BIM software, and even allowed us to try on a new 3-D virtual reality headset. He then spoke with enthusiasm about their recent CIEE interns, the skills they offered to and gained from the company, and projects to which they contributed. Other Skanska members of staff also popped in for a visit, eager to express their appreciation of the BAFF/HAESF programs, including Office Manager, Laurie Clifford, Director of Staff Development, Catherine Rose, and VDC Manager, Matt Emond. 

Albert Zulps (Skanska); Denise Desrochers (CIEE); Kelly Francis (CIEE)
Albert Zulps: a BIM demonstration

We are very grateful to both IXL and Skanska for welcoming both the CIEE staff and our interns into their busy and innovative worlds. We look forward to a continual partnership throughout the coming years!




Estonian intern, a featured story at San Francisco's KALW radio

Jurgen Klemm, Estonian intern working as a Journalist at KALW in San Francisco, received a bit of the spotlight in the featured story about "An Estonian in San Francisco". In this interview, Jurgen offers a reflective analysis of the paradigm of silence (both in terms of culture and the media) seen through the lens of an Estonian Journalist, and against the backdrop of a year-long extracultural living and professional immersion experience. An inspiring article, Jurgen, and we thank you for the enlightenment!