ciee - council on international educational exchange

Professional Internship Program

BAFF News Blog

Learn more about the organization and past events.


Marta Lange's internship at Houston Methodist Hospital

Latvian intern, Marta Lange, has spent nearly a year working at the Houston Methodist Hospital, researching the reduction of radiation exposure and optimization of usage and protective features of imaging systems in order to establish safe practices for protection. She has been under the careful watch and guidance of her supervisor Dr. Garami, who specializes in Radiology and Transcranial Doppler (TCD).
As Marta prepares for her return to Latvia, she reflects on her experience and transition to come: "The overall experience has been positive. I have gained both professionally and personally. For sure this internship has given me enormous potential for future career and a great contribution in other skills, like cultural, communication, travel, networking, and so on. I have grown a lot, and have the confidence that the world is my oyster! Therefore, I am grateful for this scholarship and possibility to be a part of BAFF."
Thank you Marta for sharing your culture and skill set with our country, and we wish you the greatest success in your future career.
Marta after the training on The da Vinci® Surgical System during the "RE-EVOLUTION SUMMIT" at HMH
Working together with colleagues Yusuf Chauhan, M.D. and Ponraj Chinna Durai (Siemens) for a Radiation Safety project in Hybrid OR at Houston Methodist Research Institute

BAFF Board Member pays a visit to Houston Interns

BAFF Board Director, Peter Ragauss, enjoyed a coffee break with Houston-based interns, Marta Lange (Latvia) and Kelli Somelar (Estonia), both who are interning at Houston Methodist Hospital. Kelli has been researching drug characterization and preclinical studies for Alzheimer's disease, and Marta has been working on a research project which focuses on radiation protection and the use of x-ray systems. Mr. Ragauss shared his comments about their visit together: "We had a great conversation about BAFF and the Baltics, and I can assure you they are both very excited and happy about the opportunity to be here in the USA. What a wonderful network that BAFF continues to build!"

Kelli Somelar, Peter Ragauss, Marta Lange

Liene Krekovska's Internship at Brand Assembly, NYC

Liene Krekovska

My professional internship landed me in the very heart of New York City in the start-up company called Brand Assembly which provides emerging as well as established fashion brands with diverse resources and services to help their businesses. Now, in 3 years, Brand Assembly has managed to be one of the game-changers in US fashion industry, by bringing new concepts of co-showing/co-working space for emerging designers both in New York City and Los Angeles. 3

I had an amazing opportunity to see and be a part of all angles of the business, starting from research for new emerging designers, assisting in organizing trade shows, working on photo shoots, creating visual materials for our markets, being an assistant to the buyer, to things like logistics and creating databases of buyers and more.

After one year in New York City - the capital of fashion - I’m back to Latvia full of ideas and energy to apply and share my experience and new knowledge to Latvian fashion brands. 

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Brand Assembly event
LA tradeshow
LA trade show


BA Square
Brand Assembly Square


BAFF Alumnus, Virginijus Sinkevicius, Elected to Lithuanian Parliament

Former BAFF intern, Virginijus Sinkevicius, has won a seat in the 2nd round of Lithuanian Parliament elections as MP for his personal constituency in Vilnius's Seskine district. He defeated his running mate, Audronius Azubalis, Conservative Party member and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a landslide victory of 56.93% to 40.37%. Virginijus Sinkevicius ran as the 26th member on the list of the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Party for a seat in both Parliament and his personal constituency in Vilnius. Virginijus is the second youngest member of this newly elected Parliament and currently heads the Regulatory Affairs Team of the Project Management Department at “Invest Lithuania”. Virginijus Sinkevicius

Virginijus is a graduate from Aberystwyth University, UK with a diploma in Bachelor of Economic, Social and Political Studies, as well as from Maastricht University, Holland, with a Master's in European Studies. He has also interned at the office of the Prime Minister of Lithuania in the Regional and Ethnic Issues Unit.

As a participant of the BAFF Professional Internship Program, Virginijus enjoyed his training period at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) from 2013-2014. During his year in the U.S., Virginijus became an active member of the Lithuanian American community, and taught children at the Lithuanian Saturday School in Washington DC. In addition to his dedicated community involvement, he offered a very prolific contribution to the BAFF blog. Please revisit Virginijus's internship adventures and reflections hereBlog 3 Blog 1 Blog 4 Blog2 Blog5


Intern Kristians Karlsons at Plug and Play Ventures, Sunnyvale CA



Intern Jelena Mironova at Applied Physics Systems, California

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Fall 2016 Enrichment Trip to New Orleans - Interculturalism and Entrepreneurialism

The final day of the New Orleans Enrichment Trip began with a morning seminar led by Exchange Foundations Director, Laura Lyons, whose presentation, Dimensions of Culture, demonstrated the clines of cultural programming in line with research conducted by Professor Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist. The presentation incited reflection on the overall variances in the predispositions of these relevant countries, according to Professor Hofstede's defined dimensions. Ms. Lyons summarized these dimensions which include Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism, and Masculinity (referring to the nature of dominant values). The group became attuned their own country's position on these paradigm scales in relation to that of their internship host country. The participants were then asked to participate in an interactive discussion pinpointing the values that they believed lie on the highest and lowest points of the American scale. 

Laura Lyons, Exchange Foundations Director

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Prior to this presentation, the meeting opened with a featured presentation by BAFF Alumni President for Lithuania, Kamile Gimbutaite, introducing the activities of the BAFF Alumni Association, as well as the career, networking and social benefits to membership. IMG_7356Kamile Gimbutaite, BAFF Alumni President, Lithuania

In the afternoon, the interns were hosted at The Idea Village, a nonprofit startup accelerator which has supported over 6,000 entrepreneurs committed solely to working in New Orleans. Beyond the equivalent underlying mission to burgeon enterprise, these two groups have crossed paths before this occasion. The BAFF Foundation sponsored a State Department project to promote entrepreneurialism in Latvia, and The Idea Village was chosen to work alongside incubators in Latvia to help develop Latvian startups. The audience also included the BAFF Board of Directors, who were keen to learn about the incubator's mission, as well as personally meet the presenters, Victoria Adam Phipps, Executive Director of NOEW, and Emily Egan, Director of IDEAVILLAGEx.

Emily Egan (left), Victoria Adam Phipps (right), The Idea Village

 IMG_7376Ambassador Michael C. Polt (BAFF Director)

IMG_7378Kim Davis, BAFF Chairman
Laura Lyons, CIEE Exchange Foundations Director, showing mention of The Idea Village inside the BAFF 5th Anniversary Book

Afterward, the interns, the CIEE staff, and the Board of Directors enjoyed an elegant dinner at Antoine's Restaurant, the oldest family-run restaurant in the United States.

Kelli Somelar (BAFF), Kristina Gelzinyte (BAFF)
Ambassador Michael Polt (BAFF Board Director), Zivile Vaicekauskaite (BAFF)

 IMG_7411Sander Sillavee (BAFF), Kristina Gelzinyte (BAFF)

Igor Shepelevs (BAFF), Robert C. Odle, Jr. (BAFF Board), Ilze Doskina (CIEE)
Krista Busa (BAFF), Rolands Bogdanovs (BAFF), Vytautas Tamulenas (BAFF)
Madis Kerner (BAFF), Johannes Reppo (BAFF), Andres Trink (BAFF Board)


Emilija Bruzgyte (BAFF), Danguole Altman (BAFF Board)


Jurgen Klemm (BAFF) giving speech on behalf of the interns
Elina Cire (BAFF)


Listening to the speech.
Zoltan Klimaj (HAESF), Alan Griffin (BAFF Board), David Tekan (HAESF)


Peter Ragauss (BAFF Baord), Agneska Avin (BAFF)
Vytautas Tamulenas (BAFF), The Honorable Mark Sullivan (BAFF Board)


Laima Egilte (BAFF), Kata Kiss (HAESF)


Fall 2016 Enrichment Trip to New Orleans - Volunteering and Jazz Cruise

The third morning of the Fall 2016 Enrichment Trip was designated for a volunteering project at New Orleans City Park. The cohort geared up in their grubbiest garb to partake in some muscle-building volunteerism in contribution to their adored host city. The project was directed by Connie Uddo, Executive Director of both the Nola Tree Project and the St. Paul’ s Homecoming Center, as well as Tyler Havens, Volunteer Manager of City Park Center. Shovels, pickaxes, pitchforks, wheel-barrels, water jugs, sweat-soaked hankies, and laughter were the only tools needed for planting the 40 trees (replacing the tens of thousands lost in Hurricane Katrina in 2005) and laying mulch for park trails. Despite the sweltering 85 degree heat, our BAFF and HAESF interns harbored no grievances. They heralded the satisfaction of these selfless deeds, the idyllic greenery, and the unrivaled companionship.

Kelli Somelar (BAFF), Igor Shepelevs (BAFF), Kristina Gelzinyte (BAFF), Kelly Francis (CIEE)
Maggie Ivanova (CIEE), Ursula Ilo (BAFF), Madis Kerner (BAFF)
Kaiu Koll (BAFF), Laima Egilte (BAFF), Kamile Gimbutaite (BAFF Alumni President, Lithuania)
Elina Cire (BAFF)
Ann Mirjam Vaikla (BAFF)
Zivile Marija Vaicekauskaite (BAFF), Jurgen Klemm (BAFF)
Krista Busa (BAFF), Johannes Reppo (BAFF), Vytautas Tamulenas (BAFF), Emilija Bruzgyte (BAFF), Bottom: Csaba Feher (HAESF)
Kata Kiss (HAESF), Jurgen Klemm (BAFF), David Tekan (HAESF), Zoltan Klimaj (HAESF)
Connie Uddo (Nola Tree Project), Rolands Bogdanovs (BAFF)
Ugis Zilde (BAFF)
Digging mulch

After about 3 hours of this philanthropic workout, the group settled down on a dock, and Connie  talked about her trajectory in the volunteering sector. In wake of Hurricane Katrina, she transformed her home into a refuge and resource center for her fellow Lakeview neighbors, and thereafter, established a second center for Katrina victims. She has coordinated over 65,000 volunteers and helped thousands of New Orleans residents rebuild their homes. Tyler Havens's expertise stems from his membership in AmeriCorps, and from having worked with Rebuilding Together New Orleans, a non-profit dedicated to the repair and revitalization of Nola neighborhoods. Now he serves as the Volunteer Manager for New Orleans City Park. Beyond the satisfaction of this one-of-a-kind bonding experience, the interns would ultimately leave the park never to forget these commendable Volunteer Directors, unequivocal catalysts in Louisiana's ongoing beautification and betterment. 

To reward the interns for their exhausting efforts, the group was boarded onto the Creole Queen paddlewheeler for an evening of quintessential food and live jazz music, as they peacefully cruised the grand Mississippi River.   IMG_7322 IMG_7324


Fall 2016 Enrichment Trip to New Orleans - Plantation and Film Festival

The Fall 2016 Enrichment Trip to New Orleans kicked off its first evening at the group's chic-styled Hotel le Marais. Hotel
Our BAFF and HAESF interns journeyed from cities across the United States, and were the guests of honor during the cocktail dinner mingle. Although many interns had anticipated their travels with an intern-rendezvous in Texas, for others, this was a first-time encounter with others living a similar scholarship experience. The courtyard was soon bustling with the exchanges of these new-found kindred souls, who delved deeply into topics of business, politics (American and European), cuisine, travel, shoe design, and more...   

Kelly Francis (CIEE), Elina Cire (BAFF)
Ann Mirjam Vaikla (BAFF) and Emilija Bruzgyte (BAFF)
Maggie Ivanova (CIEE), Kelli Somelar (BAFF)
Priit Noor (BAFF), Sander Sillavee (BAFF), Jurgen Klemm (BAFF)

Day two teleported this cultural cohort back in time to the historical Oak alley Plantation in Vacherie. Here, the group roamed under the canopied corridor of Wild Oak trees while enveloped by verdant fields and sugarcane, to climb the porch of the enchanting Greek Revival mansion.  Oak-Alley-Plantation-1-1024x576
During the antebellum era, this plantation was owned by the Roman family, whose livelihood depended on the cultivation of sugarcane, as well as the free and enslaved labor that kept their product profitable. In wake of the collapse of this slave economy, the decaying property would be rescued by the Stewart family, whose unrelenting dedication helped restore the plantation to its antebellum appearance, while forming the Foundation that would secure its longevity as a historical gem. The charming tour guide reminded the group that, since the mansion had been built brick-by-brick by its slaves, the Foundation wished to honor the memory and misfortune of these individuals by listing their names on the walls of the replica slave shacks. IMG_6751 IMG_6764 IMG_6748

In the evening, the interns returned to the city for a world premiere screening of the documentary "Shelter". Directed by Brent Renaud and Craig Renaud, the film chronicles the ongoing struggles encountered by the Covenant House, a catholic homeless shelter in New Orleans. The film showcases several individuals whose lives have been plagued by mental illness, poverty and domestic abuse. However, the story is most centered on the story of Elizabeth, whose degree of mental illness and drug abuse is indubitably the most disconcerting to the shelter staff. The audience would ultimately find themselves tear-stricken during the Q&A when the film's protagonists appeared before the audience, including the still fragile yet improved Elizabeth. Following the screening's Q&A, the interns enjoyed a special presentation by representatives of the New Orleans Film Society. Monika Baudoin, Director of Operations, and Clint Bowie, Director of Programming, who summarized the logistics of organizing this prodigious Film Festival, as well as emphasized the growth that the Festival has endured since its inception, and the solutions they have implemented to manage the Festival's increasing volume.

Film society
New Orleans Film Society staff


Kitija Krumina's internship at SAP Labs, Palo Alto California


About a year ago I came to California with a lot of inspiration to learn and experience things in America. So I had an internship in big enterprise software company SAP. I worked in one of the offices which is called “SAP Silicon Valley Innovation Center”. It is a place where a lot of interns work on exciting projects using newest technology. I got to work on multiple projects where I learned to listen, communicate and do my programming work with team members. Thanks to smart and interesting people who come to California from all over the world, this internship has made me more confident and has improved my perception of life - now I see much more opportunities in my future career.

As I have been in SAP about a year – I have seen how hard is the competition for interns to get internships, so I am very thankful to BAFF program, that gave the funding to make this internship to happen much easier!

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