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Council for Educational Travel, USA

CETUSA is dedicated to the mission of "reaching out to encourage a lifelong journey of global peace and understanding." We support this mission through the implementation of exchange programs for high school students - both American and international - and trainee and internship programs for university students/young professionals. This blog space is meant to continue the conversation on the value of education through experience - more specifically the experience of study abroad. There will be guest blogs here as well as announcements of resources for students, parents and teachers to learn more about study abroad and the global perspective.

Author archive for: Eric Messing

Student of the Week (7.25.16): Lissy from Germany!

Posted in High School Program, Host Family, and Student of the Week

Lissy from Germany

Congratulations to our Student of the Week: Lissy from Germany!

Lissy joined us in March following an emergency placement. We were apprehensive, but never hesitated. She has been an absolute joy and the thought of her leaving already is so hard. We fell in love hard with this girl and never expected to.

Some of our fondest memories of and with her will be her infectious smile and laugh. Her laughing at us trying to say words in German and our deep Southern accents throwing it off had us all collapsing into fits of giggles. Her attempt to try and use our slang was also very funny. Her genuine smile when something made her happy or when she was playing with the little ones around here (we have 4 grandkids that live nearby and they adore her). She is constantly telling us that she is taking the baby home with her! Her witty, smart alecky comebacks when my husband or my kids throw some wise crack out to her really made her a hit with our family and she became one of us very quickly! The last day of school, she got in my car and we sat there and hugged while she cried, we stayed there as long as she felt she needed to in order to come to grips with the fact that this was it. We both cried and my heart just broke for her.

For my birthday, the day before hers, she and my husband planned a surprise birthday party for me, it was amazing! She was so happy and she just glowed when she saw that she pulled it off. She gave me a framed picture of her with different poses and even included 2 of the grandkids that are here daily with her because I babysit them. That was the best present I have ever received! Later that afternoon, we shocked her by throwing a surprise party for her and one of our other grandsons, whose birthday is 3 days before hers. That was not something she expected at all. I loved seeing her eyes light up and the happy tears swimming in those big, beautiful blue eyes of hers.

Lissy: I liked everything, it is so hard to choose just a few: it felt like I was living what I saw in the movies…the school spirit, the students dancing, prom, sports games, the half time show at football games.

‘World Oceans Day’ Beach Cleanup – One Intern’s Perspective

Posted in CETUSA News, and Trainee/Internship


As you may have heard, World Ocean’s Day was last month and we received lots of stories and photos from our participants taking part in beach cleanups. One of those stories came from Yao Chieh “Jeff” Hu. Jeff told us all about the great experience he had with a few other CETUSA participants at a World Oceans Day beach cleanup at Aquarium of the Bay. This is what he had to say:


Since the jet lagged problem, I woke up at 4 in the early morning and decided to start off my journey of the day. The streets were silent. There’s no man chatting, bird chirping and wheel running. What I feel like real, is the pulse of my heart. And here I started off. It took me an hour or so to the beach. I arrived as the sun rose up, and the entire world woke up. Shin Nishimura and Taoda (Masa) Masahiro, another two interns from CETUSA, were nice Japanese guys, we tried our best to clean the entire beach up. Though the beach is not quite large, there were still a lot of trashes, plastics and cigarettes. In the end, there were 1,170 cigarettes collected. What the beach cleanup means for me, was the feeling of some contribution to the world and a decent sort of workout. We then went for the pier. We visited around the beach and piers, having great food in a well-known seafood restaurant BOUDIN and visiting the pier to watch quite a few busker shows. Next stop is the warship museum, where we ran into several retired WWII battle ships. Most of them had the introduction for tourists stating how many Japanese ships they destroyed during WWII. It suddenly occurred to me that the history is moving on the way. Even though there were so many conflicts between countries at that time, for now, people are free to travel around the world. That’s the peace. And what we live for, is to keep this. 🙂

Jeff and Shin

Pictured above are Shin Nishimura (left) and Jeff Hu (right) along with some of the trash they found during the beach cleanup. Below is a picture of Jeff Hu (left) and Masahiro Taoda (right) riding one of San Francisco’s famous cable cars. Shin and Masahiro are both involved in business and finance programs while Jeff is a software engineer intern.

Jeff and Masa

Do you have anything you’d like to share on the CETUSA blog? Send your stories and photos to your program administrator or to Kody at

Student of the Week (7.18.16): Johanna from Germany!

Posted in CETUSA News, Host Family, and Student of the Week

Johanna from Germany 7.18.16

This is our second experience hosting an exchange student and I can tell you one thing; my family and I don’t even think of her as an exchange student! Johanna has a one of a kind personality, she is not afraid of anything. Since day one she has been motivated and excited to integrate herself into the American culture. According to her host mom, “she joined right into the family as if she has always been a part of our family.”


Even before Johanna arrived in the United States, she was motivated to participate in both marching band and swimming. Although the school schedule would only allow her to participate in one, she chose swimming and succeeded to earn her varsity letter. Johanna has kept good grades while participating in school and family activities and she has made friends easily with both American and fellow exchange students. We have made many memories traveling throughout the United States. As Johanna would say, “all I need is food, shoes, and shopping.” Our family has now expanded over to Germany, and we are looking forward to lifelong memories.


Johanna says, “I am really enjoying my life here in Mt. Pleasant. My host family has become my American family. When I was in Germany I never expected to travel and see so much of the United States! For example, my host family took me to the U.P. as well as to Florida. In school and in clubs I made a lot of close friends and learned about the American High School Spirit. My friends in school and my host family have always helped me, for example, on the first day of school, my host sister showed me where the rooms for my classes were and even how to open my locker. I always had somebody to talk to and thanks to all of these people I didn’t really get homesick at all during my ten months. My host family and I did a lot of fun things together and it’s hard to pick a favorite memory, but if I had to pick one, it would be that my host family and I got into several water fights. We would dump full bottles of water on each other’s heads, even inside the house!

Congratulations, Johanna!

CETUSA Alumni: Alina from Peru

Posted in Alumni, CETUSA News, and Trainee/Internship

As always, we love to hear any and all feedback from our participants about their time on the program. Recently, we’ve been reaching out to program alumni to see what they thought about their time with CETUSA and discuss their experiences. Last week, I had a chance to speak with Alina from Lima, Peru.

Alina was an intern at Scripps Research Institute in Southeast Florida. While she wasn’t allowed to explicitly say what her research project was, Alina was able to tell me that it was focused around nutrition and aging. According to Alina, the work was very intense and mentally demanding, but ultimately fulfilling. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at now without my internship through CETUSA,” she explained, “it really reaffirmed that this was what I wanted to do”.

After finishing her program, Alina returned to Lima to finish her B.S. in Biology. She has since moved on from academia and is working in research and development at a food company in Lima, though she may want to return to school to earn her Master’s in Food Science and Technology.

I asked Alina about what she remembered most about her time in the US and her face instantly lit up from the happy memories. The first thing she mentioned was going to see the blue moon on a beach at night. Interestingly enough, her other favorite memory involved going to the beach as well, going to see giant sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand. “They bury them so deep!” Alina exclaimed as she was describing the experience to me. Overall, she has very fond memories of the United States. She told me all about how polite Americans were during her time here and how she enjoyed talking to people every day.

Alina Soto-Obando - flyroom (1)

Alina developed a good relationship with her supervisor during her time at Scripps. She told me that the person in charge of her research group was one of her closest friends while she was in the US. The two have stayed in close contact even after Alina’s program ended. “A few papers we worked on together are being published so we have to talk because of that,” Alina tells me, but then goes on to explain that they had been in touch besides that as well. In fact, Alina even told me that when the company she works for now had to travel to California for an industry exhibition, she made a point to stop in Florida just to see her supervisor as well as another friend she had made who was still interning at Scripps.

It’s clear to see how beneficial this program was for Alina. She was able to get fantastic real world experience while also becoming familiar with a completely different culture from her own. This is exactly what we love to see come out of the program, participants who are able to take the knowledge they gained from their training or internship and apply to their careers. We would like to wish Alina all the best in her career.

Are you a CETUSA Alumni and would like to share your story? Please send an email to for more information.

Student of the Week (7.11.16): Kathrin from Germany!

Posted in CETUSA News, Host Family, and Student of the Week

Kathrin from Germany

Our student Kathrin has really made this host family proud!  Our family owns and operates one of Texarkana’s radio stations.  We are busy with school games, festivals, new business openings, celebrations, city functions, AND are Texas Rangers faithful fans!  She has had many accomplishments and adventures in her time here; she attended her first Ranger game and wore her Texas straw hat, went to Homecoming, and went to Prom with her host brother. She also placed 2nd in an art competition and was awarded “Show Award” that included a cash prize for her art, which was a dress constructed of paper! It is now out on public display for all to admire. It has been a great experience to see this one blossom as she has and is our “Yellow Rose of Texas”. Thank you Kathrin, and all the best to you.