Our CIEE Interns who are sponsored by the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation, the Hungarian-American Enterprise Scholarship Fund, and our brand new addition, the Albanian-American Development Foundation, gathered in Atlanta for the February 2018 Enrichment Trip. With a new flag in our multinational miscellany, the CIEE interns reveled in a four-day itinerary of professional enlightenment, cultural engagement, anthropological discovery, and culinary indulgence.
Our first evening introduced the Interns into the pseudo-underground world of Atlanta, at Red Phone Booth, the ultimate speakeasy concept. With a clandestine entrance (or rather, an incongruous British red phone booth in downtown Atlanta), our group dialed a numeric access code into the booth phone, which would reveal a secret passageway into the enormous restaurant. There, our group conversed and shared stories about their internships, cities, living situations, culture shock, and politics.
The second day of the tour was an all-day outing. Our first appointment was a visit to Techstars Atlanta. This accelerator boasts success in providing “entrepreneurs with the resources and network to building meaningful enterprise technology companies and enduring consumer brands.” In this industrial-style open-space venue, we were greeted by Rachel Ford, Director of Techstars Atlanta. Her dynamic presentation outlined the crux of their successful startup program, including their classes, mentorship program, and its venture capital fund. Our interns were intrigued, and drilled this influential and knowledgeable business professional with curious questions. After our visit at Techstars, our group scattered to explore the vicinities, including the restored historic structure in which Techstars resides, the Ponce City Market. A former Sears, Roebuck & Co. factory, this magnificent landmark has become a hub for dining, shopping, entertainment, as well as home to several offices and living quarters.
Our next stop was the David J. Sencer Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Museum, for an in-depth look at the word’s most harrowing killers, including Ebola, Polio, and Small Pox. The interns were introduced to the scope of the CDC’s role in the face of an emerging epidemic, and learned about the logistics entailed, from building interim hospitals, to educating the public, to thwarting misconception.
With Guinea Worm on the brain, our group worked up their appetites! This time, instead a sit-down dinner, our group was put to work. At Team Building with Taste, we were warmly welcomed by their staff of culinary experts, with wine, appetizers, and a briefing about our mission for the evening. Like stepping onto the Master Chef studios, five teams were assigned a specific meal to cook like never before, with the goal of achieving a winning taste, presentation, and pitch. Team Building with Taste had us fast at work in their industrial kitchen, prepping, chopping, grilling, and arranging, all with the expert consultation of our team Sous Chef. The results were delectable! Lots of Chef Hat Awards were distributed around the room, but the winning dish stood above all others…literally, elevated from the plate on sticks.
Our volunteering activity kicked off the next rainy day. CIEE was thrilled to have found an organization unique to very few cities. We stepped into the Books for Africa warehouse to meet James Hall, head of warehouse staff. James explained the mission of the organization, which is to fill the book void that has plagued many countries in Africa due to poverty, war or tyrannical rule. Books for Africa collects second-hand scholastic and fictional books in their warehouse, Volunteers sort through all books and categorize them by age group and topic, and then they are shipped to schools and public facilities in Africa. What better volunteering activity than with a walk down memory lane, digging up Nancy Drew, the Babysitters’ Club, the Hardy Boys, and Good Night Moon?
Later in the afternoon, our interns visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights, commencing with a speaker talk from Mr. Allen Lee, Senior Public Programs and Education Manager for the Center. Mr. Lee discussed the mission of the Center, its current Martin Luther King, Jr. exhibit, and it role in promoting social awareness. Mr. Lee also targeted the audience by touching upon global rights issues and corporate responsibility. Inspired by this insightful address, the group slowly moved through the museum, following the timeline of the Civil Rights Movement, viewing footage of MLK’s funeral procession, and tested their will power on the interactive lunch counter sit-in simulation. That evening, interns enjoyed some southern cooking and a live jazz performance at Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint. After a special dessert and serenading, our intern, Aldis Zalaiskalns, commented that it was his best birthday ever.
The fourth day of the Atlanta Enrichment Trip began with an interactive presentation conducted by Laura Lyons, Director of Exchange Foundations. Her presentation, Dimensions of Culture, highlights the continuum 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 different cultures, 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 interns grew attuned their own country’s position on these paradigm scales in relation to that of their internship host country, the US. They then participated in an interactive discussion pinpointing the values that they believed typically lied on the highest and lowest points of the American scale, based on their experiences in the US. After a quick lunch, our group enjoyed a guided tour of CNN International, and in the evening, bade their adieus at White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails.
The following morning, preregistered interns attended a Dale Carnegie Leadership Workshop, where attendees discussed ways to integrate diplomatic and tactful communication into their workday, as well as tactics for enhancing relationships.