Bridge Builder International Representatives
Bringing the World Together Since 1947
CIEE honors these Champions of International Exchange for their support of study abroad and international exchange programs that transform lives and build bridges between nations. This group consists of forward-thinking leaders in the field of higher education, international exchange, government, philanthropy, and more. While the winners represent a variety of backgrounds, they are unified by a common purpose: strengthening people-to-people exchange programs that build relationships across cultures and nurture greater global understanding.
CIEE honors these exceptional international representatives for the bridges they build by connecting students and young people from around the world with opportunities to live and study or work in the United States. These partners bring the world together by creating pathways for curious, open-minded individuals to interact with new cultures and see new ways of thinking while sharing their own culture and customs.
CIEE honors the South Africa-based CIEE international representative Awesome Travel for their support of participants who come primarily on Internship USA, Professional Career Training USA, and Camp Counselor USA programs. They stand out for their dedication to increasing diversity and access to CIEE exchange programs, demonstrating expertise in recruiting young people in rural and disadvantaged communities. In 2019, in collaboration with CIEE and the South African Ministry of Sport and Recreation, Awesome Travel began the Thuma Mina Scholarship program which sponsored more than 50 participants from diverse backgrounds to be camp counselors in the U.S. that summer. Starting in 2021, CIEE collaborated with Awesome Travel on the Department of State-sponsored program in South Africa to grow the number of young South Africans who have study or work experiences in the United States.
CIEE honors BUNAC for its contribution to international exchange. Established in 1962, BUNAC is recognized as a specialist in overseas work, travel, and volunteer programs and has enabled more than 500,000 people to explore the world and gain valuable life skills. They were important partners when CIEE launched its Camp Exchange USA services.
BUNAC brings the world closer together through their efforts to remove barriers to international education. They strive to make work and travel easy so that more people can gain a global perspective and forge relationships across cultures. Motivated by the truth that every person we meet and memory we make connects us across borders, BUNAC encourages participants to be understanding and compassionate global citizens who can contribute to a more tolerant world.
“We know that every time we send someone abroad, they're making connections and friends for life that cross borders and bridge divides. Through 60 years of experience, we know how life-shaping these experiences are for young people around the world.” – Lucy Lynch, BUNAC
CIEE honors FSL and the Kristic Family for their longstanding partnership with CIEE across our programs and for their support for exchange programs in Spain. FSL, formerly a CIEE office, has worked with CIEE for 25 years, sending close to 200 students each year. In recent years, Ivan has been running the business with his daughters Sofia and Elena. Not only are the Kristics stewards of CIEE programs, including High School USA and Summer Work Travel, but they also work closely on scholarship programming, including the FAO Scholarship.
“At the end of the story are our students…their ability to learn from other cultures, share ours, create strong relationship that will last forever.”—Sofia and Elena Kristic, FSL
CIEE honors Peru-based INTEJ for being CIEE's longest standing Winter Work & Travel USA representative, annually sending 500+ students. Over the last 23+ years INTEJ has weathered many challenging moments with a smile. Work and Travel Manager Percy Rayagada has a tremendous spirit that his staff and students seem to share.
“For us, promoting international exchanges is to be able to contribute to the integral formation of young people and thus stimulate their creativity, entrepreneurship, their critical attitude and that they achieve personal growth with which it is also possible to form a better future for them and our country.” -- Percy Raygada, INTEJ
Tongchit Lawvinitnun, OEG
CIEE honors Thailand-based OEG and their managing director Tongchit Lawvinitnun in recognition of their longstanding partnership with CIEE on both inbound and outbound exchange programs. CIEE and OEG have worked together for 25+ years across CIEE inbound programs. And, since 2000, OEG has collaborated with CIEE to offer the Teach in Thailand program, placing thousands of English teachers in Thai schools where they have helped develop the English proficiency of hundreds of thousands of students.
OEG has always gone above and beyond to provide exceptional support for CIEE Teach Abroad participants allowing them to be successful both inside and outside the classroom. For example, in 2021 when teachers were isolated in their homes due to COVID restrictions, OEG prepared care packages for each CIEE teacher.
While in high school, OEG founder Tongchit Lawvinitnun was a youth representative of Thailand, visiting ASEAN countries and Japan. This experience inspired her to launch OEG.
" I got to see my own culture through a new lens, and I learned how similar we are to those in other countries. The cultural exchange experiences have changed my way of thinking and overall worldview. I feel so lucky and proud that, through the collaboration between CIEE and OEG, we can provide similar opportunities to the youth. The knowledge and experiences from our global cultural exchange programs are not only enriching, but essential for the 21st century." – Tongchit Lawvinitnun, OEG
CIEE honors Parenthèse for their long term and excellent representation of CIEE BridgeUSA programs in France. Parenthèse is the leading BridgeUSA representative in France, annually recruiting 1,500+ participants for CIEE Programs. Their commitment to excellence is reflected in their participants. Parenthèse opens doors by simplifying participant access to international experiences.
“[Working in international exchange] has been endlessly rewarding for the last decades and nothing portrays it better than the letters and emails we receive every day, telling us how we have changed their life.” -- Maryam Bozorgmehr, Parenthèse
CIEE honors United Towers, which has been a CIEE international representative in Turkey for more than 17 years, for their commitment to international exchange. Each year United Towers sends 1,000+ participants on the CIEE Work & Travel USA program. We are consistently impressed with United Towers’ high level of communication and organization.
“I am also a former CIEE Work and Travel USA program participant (summer 2003). The impact this program had on me in my early youth was constructive, reassuring, and stimulating,. Now, I and United Towers have been working with CIEE for 20 years to promote international exchange programs. Every day we touch the lives of thousands of young people. Seeing the peaceful, converging and unifying impacts of the program on the youth gave me purpose. Thanks to these programs, young people will continue to contribute to the fusion of cultures at a global level for many years to come.” Hakan Karatas, United Towers
CIEE honors USIT for their commitment to nurturing a happier world through life-changing work and travel experiences. USIT was one of CIEE's first Work & Travel agents, having worked with CIEE since its foundation in 1967. USIT continues to be a leading international representative today, each year sending over 2,000 Irish students to the U.S. across all work exchange programs. USIT is also a sponsor of CIEE’s 2022 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, a summer leadership program for American students of color that will take place in Ireland.
CIEE honors Italy-based YouAbroad because of their passion for international exchange and their efforts to help high school students build a bright future through unforgettable international experiences. CIEE has worked closely with YouAbroad for eight years and they are one of CIEE’s largest international representatives for the J-1 High School program.
CIEE is presenting 75 CIEE Bridge Builder Awards to those individuals and institutions – from host families to study abroad advisors, from politicians to employers – whose efforts and influence over the last 75 years have strengthened international education and exchange.