Staff Spotlight: Stephen Bush

Teach Abroad Director
Stephen joined CIEE in 2011 and facilitated Study Abroad programs in Amman, Jordan before moving to Portland, Maine where he now manages Teach Abroad programs. He taught abroad in Cairo, Egypt after college and loves to facilitate similarly life-changing experiences for others.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Stephen from CIEE Teach Abroad

While teaching English in Cairo, I took a trip with a friend to the northern coast and western desert of Egypt. We started out by taking the train from Cairo to Alexandria where we enjoyed walking along the corniche, a promenade with dramatic views of the Mediterranean Sea, 19th century hotels and cafes, and the Library of Alexandria.

From Alexandria we traveled nine hours by bus through the western desert until we arrived at the Siwa Oasis where an isolated Berber community maintains its unique culture and traditions. While looking out from a hilltop at Siwa's thousands of date trees growing in the middle of a vast desert I was reminded of how richly diverse this world is and how privileged we are to be able to explore it.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

It is an honor to work with colleagues from around the world and to have the opportunity to visit the various countries where we offer programs but it can also be challenging to adapt effectively to different cultural contexts.

While working in Amman I learned a lot from my Jordanian colleagues who were gracious and patient when I was slow to understand how their cultural values shaped their views of situations. All CIEE employees go through an intercultural training program and that training has also helped me to gain tools for understanding cultural differences.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I always like hearing stories from alumni who have ended up staying and living long term in the countries where they taught abroad.

Most people who teach abroad only plan to stay for a year or two but occasionally it turns into a lifetime when they fall in love with the culture - or literally fall in love.

One of our alums first traveled to Thailand over 10 years ago to teach English, became enamored with Thai culture, and has lived there ever since.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

That's easy - Teach in China! I first traveled to China a couple years ago to observe a Teach in China orientation in Shanghai and I was completely fascinated by how quickly the country is changing and developing.

It blew my mind to ride the Maglev high speed train from the airport to downtown Shanghai at a speed of 270 mph in a country that industrialized relatively recently. I was impressed by the young Chinese students I met and how eager they were to learn English. If I don't get the chance to teach in China in the near future I will have to do it during retirement, but who knows how China will have changed by then!