Staff Spotlight: Rebecca Kahn-Witman


Rebecca Kahn-Witman is a George Washington University alumni and participated in CET Jewish Studies in Prague because she wanted to explore her Jewish roots. After returning from Prague, she began working at CET Academic Programs and is currently working as the Prague Programs Coordinator.

What position do you hold at CET? What has been your career path so far?

Rebecca: Currently, I am the Prague Programs Coordinator and work with students from the time they decide to participate in a CET program to the day they depart for Prague. I originally started with CET over three years ago (wow!) as the intern and have seen several different roles while with CET, but the Prague Programs Coordinator position is the most fun and rewarding for me. Who wouldn’t love to talk about Prague all day with students?

Why did you decide to study abroad with CET?

Rebecca: I was very lucky that The George Washington University Study Abroad Office had an extensive list of programs that I could participate in. I wanted to go somewhere that I was unfamiliar with so I started looking into programs in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Eastern Europe. Previously, I had spent a summer semester abroad in Israel and wanted to experience a new program in a different location.

The CET Jewish Studies in Prague program really stood out to me as a unique culture experience. Not only was I tracing the roots of my family in the region, but I would be living with locals and learning to immerse myself in the culture of the Czech Republic.

What made this experience unique and special?

Rebecca: There are many pieces of the program which made my abroad experience unique and special. Let’s start with unique – CET students live in independent apartments located in central locations within Prague. So not only was I living with a local roommate, but my neighbors were Czech and learned many of the customs and what it is like to actually live like a Czech! We also had classes taught by professionals in the field, so we were learning information from the best of the best with lectures, participating experiential learning, and reading pertinent documents and essays that enhanced our knowledge in the field.

I could go on for a while about what made this program extremely special, but for me it had a lot to do with the familial aspect of the program. Yes, we visited concentration camps. Yes, we learned about the struggles and the triumphs of the Jewish people of the region. But none of that would have been as meaningful if I didn’t have the support network of my other CET participants as well as the CET staff in Prague. I think for me the people were really the most unique and special part of my whole semester.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Rebecca: I am constantly realizing how much this program has impacted me. I still don’t fully think I’ve recovered from reverse culture shock! As I mentioned before, I have made some of the most amazing friends from abroad. I feel like a lot of people come back and think they’ve made friends for life and then people fall out of touch. Nope, not us. We experienced too much together. These friends will be there forever and are people I don’t think I could continue in my day to day life without.

Academically, the program encouraged me to expand my knowledge of Judaic Studies and embrace my religion and my culture in a whole different way. I have taken what I learned with CET and incorporated it into my academic goals. And professionally, well, it just so happened that CET had an open internship in Washington, DC. So far, my abroad experience with CET has really defined my professional career and I cannot wait to see where this journey takes me next!

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the CET team.

Rebecca: All the time! Is that a copout of an answer? It’s true though. We have about 60 people who work for CET around the world and we all collaborate very well together. Our staff is incredible motivated, innovated, and fun. If you want to see for yourself – stop by our office in DC during Friday lunches for ‘Burrito Friday’!

What is one piece of advice you'd give future CET students?

Rebecca: For future CET students, I would definitely say to take advantage of your location and try to immerse yourself. That may sound silly or cliché, but CET offers an incredibly unique opportunity to their students by enabling them to live and learn with local students. My biggest regret about my semester abroad was not visiting more small towns within the Czech Republic. Many of my classmates went home with their Czech buddies to their hometowns which was something I was unable to do. I think that would have been an incredible experience and shown me a whole side of the Czech Republic that I didn’t get as much exposure to.

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

Rebecca: The best stories I’ve heard from students are actually recurring. Students who participate in the CET Film Production in Prague Program get hands-on experience making films. Dozens of students who have participated in the program have had their films selected for both domestic and international film festivals. This exposure is invaluable and the students really do take the next steps in their career as a result of the program. It is incredible to see their joy and success once they have completed the program and for the years beyond.