Valerie Kurka

I was born and raised in the wonderful state of Wisconsin and look forward to a new chapter here in beautiful New England.

My international interest actually started in the United States during a summer job at Glacier National Park in Montana. There, nearly half of the 100 staff members were from all over the world. It was my first experience immersed in so many different cultures, languages, and new ideas. My desire for more international encounters soon led me to a backpacking trip across Europe, a wonderful undergraduate study abroad experience in South Africa, a service-learning trip to Israel/Palestine, and various other international learning opportunities.


After graduating in 2006 with a degree in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I became a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa (2006-2008). There I utilized my science background as a chemistry teacher in a rural secondary school. In addition, I also did work in HIV/AIDS education. This experience provoked my curiosity about education and learning and inspired me to continue in the education field. 

After returning to the United States, I had various experiences working with youth. Most notably, I was a short-term AmeriCorps volunteer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I worked at an urban high school in a corrective mathematics program. My international and cross-cultural experiences have enriched my life in more ways than I could have imagined.  For instance, they helped me see new perspectives outside of my life in America and gain awareness in world issues.  I am also better able to appreciate and respect differences in all types of people. Additionally, they helped me realize how personal experience is invaluable education.


I am very excited to be a part of the diverse CIE community in such a unique program which recognizes this. I believe cross-cultural exchange can be positive and can enhance lives in a variety of ways. I wish to continue to facilitate and promote cross-cultural exchanges so others may benefit as well. CIE is the perfect environment for learning and cultivating these tools


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CIE Graduate