Happy 65th Birthday, IES Abroad

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Kiah Zellner-Smith
September 18, 2015

On September 19, 1950, 23 American students boarded the SS Volendam bound for Vienna.

These students—our first!—would spend the next year studying, volunteering in war recovery efforts, and living in Vienna on the first IES Abroad program (then known as the Institute of European Studies). Paul Koutny, an idealistic Austrian student who envisioned the project while living in the U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship, met the students at the ship and escorted them to Vienna.

Among those wide-eyed, eager students who believed that studying abroad would enrich their lives and give them a deeper understanding of another culture were Clarence and Alberta Giese, young newlyweds from Chicago. The Gieses were so inspired by their Viennese adventure that upon returning home, they sold everything they owned and helped Mr. Koutny bring another group of students to Vienna. And then another and another…. 

IES Abroad started as a dream to these three optimistic post-war students—a dream to use study abroad as a catalyst for peace.

Today, more than 65 years and 100,000 students later, we’re still living the dream. Every day we see how studying abroad changes students’ lives. 

As a not-for-profit organization that has always put purpose before profit, we’re proud of our legacy and leadership in the study abroad field. We believe in the transformative power of learning and living abroad—it’s why we do what we do.

How will study abroad redefine you? We can’t wait to find out. 

Happy 65th Birthday, IES Abroad!

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Kiah Zellner-Smith

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