CSULB Scholarship

The Adams International Internship Endowment

Linking University Classrooms with Life

In May 2023, I established the Adams International Internship Endowment through California State University Long Beach (CSULB) and its non-profit 49er Foundation. The fund will provide scholarships for liberal arts students participating in CSULB’s international internship program. As a bridge from university classrooms to adult life, it will enable both undergrads and graduate students to further their education while immersing themselves in other cultures.

Since 2021, CSULB’s international internship program has helped hundreds of students integrate education with real-world experiences in other countries.

Let’s rewind

My rationale for establishing this endowment goes back to my own college days. After my junior year at UCLA, I was ready for that university rite of passage: a backpacking trip through Europe. From part-time jobs, I’d saved a few hundred dollars – enough to fund a budget romp with a girlfriend.

The idea landed like a lead balloon with my middle-class parents. While we never went hungry, my father held down several jobs to make ends meet. In addition, he maintained the six-unit apartment building we lived in, purchased so my brother and I could attend Beverly Hills schools.

In 1954, my family was living the post-war American Dream. Clearly I was well fed, but my father worked several jobs to maintain our middle-class lifestyle. Travel was not in the household budget.

My dad could not fathom spending money on travel – a luxury he considered frivolous. Indeed, the only family vacation we took when I was growing up was a road-trip up California’s coast to British Colombia. “If you can afford to go to Europe, you can afford to pay for UCLA,” my father grumbled.

So I dragged my parents to an on-campus lecture about parent-child conflict given by my Psych I professor, the late Carl Faber. Hearing some of my arguments supported by the popular educator, my father finally caved. He and my mom blessed my plan to travel around Europe on my own savings the summer before I graduated from UCLA. 

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes  

Backpacking vs Study Abroad

Fast forward 34 years and my son Blake was about to graduate from CSULB. In his senior year, he announced a surprise: he’d been awarded a $5,000 scholarship from his university’s foreign languages department to study art in Florence, Italy.

My reaction was nothing like my father’s. I knew this year-long trip would be far more meaningful than my fast-paced adventures, giving my son time to absorb cultural nuances, become more fluent in a foreign language, and pursue his studies (among other things) in a new destination.

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

After graduating, Blake traveled extensively through Europe, as well as North and South America, on savings from his various jobs. Finding himself on Ecuador’s coast in spring 2016, he founded the Youth Motivation Association with a few other itinerant artists and surfers after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The makeshift school offered fun, sports, crafts and emotional support to kids left vulnerable by the massive damage.

How Travel Shapes Us

On an Ecuadorian beach, Blake met his future wife, a Colombian beauty working as a psychologist in the earthquake zone. The following year he proposed, surrounded by her family in Cali, Colombia. Blake and Lauriet are now raising their young son in Oceanside, California. In their home, they primarily speak Spanish.

Beyond shaping his life, my son’s escapades emboldened me. After my father died in 2007 at the ripe age of 89, I visited Blake in Italy, then made a random stop in the Netherlands. With no surviving parents, I decided to relocate from sunny Newport Beach, CA to soggy Amsterdam, NL.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ Andre Gide

Although I’d traveled the world in my first half-century of life, on leisure vacations as well as professional assignments, my move across the pond truly pushed me out of my comfort zone. Some 13 years later, I still face cultural and communication challenges. But the move has given me a wider world view and an understanding of foreign perspectives – something I could never gain on a vacation visit. Or worse yet, a cruise port excursion or Kontiki tour.

How to Contribute

This is my rationale for paying it forward through the Adams International Internship Endowment – to provide university students with practical, hands-on experiences that will further their studies while immersing them in other cultures. Through internships in foreign countries, they’ll advance their career goals while becoming global thinkers in an interconnected world. I hope you’ll support my initiative with a tax-deductible contribution. If my father were alive, I know he would approve.

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” ~ Anthony Bourdain