- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jennifer Nikolaeff, who speaks four languages fluently, rarely gets lost in translation.

As a new program coordinator at the International Center for Language Studies (ICLS) in Northwest, Ms. Nikolaeff is making sure foreign workers don’t get lost in America.

Ms. Nikolaeff leads the International Exchange and Business Training program at ICLS, where she helps foreign professionals connect with U.S. companies for 18-month internships.

ICLS is a private school that offers classes in English as a second language and teaches 80 languages to diplomats or contractors moving to foreign countries.

Many of Ms. Nikolaeff’s international students are participants of the State Department’s exchange visitor program.

Each year, the program grants temporary work visas to a few thousand foreign nationals so they may teach, study or conduct research in America.

Ms. Nikolaeff helps these exchange workers brush up on their English and business skills so they can make the most of their experience.

Ms. Nikolaeff said her favorite part of the job is helping foreign students adjust to life in the U.S.

“There are some students that come in with a culture shock, but once they start learning and understanding American culture, they learn to fit in,” Ms. Nikolaeff said. “I like seeing international friendships being made; it’s like watching someone blossom.”

Ms. Nikolaeff was a Peace Corps volunteer who helped develop business plans for a Bulgarian town of 7,000 people. Eighteen months later, Ms. Nikolaeff returned to her home in Denver to study global affairs at the University of Denver.

Ms. Nikolaeff was most recently a program assistant at the university’s language program.

In August, Ms. Nikolaeff moved to Adams Morgan to continue her international career path.

“I felt like I had done it all in Denver, and in order to move my career further, I had to move it to a more international location,” she said.

Ms. Nikolaeff said her primary goal is to help the ICLS’ fledgling business exchange program grow.

It’s not an easy job, Ms. Nikolaeff said. “Sometimes it’s hard to find good companies to hire exchange visitors.”

Since the September 11 attacks, many U.S. companies have been hesitant to hire young professionals from other countries, she said.

“We expect Jen to take the lead in working with [our current] host companies and building relationships with more host companies for the future,” said Karen Decker, president and owner of ICLS.

“So far she’s done very well,” Ms. Decker said. “She has a lot of initiative and can work with a lot of people from around the world.”

Ms. Nikolaeff earned her bachelor’s degree in 1994 from Metropolitan State College in Denver, where she majored in literature and history.

— Bryce Baschuk

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