Route J-1


Hospitality Beyond Borders

Posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 at 8:34 pm.

By Jewel Bartido Villanueva, J-1 Intern from the Philippines

Editor’s Note: We asked J-1 participants to answer a few questions about their experience. Below are responses from Jewel Bartido Villanueva.

Jewel discovers the Wonders of the Sea at SeaWorld

Route J-1: Jewel, It’s so nice to meet you. Tell me, how’s your internship going?

Jewel: My internship is going well. It’s been a great chance for me to grow professionally in the hospitality industry in one of the greatest host properties. Hawks Cay Resort values students and graduates that want to train with them.

Route J-1: That’s good news. Is there anything your host employer did to make your transition into your new job easier?

Jewel: Yes, when I started working, my employer hosted employee gatherings to welcome the new members of the team, just like me. I was able to meet and socialize with the people I would be working with. There was food and games for us. And we also received updates about the resort. I had fun with my coworkers during this time because I got a chance to know and interact with them. Also, we had a New Hire Orientation/Training that familiarized us with the work culture and standards of our host property.

Jewel explores the Southernmost Point in the USA – Key West Florida!

Route J-1: So, I understand you’ve had a pretty exciting month….

Jewel: This past month I celebrated my birthday. My wonderful roommates woke me up with a surprise! They decorated the whole living room with balloons, sang happy birthday to me, and bought me a cake. In the afternoon, we went to the beach and had fun. At night, friends from work and outside work came over to celebrate my birthday. It was a really fun birthday for me. Also this past month, the Super Bowl happened. Since I’m now working in a sports bar and restaurant, it was a big day for us. We had menu specials, games, and giveaways. The whole restaurant was decorated with football themed decor. It was a good night and all our guests had fun while watching the game.

Route J-1: I’m curious. What have you learned from your exchange experience?

Jewel: Every day is a new chance to learn something new. Every experience that happens to you today will help you tomorrow. It’s like the pages of a book that you have to read to understand the next part of the story. Working in the Hospitality industry of the United States has shown me a great overview of the American culture. The Philippines is known for being a hospitable country but this internship has given me a different perspective of hospitality. It taught me to ask a random stranger how his day is going. It taught me to give a sincere smile at a passerby. It taught me to be caring to somebody you barely even know. 

Jewel enjoying the sunshine with other J-1 participants in the Florida Keys

Route J-1: Speaking of learning something new every day, is there anything that has surprised or amazed you about your exchange experience?

Jewel: I’m truly amazed by the wide and diverse scope of my training. In everyday work, I encounter guests and also co-workers from all over the world. And with each of these encounters and interactions, I notice differences in culture and individuality. I am lucky to share conversations with these people and to be able to learn and also share my own culture.

Route J-1: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

Jewel: As my internship program is coming to an end, I would like to thank American Hospitality Academy and my employer for giving [me] the opportunity to grow and expand my knowledge and skills in the hospitality industry. I’ve learned a lot of things that have helped me to be a better person in and outside of work. I will share all the knowledge, skills and experience I gained from my internship in my next job in the Philippines. Also, I will never forget all the people that have been part of this journey of mine. Everyone that I have encountered in this internship has taught me something I can use in the future. The memories I shared with them will always be in my heart and soul.

Categories: Program Spotlight

About G. Kevin Saba

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange


G. Kevin Saba serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.

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