Route J-1


J-1 Adventures in Florida

Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2015 at 2:15 pm.

J-1 Intern Justine Ye Ning Cawthorne of the United Kingdom helps cast a net to bring in sea life for counting and observing on Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Sea Life Safari Boat

J-1 Intern Justine Ye Ning Cawthorne of the United Kingdom helps cast a net to bring in sea life for counting and observing on Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Sea Life Safari Boat

Route J-1’s subtext is “Discovering the World in Your Hometown” because of the sheer number of hosting communities all across the United States. People are often astonished to learn that the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program bridges communities in all 50 states with participants from 200 countries around the world. Two hundred! In every state! Our website’s handy tool allows you to see how many participants are currently on program in each state. The EVP brings to life international cultures and faraway countries for the American public. These days, as a part of my vacation preparation routine, I check to see if any J-1s are on program at my destination.

Last week, I took my daughters on a trip to Clearwater and Cape Canaveral, Florida. Our first stop was Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA), where we visited the most famous dolphin in the world, Winter, and her best friend Hope.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium: Home of dolphins Winter and Hope

Clearwater Marine Aquarium: Home of dolphins Winter and Hope

Not surprising to me, CMA is a J-1 host. There I met Justine, an undergraduate student of psychology in the United Kingdom, who landed her dream internship at CMA.

Did you know that one of the required majors to be a marine animal trainer is psychology? I certainly didn’t before Justine told me. Justine is committed to reaching her career ambitions, and she focused herself on a J-1 internship in the U.S. as an important step. CMA put together an excellent training plan for Justine in the education department, and she spends her summer days on board the Sea Life Safari Boat Tour assisting CMA’s marine biologists to present the unique underwater life of the inter coastal waters to visitors. By the end of her internship, Justine will be narrating and conducting the Sea Life Safari boat tour all by herself.

Justine with fellow intern Samantha Nowinski and Captain of the Sea life Safari Ship Cecil Davis

Justine with fellow intern Samantha Nowinski and Captain of the Sea life Safari Ship Cecil Davis

Justine, aboard the Sea Life Safari, helps a CMA Marine Biologist document sea life in the inter coastal waters.

Justine, aboard the Sea Life Safari, helps a CMA Marine Biologist document sea life in the inter coastal waters.

Justine is also conducting long-term research to assess species richness and species abundance in the area. I asked Lisa Oliver, Director of Education and Research at CMA, why they put so much time into educating and training their interns. CMA’s mission is to effectively convey scientific information to a non-scientific community, and to motivate the broad public to be stewards of marine protection. Through their internship program, they train a generation of future scientists to be stewards for marine preservation and to teach others the same.

Our next stop was the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for a balcony view of the Space X launch of the Falcon 9 Rocket and the Dragon cargo capsule. While at the KSC, I heard a presentation by Dr. Alessandro Grattoni, a professor of nanotechnology at the Houston Methodist Hospital Research Institute. After hearing his Italian accent, I wondered if there might be a J-1 connection. I inquired and learned that Dr. Grattoni was a J-1 student earlier in his career at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. His J-1 experience led to everything he has done since! His research is highly impressive – I encourage you to look him up.

J-1 alumnus Dr. Grattoni presents at the NASA Kennedy Space Center

J-1 alumnus Dr. Grattoni presents at the NASA Kennedy Space Center

So, tried and tested, the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program really does bring the world to American hometowns – and to vacation destinations. It also pays dividends for years to come.

Categories: J-1 Visa, Participants, 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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