Route J-1


From Dishwasher to World Traveler

Posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 at 1:43 pm.

By Viktor Vincej, J-1 Summer Work Travel alumnus from Slovakia

Viktor Vincej, full-time traveler, volunteer, and founder of online magazines Traveling Lifestyle & Webcreate.Me

In 2011, when I went to the USA for the first time, I was a different person than I am today. Working the whole summer in Ocean City, Maryland under the J-1 Summer Work & Travel Program was, for sure, one of the biggest lessons of my life. Now I know those lessons are the ones which made me stronger and gave me the most!

Visiting the USA was always kind of a dream for me, and the Work & Travel program was definitely one of the easiest and most affordable ways. For many Work & Travel jobs in the USA, you must be fluent in English. As a student who did not speak fluent English, I chose dishwashing at first because my options were limited. Also, as a kid from a “regular” family, I either needed to borrow money or I needed to work hard back home to afford the experience of Work & Travel in the USA. I took a couple jobs back home working long hours in order to make sure I had enough money and also to be able to travel around the USA afterwards. It was a huge lesson which helped me to develop work ethic and mental strength. On the other side, what I didn’t realize at the time was that showing off good work ethic set me off for my freelancing path and which later allowed me to become a world traveler. Everything begins with small steps.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

German Gets Crafty at His Sierra Nevada Internship

Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 at 7:05 pm.

By Anna Boisseau, Communications Officer, Cultural Vistas
A version of this story was originally published on Cultural Vistas Blog

Young man pouring a beer from one of several taps behind a bar

Marius Hartman tries the beer he made in Sierra Nevada’s Tasting Room. Photo Credit: Sierra Nevada.

Water, malt, hops and yeast.

Because of something called the “purity law,” those are the only four ingredients allowed in German beer. And so, unlike the more experimental nature of the American craft brew scene, German brewers tend to be purists. There’s a right way to make Pilsner, to make Oktoberfest, to make Kölsch. That’s why Marius Hartmann was so surprised when he first tasted Kellerweis, Sierra Nevada’s take on a traditional German Hefeweizen beer. As a Brewing and Beverage Technology student at University of Applied Science Weihenstephan-Triesdorf, Marius and his peers often sampled international pints.

“He didn’t know an American brewery could actually make a good Hefeweizen,” said Abe Kabakoff, the head pilot brewer at Sierra Nevada.

After realizing international work experience would set him apart from others in his program, Marius decided to work on his English. In 2014, he enrolled in a course at California State University, which is in the same city as Sierra Nevada. That’s when he met with Abe to discuss the possibility of an internship. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

My Experience as a J-1 Exchange Visitor

Posted on Friday, March 10th, 2017 at 3:39 pm.

By Luuk Pessers, J-1 High School Student from the Netherlands

Young white man in t-shirt and sunglasses on a boat with the Statue of Liberty in the background

Luuk poses with the Statute of Liberty on a ferry cruise

Being an exchange student in the United States is an incredible opportunity. There is no better way to learn more about a culture than being in the middle of one. I believe it enriches your knowledge and English language skills, but above all that, it makes you a richer person.

Especially in the world today, where people are sometimes scared of other cultures, I think it’s very important that people connect with other cultures. Knowing more about other cultures means that you better understand the world. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

For J-1 from Venezuela, Experience Inspires Leadership

Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 at 10:04 pm.

An Interview with Ariana Sánchez Barrios, J-1 Summer Work Travel Alumna
A version of this story was originally published on CIEE Alumni Blog

Ariana in the George C. Marshall Conference Center at the U.S. Department of State.

Ariana in the George C. Marshall Conference Center at the U.S. Department of State.

Born in Venezuela. J-1 Work & Travel alumna. English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) participant. Youth Ambassador. Civic Leadership Summit fellow. Volunteer coordinator. Dynamic public speaker. And she’s only 19 years old. What has motivated Ariana to accomplish so much at such a young age? This alumna is on a mission to create positive change in her home country of Venezuela, using her leadership and exchange experience as the tools to help her achieve that goal.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

I Heart Camp!

Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 at 9:32 pm.

By Lauren Rees, Marketing Assistant, Camp America
A version of this story was originally published on Camp America.

February 1st was “I Heart Camp Day!” To celebrate, Camp America pulled together its team to talk about why they love camp so much. See why these current J-1 exchange visitors and alumni from the United Kingdom love working as camp counselors.

Left: Adam Squire, Canyon Creek Summer Camp (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) | Right: Emma Burns, YMCA Camp Takodah (2015, 2016, 2017)

Left: Adam Squire, Canyon Creek Summer Camp (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) | Right: Emma Burns, YMCA Camp Takodah (2015, 2016, 2017)

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Exploring Music City – Nashville, Tennessee

Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2017 at 8:21 pm.

By Faith Nyamakwere, J-1 Summer Work and Travel participant from Zimbabwe

Faith poses with the Recording Angel Statute at entrance to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center Nashville.

Faith poses with the Recording Angel Statute at entrance to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center Nashville.

During my J-1 program, I had the privilege to work at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Centre, which is reported to be the largest non-casino hotel in the Continental United States outside Las Vegas, and is also ranked as 28th in the list of largest hotels in the world.

Most people come to the resort to experience the unique “Country Christmas” offered by the Gaylord.  As a Gaylord star, I provided all the guests with the flawless services that they deserved and at the same time got to see and explore amazing places and attractions in Nashville, Tennessee. Some of the amazing things that I experienced at the Gaylord “Country Christmas” celebrations included snow tubing and ice skating, seeing the hotel decorated with thousands of twinkling lights and ornaments, the General Jackson Showboat lunch and dinner cruise, and the ICE! Sculpture exhibits of the Nutcracker and the Grinch (where scenes from these classics are hand carved from 2 million pounds of ice!).

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Categories: Program Spotlight

J-1 Encourages Exchange Visitors to Be Open-Minded and Step Outside Their Comfort Zone

Posted on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 at 8:30 pm.

By Stephanie Scholz, J-1 Intern from Germany

Stephanie poses with New York City Skyline from Roosevelt Island.

Stephanie poses with New York City Skyline from Roosevelt Island.

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

What surprised you most about your Exchange Visitor Program experience?

I was amazed how fast I adapted to everything. After a couple of days I felt really comfortable living in the U.S. This is because my sponsor organization made the transition easy for me. I was immediately introduced to a lot of people, including other interns, at work and was given rewarding projects and assignments to work on such as taking care of the whole visa process for future interns and helping to organize events.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Love at Third Sight, Deep in the Heart of Texas!

Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2017 at 3:42 pm.

By Marta Lange, J-1 Intern from Latvia

Marta admires the statue of cardiac surgeon Michael E. DeBakey at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Marta admires the statue of cardiac surgeon Michael E. DeBakey at Houston Methodist Hospital.

It was a cold and windy December morning when I left my beloved, snowy Latvia and landed in sunny Texas. Houston greeted me with skyscrapers, palm trees with Christmas lights, and a swimming pool in my backyard. In the so-called Lone Star State, one can find surprises on every corner. At first, as a person hailing from a country of two million people, getting used to Houston was difficult. Attempting to understand the people and their culture, the lifestyle, the city itself, and the food portions was quite a challenge. I stubbornly refused to admit that I was experiencing culture shock, but upon further reflection, I now realize that I was.

At first I struggled with making small talk in elevators and getting used to the fake-smile “how-are-you” culture. To be honest, this positive attitude sticks, and after a year I am able to admit that I will miss saying “hi” to complete strangers on the street. The Southern hospitality in Texas is something that a very Nordic person like me will never forget. That is one thing I could not fathom at the beginning, but now I really enjoy it! That is one of the factors that really made me love Texans: being polite and really meaning it, opening the doors for each other, saying “ma’am” and “sir” to everyone regardless of their age. I fell in love with Houston only after twice being away from it. I had to leave Houston and return in order to finally acknowledge how much I love it. At the same time, the importance and magic of the city really lies in the Texan people.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Sharing Technology Experiences in a Texas High School

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 at 9:17 pm.

Interview with Scarlett Palomo, J-1 au pair from El Salvador

A version of this story was originally published on AuPairCare.

Scarlett and two high school students in front of Belton New Tech High School in Texas

Scarlett and two high school students in front of Belton New Tech High School in Texas.

When J-1 au pair Scarlett Palomo learned that her area director’s daughter was studying Spanish in her Texas high school, Scarlett jumped at the chance to visit the school and speak with the students. She wanted to tell them about El Salvador, the beautiful country that she knows and loves. The students were beginning a project on Central America, so they were excited to learn about the region from first-hand experience.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Building Peace through Art: An Interview with J-1 Scholar Hyppolite Ntigurirwa

Posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2017 at 10:20 pm.

A version of this story was originally published in International Arts and Artists.

Hyppolite Ntigurirwa and fellow Artist Leaders Andrea Gordillo and Chanel Matsunami Govreau. Photo by Kyle Klein Perler and courtesy of Arts Connect International.

Hyppolite Ntigurirwa and fellow Artist Leaders Andrea Gordillo and Chanel Matsunami Govreau.
Photo by Kyle Klein Perler and courtesy of Arts Connect International

Hyppolite Ntigurirwa has a vision for peace. After witnessing the horrors of genocide, he turned to the transformative power of art to help spread his message of peace. He formed a theater group at his school in Rwanda as a way to unite students from different ethnic groups. “We witnessed the power of performing arts to bring people together, challenging the status quo and starting the long process of social change,” he said of the experience. Since then, Hyppolite has continued to use theater as a tool for healing, reconciliation, and peacebuilding in post-conflict communities both in Rwanda and abroad.
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Categories: Program Spotlight

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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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