Route J-1

Route J1 Blog banner

Friendship for a Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2022 at 11:55 am.


There is a Nigerian proverb that says, “The day on which one starts out is not the time to start one’s preparations,” but in the case of BridgeUSA exchange visitors Daniel Enebe and Samuel Eze, the day they met they unknowingly set their international exchange plans in motion. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Bonfire Bonding

Posted on Monday, September 12th, 2022 at 8:24 pm.

Nothing says “summertime” like a good old-fashioned bonfire! In the U.S., this summertime tradition is as old as the nation itself. After all, there is no better time or place to connect with nature and with other people than around the warm flames of a blazing bonfire.

In June, AuPairCare au pairs and host families alike took advantage of the beautiful San Diego summer weather they were having and met at Leisure Lagoon Beach to gather around a bonfire! The fire, the perfect temperature, and the eventual sunset all combined to make for one unforgettable evening.

Like any good bonfire, the host families, host children, and au pairs gathered around the campfire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, sing songs and warm their hands by the fire. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Slava Ukraini

Posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2022 at 2:48 pm.

At a time when it is unsafe for Ukrainian youth to return home due to the Russian government’s unprovoked war, U.S. summer Camps Kenwood & Evergreen in coordination with the American Camp Association and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs have helped provide a degree of normalcy for BridgeUSA and Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) students in the United States. Check out the story of these Ukrainian youth.

Categories: J-1 Visa, Participants, Program Spotlight, Videos

Cultural Care Goes to the Boston Marathon

Posted on Wednesday, May 11th, 2022 at 1:38 pm.

By: Kristen McDonough of Cultural Care Au Pair.


It’s the kind of spring day that makes New Englanders giddy about the possibility of summer: sunny, low 50’s, with a crisp breeze and warm pockets of sun. In other words, a perfect day for running. The crowds are thick, buzzing with the excitement of returning events and Boston unity. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Participant Spotlight: BridgeUSA Research Scholar is Re-thinking the Timing of the Earths’ Biggest Mass Extinction, and the Diversification of Early Mammal Relatives

Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022 at 4:41 pm.

Pia Viglietti, a BridgeUSA research scholar at the Field Museum.

While “dinosaur” might be the first word that pops into peoples’ heads when they think of fossils, those big Jurassic beasts are not the only—or the most interesting—game in town for paleontologists. Case in point: Pia Viglietti, a BridgeUSA research scholar at the Field Museum, studies biostratigraphy and evolutionary change in southern Africa during and after the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. Pia joined the Field Museum in March of 2019, after completing her PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then she has been collaborating with Curator Ken Angielczyk and international colleagues, and already has 12 papers under her belt, including the description of several new species of the early mammal relatives known as dicynodonts, as well new species of crocodile and dinosaur ancestors. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Making Memories Every Mile at the TCS New York City Marathon

Posted on Monday, November 29th, 2021 at 1:53 pm.

By Katie Knoch, Office of Private Sector Exchange, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

BridgeUSA participants volunteer alongside Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange, Nicole Elkon

This year, on November 7, 2021, the TCS New York City Marathon took place after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19.  The 2021 TCS New York City Marathon commemorated the event’s 50th race with runners from all over the world participating both in person and virtually. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Vilnius Marathon Brings Together Different Experiences of Lithuanian Students

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2020 at 4:07 pm.

By Emilija Buividavičiūtė, Summer Work Travel Alumni, Lithuania

Emilija enjoying the event

Volunteering is always an exciting and valuable experience, especially when it comes to sports-related events. As Exchange Visitor Program participants, we never say no to any new opportunities. That is why when the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania invited us to volunteer in the Danske Bank Vilnius Marathon, we were very happy to help out and make our contribution as valuable as possible. It was a great opportunity to be part of one of the biggest sports event in the Baltics, to meet new people, and, of course, to have a fun and fulfilling weekend. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Volunteering at the Vilnius Marathon: Good Fun with Good People for a Good Cause

Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2020 at 4:58 pm.

By Darius Gabrilavicius, Summer Work Travel Alumni, Lithuania

J-1 US Alumni Association Lithuania volunteers at the Vilnius Marathon Individuals wearing black facemasks are members of the alumni association.

Summer Work Travel Alumnus Darius Gabrilavicius reflects on his experience volunteering at the Vilnius Marathon, which was held on September 13, 2020 in Lithuania. Darius volunteered at a fluid station along the race course alongside 43 members of the newly established J-1 US Alumni Association of which he is a founding member. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Bringing the World Home to Missouri

Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 at 5:50 pm.

By Robyn Walker, Executive Director, Cenet

Robyn and Cultural Classroom teachers tour Santo Domingo on the metro aerial cable car

Cenet is a designated sponsor of the Exchange Visitor Program brining international students to the United States on Summer Work Travel (SWT), Camp Counselor, Trainee and Intern programs.

Having grown up in nearby southern Illinois, I was Cenet’s first study abroad student (to the sunny island of Malta), and now have the privilege of serving as the organization’s executive director. My cultural exchange experience enriched my life. It helped me to understand the importance of seeing new places, meeting new people, and being exposed to global perspectives. Prior to joining Cenet, I was an educator for 15 years and always took the opportunity to promote cross-cultural learning, exploration and understanding in the classroom. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Discovering the Beauty of Many Cultures

Posted on Thursday, February 20th, 2020 at 3:25 am.

By EVP Physician Joelle Wazen from Lebanon

Joelle’s first live baseball game; the annual Pawsox night at the McCoy stadium is a traditional event in her Radiology program. In this photo fellow residents, fellows, administrative staff, attending physicians and their families enjoying the sun, snacks and a great score for the Pawsox.

I’m from Lebanon. I left home to be part of the Exchange Visitor Program to pursue my specialization in Radiology. So far my extracurricular experience has been very enriching. I’ve had the chance to participate in multiple events, gatherings and activities with my fellow residents and other colleagues at the medical center. Being part of UMass Radiology has given me the chance to experience events such as the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrate Thanksgiving etc… Also I visited multiple museums such as the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and did not miss to climb the skyline and visit the bean, spent a whole day at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC and then enjoyed a walk by the Potomac River. My classmates and I went to the Art Museum of Worcester with one of our mentors in Radiology. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Older Entries
About Nicole Elkon

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange

Nicole Elkon

Nicole Elkon joined the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange in September 2021. Until June 2021, Ms. Elkon was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Human Rights First, an independent advocacy organization focused on human rights and the rule of law. Prior to her position as COO, Ms. Elkon was a Senior Advisor at Results for America (RFA), a non-profit organization focused on advancing data-driven, evidence based public policy at all levels of government. She also served as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of ECA and was Director of the Office of Public Private Partnerships at ECA working to leverage strategic partnerships to enhance Administration foreign policy priorities.

Read More