By Kate Verey, CIEE Senior Director of Work & Travel USA
This August a select group of 62 students from the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program gathered at American University in Washington, D.C. for the CIEE Civic Leadership Summit, a three-day event that brings together passionate, young leaders from around the world for a dynamic exchange on leadership, social entrepreneurship, and cultural understanding. This group of Fellows represented 33 countries from three different designated J-1 sponsor organizations (CENET, Spirit and CIEE).
A highlight of the Summit was a daylong workshop called the ‘Be a Changemaker Challenge’ led by Ashoka’s Youth Venture, an organization that inspires and supports teams of young people to launch and lead their own community benefiting initiatives. During the Challenge, Fellows identified their passions to create change for social issues, and then worked in groups to develop plans for launching their own social ventures in their home countries. Read More ›
By Marcellin Niset, J-1 Secondary School Student from Belgium
This story was originally featured on Rotary Voices
The Italian-American author and actress Vanna Bonta wrote, “There’s no hospitality like understanding.” That quote stuck with me as a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Alaska in 2015-16. I arrived in Alaska, a wilderness filled with beauty and love, determined to make my exchange purposeful and beneficial for myself, my host community, and the world.
An exchange is not only about a student going abroad, it is about all the people that make this exchange possible, and the ones that are impacted, directly and indirectly. Read More ›
Written by J-1 Intern Chi Fai (Tony) Chau from Hong Kong
During my internship with Assemblymember Ron Kim (District 40), I worked as a constituent liaison, helping to address and resolve the everyday issues that many New York residents, including immigrant communities, often face. It was an unforgettable time for me because I have not participated in this sort of experience, even in my hometown.
Through this experience I found myself much more confident than I believed, and I realized I was good at communicating with people, even when they were of different races and backgrounds.
It was a pleasure to have my supervisor’s and visa sponsor’s trust bestowed in me. Throughout my 10-week internship, I had many opportunities to oversee different kinds of tasks. It gave me a chance to get in touch with people from all walks of life. Putting myself into other’s shoes was a good mindset for dealing with diverse constituents’ inquiries. It helped me handle many unexpected situations with an ultimate goal of creating a productive platform that brings results and resolutions to every concerned body and individual in the constituency in an amicable, but professional, fashion. Read More ›
The State Department is serious about relationship building with our exchange participants. That’s why we support alumni networks around the world. Recently, many of our embassies have increased efforts to engage participants from J-1 privately-funded jexchanges, so that the investment participants have made in their futures can be leveraged through association with other participants. We are excited to include these participants in our long-term alumni networks and outreach, and have seen much interest from participants to stay in touch with our embassies overseas.
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Learning about American culture and building life-long memories is at the heart of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, including for au pairs. Au pair program sponsors facilitate monthly meet-ups, where local and regional coordinators engage au pairs in cultural events, such as city tours, holiday celebrations, sporting events, volunteer activities, and many others. Here is an example of one such activity that took place in Jacksonville, Florida:
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“International exchanges – especially those for young people taking the first steps of their professional lives – are strong and life changing experiences. It’s important to keep the international connections you make during an exchange alive because they have a powerful impact on your life, as well as others. Let’s face it, at the heart of it, international exchanges are about the relationships you make and maintain.”
As the cold settles in here in Washington, D.C. and the Northeastern United States, I want to revisit summer. My colleague Travis Parsley made a visit to Wayne County, Pennsylvania, during summer camp season. I will let Travis take it from here. Enjoy. Read More ›
Who needs water? During last Sunday’s grueling New York City Marathon almost EVERYONE needed water, and – especially between mile markers 17 and 22 – there was a good chance the smiling person with the extended hand offering water and Gatorade was a J-1 Exchange Visitor. Read More ›
While everyone in New York at this time of year shares the sweet anticipation of the upcoming Halloween festivities, for more than 50,000 runners from 135 countries it also means gearing up for a different kind of sweet treat: the proud accomplishment of completing the NYC Marathon. Among the 10,000 volunteers helping out at the world’s largest marathon on Sunday, you will find more than 850 of our J-1 participants. Experiencing the American tradition of volunteerism first hand, they will distribute water, cheer on athletes from their home countries, and share their cultures with their fellow volunteers and the runners.
[Interviewer] What are you excited for?
[Miriam] I am extremely excited about being at the New York City Marathon on Sunday, the 1st of November. Hi, I’m Miriam Vadria from Karachi,
Pakistan. I got a J-1 Visa because of a Fulbright Scholarship from Pakistan. And I’m doing a MBA degree here from SIPA at Columbia. I’ll be
volunteering at the New York City Marathon the first of November. I’ll be at fluid mile station 16. And I’ll be handing out water to all the runners
who are going to be doing hard work! And I specifically want to wish Hamna Zubair very good luck who is running for the cause of education in Pakistan.
[upbeat background music]
Young people always dream about what they will be when they grow up. Will they bring about world peace? Will they end poverty? Will they win an Oscar for their moving documentary? Will they invent the next big thing that radically changes technology? Here in the J-1 world, we jump out of our seats and cheer each time the J-1 internship program brings those young dreamers closer to their life-changing goals. It is a noisy place around here.
I took Route J-1 to California’s Silicon Valley recently, where the world’s most innovative tech companies are hosting J-1 interns and turning dreams into action. I sat down with up-and-coming tech whizzes from all over the world at Cisco and Facebook. Through these J-1 programs, international students supply the dreams while their hosts teach them to turn their big ideas into programs and tools.
|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.Read More
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