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Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Happy Songkran!

Posted on Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 at 5:10 pm.


Three Summer Work Travel participants from Thailand, pictured from left, Nattaporn Khonghana, Wannida Thongsripleng and Montatip Putawed, are spending their cultural exchange with jobs with the Davidson Hospitality Group at the DoubleTree by Hilton Park Vista in Gatlinburg, Tenn., this spring. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, they shared information about the Thai new year holiday, Songkran, which took place April 13-15. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

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

Deputy Secretary McKeon Travels to Miami, Meets with BridgeUSA Exchange Visitors

Posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2022 at 8:13 pm.

BridgeUSA exchange visitors at the University of Miami pictured above include interns, trainees, au pairs, and physicians. They are sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the Council on International Educational Exchange, InterExchange, and Intrax. Photo credit: Elvir Klempic, Dept. of State.

Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian P. McKeon traveled to Miami, Florida, from March 29-30.  The Deputy Secretary visited State Department operations in South Florida, including the Miami Passport Agency and the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Miami Field Office.  Read More ›

Categories: 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

Medical Residency at a Dedicated COVID-19 Care Center

Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 at 6:49 pm.

By Dr. Magdi Zordok, EVP Physician from Egypt

This story was originally published on ECFMG’s Journeys in Medicine Blog

Dr. Zordok after rounds (shown first from the left)

On March 17, 2020, Carney Hospital was designated as the nation’s first dedicated care center for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our patient population would now be only individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and required hospitalization, either from our emergency department, or from other hospitals within our network. My experience with COVID was, at that point, scarce and limited to discussions with my senior colleagues and the case reports from China and Italy. Read More ›

Categories: 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

The Secret Sauce: Changing Perceptions to Empower Persons With and Without Disabilities

Posted on Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 at 3:17 pm.

By Robert Rose, Host parent for secondary school students

Robert Rose (top Right) visiting Nepal (Photo Credit: Armen Stein)

After volunteering as a photographer for a non-profit organization based out of Sausalito, CA back in 1997, I started partnering Rotary Clubs in my area with Rotary Clubs in Nepal to undertake projects helping children with disabilities. About 13 years ago my wife Gina and I started our own small non-profit – TRIFC, to provide educational, nutritional, medical, and empowerment help to children with disabilities in Nepal. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

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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.

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