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

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

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