Route J-1

A Cross-Cultural Gateway to America

Posted on Thursday, May 25th, 2017 at 9:13 pm.

By Leslie Costa, J-1 Intern from France

Leslie Costa visiting U.S. Senate Office Building as a J-1 Intern

In 2007, I graduated from the University of Montesquieu in Bordeaux, France, with a degree in economics and law, before moving to Paris to study a Masters degree in corporate finance. During my studies, I undertook multiple internships that provided a strong foundation of knowledge for entering into the financial world.  However, in a post-recession business world, I found it difficult to get an entry-level job. Employers repeatedly told me I needed additional experience. Determined to acquire the skills I needed and propel myself into a new realm of experience in a stubborn European marketplace, I set my sights on the United States and a corporate world that would open many more doors of opportunity.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Exchange Experience Inspires Open-Mindedness and Confidence

Posted on Friday, May 19th, 2017 at 12:19 pm.

A version of this story was originally published on CIEE Alumni Blog

Nathan working at Frontier City amusement park in Oklahoma City

Nathan Britton Wunsonti Musah participated in the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program in 2008, traveling from Ghana to experience working and living in Oklahoma City as a ride attendant at Frontier City amusement park. Nathan received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. He currently works for the major political opposition party in Ghana. In addition to political work, Nathan exercises his drawing talent in his spare time.

Nathan shares lessons learned from his Summer Work and Travel program experience: Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

A Diplomatic Reception

Posted on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 at 8:36 pm.

By Sasha Gerhardson, J-1 Manager, The Washington Center


Group photo of J-1s Interns in Thomas Jefferson State Reception Room

On Tuesday, May 25, seven J-1 interns from Mexico and two staff members from the Washington Center participated in a meet and greet roundtable discussion with State Department staff followed by a one hour guided tour of the Department’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms. In this blog entry, J-1s share their reflections about their visit.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Hospitality Beyond Borders

Posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 at 8:34 pm.

By Jewel Bartido Villanueva, J-1 Intern from the Philippines

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

Jewel discovers the Wonders of the Sea at SeaWorld

Route J-1: Jewel, It’s so nice to meet you. Tell me, how’s your internship going?

Jewel: My internship is going well. It’s been a great chance for me to grow professionally in the hospitality industry in one of the greatest host properties. Hawks Cay Resort values students and graduates that want to train with them.

Route J-1: That’s good news. Is there anything your host employer did to make your transition into your new job easier?

Jewel: Yes, when I started working, my employer hosted employee gatherings to welcome the new members of the team, just like me. I was able to meet and socialize with the people I would be working with. There was food and games for us. And we also received updates about the resort. I had fun with my coworkers during this time because I got a chance to know and interact with them. Also, we had a New Hire Orientation/Training that familiarized us with the work culture and standards of our host property.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Reflections: Scandinavian Exchange Students Share Their Experiences

Posted on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 at 3:19 pm.

By Jessica Laus, Internships & Training Coordinator, America-Scandinavian Foundation

Four J-1 Interns and Trainees reflect and share highlights from their exchange experience. Read their stories and share in their personal journey.

Meet Lisbet Fritze Christensen,
Danish, trainee at BIG in New York City

Lisbet with her coworkers at BIG

What did you like most about your stay in the United States?

I really love New York as a city and all the different people who live there. It’s so much more diverse than Copenhagen. Whenever I’m back in Denmark, I feel like everybody looks the same and talks the same. Here in New York everybody looks different, dresses different, speaks different, and has a totally different history and background. It’s really been an eye opener. People are very open and I have felt very welcome in the city. I also love that there are so many nice cafes and restaurants and that people are very social. Everybody in the city is busy, which makes appointments very flexible and open. There is always room for one more and if you cancel last minute because you have to work its totally fine – it’s less strict and more inclusive than in Denmark. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

Summer Work Travel Monitoring Report Released

Posted on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 at 6:44 pm.

By Nathan Arnold, Director of Press Relations for Educational and Cultural Affairs              

Ocean City, Maryland police conduct a safety demonstration for J-1 participants working in the beach community.

This past summer, State Department monitoring teams visited 446 placement sites across 25 states in our efforts to monitor the health, safety, and welfare of participants. Along the way, we also stopped to listen, as J-1 participants shared with us ideas for continuing to improve the program. In total, our teams interviewed 1,582 J-1 students and 362 American host placement supervisors. The findings of these monitoring visits are now available in the 2016 Summer Work Travel Monitoring Report, including charts breaking down the findings, ranging from participant costs to hours worked to cultural activities in American communities.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Austin Opens Doors of Economic Opportunity with a Key to the City

Posted on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 at 7:58 pm.

Jody Mayo, Communications Manager, Alliance Abroad Group
A version of this story was originally published on Alliance Abroad

Princess Cee and James Bell, President of Alliance Abroad, proudly display key to the city of Austin

Like her grandfather, Nelson Mandela, Princess Celenhle “Cee” Dlamini is passionate about providing disadvantaged youth with economic opportunities through programs that provide skills training, education and employment. That includes cultural and educational exchange programs.

A few weeks ago, Princess Cee was visiting Austin as part of her official role as Chief Operating Officer of the Ubuntu Institute’s international exchange program, an initiative aimed at skilling South African youth so that they are employable in South Africa.

“Many young people state that they cannot get jobs because employers tell them they do not have enough work experience to qualify for positions,” Princess Cee explained. “This applies even to young graduates of both undergraduate levels and post-graduate levels.” The innovative approach of the Ubuntu Institute identifies international internships to deal with the issues of ‘un-employability.’ The program was created to address this gap and challenge in order to combat the increasing rates of youth unemployment in South Africa. The international exchange program empowers graduates with skills and training opportunities to prepare them for a future career in the hospitality industry.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

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

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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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