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Sparking Innovation: U.S.-Portugal Pilot Exchange Program Builds Intercultural Understanding

Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2019 at 6:54 pm.

About the Author: Lynette Evans-Tiernan serves as a Public Affairs Officer for the Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Department of State.

Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce and Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital of the Embassy of Portugal sign MOU.

On February 11, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce and Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital of the Embassy of Portugal convened in the State Department’s Treaty Room to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU will increase intercultural learning and provide structured and guided training for American and Portuguese emerging leaders interested in learning about innovation and organizational growth and development. Read More ›

Categories: J-1 Visa, Program Spotlight

Building a Dream: Architecture Student Gains International Experience

Posted on Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 at 2:39 pm.

By Pablo Ambrossi, Intern alumnus from Madrid, Spain
A version of this story was original published on CIEE blog

Pablo Ambrossi at the Flat Iron construction site, Brickell neighborhood, Miami

My name is Pablo Ambrossi and I was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. I am a 22-year-old student set to graduate in 2019 at the School of Architecture in Madrid, the ETSAM. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to continue my father´s legacy and become an architect. When I graduate, I plan to obtain some international experience working abroad before eventually returning to Madrid to work alongside my father. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Explore: Yosemite National Park Adventure

Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2018 at 5:41 pm.

By Tamires Marques, J-1 Intern from Brazil

Tamires and friend loving lower Yosemite Falls

I love when dreams come true. And knowing the Yosemite National Park was one of them!

Yosemite is one of the most paradisiacal places in the world! If you do a quick search on the most beautiful places to see in California, this park is sure to be at the top of the list. And for me, it was “desire at first sight!” Those who know me well know that I am passionate about mountains, animals, green areas, trails and adventures. And nature did very well in that region, making Yosemite definitely my favorite place in California! Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

Host Mom and Au Pair Run Side-By-Side in TCS New York City Marathon

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2018 at 1:36 pm.

By Lynette Evans-Tiernan, Communications Manager for Exchange Visitor Program

Soon after meeting, host mom Candice asked her au pair Laura if she would join her in running the New York City Marathon. After months of training and fundraising, they traveled from Verona, Wisconsin to New York City and completed the race. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

Better To See Something Once, Than Hear About it a Thousand Times

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2018 at 4:02 pm.

By Branislav Zvada, J-1 Summer Work and Travel Alumni from Slovakia

Watch a video that Branislav’s made about his SWT experience.

Visiting USA has been a dream of mine since childhood. As I’m in my final year of university, I realized that this was my last chance to go to USA through the Summer Work and Travel program. I didn’t hesitate and together with three other friends, I decided to give it a chance and travel. Truthfully, I still can’t believe that I really was in the USA, because the time went by so fast and it felt just like a few days, not a few months. It definitely was the best summer of our lives!
Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

From Exchange Visitor to Business Owner

Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2018 at 8:36 pm.

By Kristin Chasan, Communications Coordinator, Cultural Homestay International (CHI)
A version of this story is published on CHI’s blog

Darya poses with some of her beautiful custom pillows that were inspired by her time in the United States as a J-1 participant.

In 2010, Darya Modestova was just 19 years old.  She had just graduated from high school, and was sweating through a hot summer in her hometown of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.  She had no work experience, but she was ambitious and wanted to do something that would help her succeed in life.  So, she created a resume and posted it online.  Through sheer guile, she earned herself three interviews, and was eventually hired by Resource Interexchange Consulting (RIC) as their Operations Manager.  This moment was a turning point in her life, because it was at RIC where she learned about the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

She knew that the chance to live and work in America was something she couldn’t pass up, so the very next summer Darya was on a plane to Boston for a brand new experience that would forever change her.  Darya spent the summer of 2011 living and working in Cape Cod, Massachusetts as part of her Summer Work and Travel program.  She had a great summer, and left with a number of valuable new skills.  She learned how to treat others in a professional setting, how to work hard, and how to help a business succeed.  She also gained confidence that she could succeed when she put her mind to something.  To say this changed her life would be an understatement. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

ExEgypt: How One J-1 Alumnus Is Making Change In His Community

Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2018 at 8:50 pm.

By Alaa Mahmoud, J-1 Summer Work Travel Alumnus
A version of this story was originally published on CIEE blog

Hello everyone! I’m Alaa Mahmoud from Egypt. I’m currently enrolled as a fourth year medical student in Suez Canal University, Egypt. In 2006, I participated in the J-1 Summer Work Travel program and attended the Council on International Educational Exchange’s (CIEE) Civic Leadership Summit 2016 (CLS16). These experiences influenced me as a person and made me a change maker.

Children gathering around their tutors during different sessions during the children’s green camp. Left: English conversation skills. | Right: First aid session.

After completing my J-1 program and participating in CLS16 where I had the privilege to meet 62 young leaders from all around the world, I was inspired to launch an organization concerned with environmental and public health issues. While attending the summit, I gained skills that gave me the motivation to create ExEgypt (Exchanging & Empowering Global Youth Potentials & Talents), an initiative involving young children to help create young leaders. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

Ensuring the Safety and Security of ECA Exchange Participants

Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2018 at 8:58 pm.

By Lynette Evans-Tiernan, Communications Manager for the J-Visa Exchange Visitor Program

At the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, we have a steadfast and enduring commitment to safety and security. This commitment extends not only to U.S. citizens and diplomats overseas, but also to the thousands of exchange visitors from every sector of society who participate in educational and cultural exchange programs abroad and here in the United States.

Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

Enriching the Lives of Others Outdoors

Posted on Friday, February 16th, 2018 at 5:36 pm.

By, Liz Horne, J-1 Camp Counselor Alumna from Australia

I can vividly remember my first drive down Frost Valley Road, it was mid-June 1986, the light dancing through the trees, the crystal clear water of the Neversink River (smiling in the back seat of the caravan I thought “what a great name for a river – should be good for teaching someone to swim”), the smell of the Catskills Mountain summer and the welcome I received from the summer camp leadership team.

“Ready for anything”

I had arrived early and knew I would be helping with those last minute preparations before camp. Over the next week I tried my hand at fencing horse enclosures, mucking stables, cleaning cabins, moving equipment from its winter storage place to its summer activity area, all the while working beside someone who was thankful for the help and willing to teach me the ropes.

One-by-one as the staff arrived, staff training came and went, I was prepared for what was to come. That first summer I worked as a counsellor in Windsong with the 15 and 16 year old girls and what a treat that was.  We, the staff and the campers laughed, cried, challenged each other, explored topics that all 15/16 year old girls need to talk about in a safe environment, and decided together that girls could do a two night overnight just as easily as boys could, and hiked over Wildcat Mountain to Gusty’s Pavilion.  Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

A Whole New World

Posted on Thursday, February 8th, 2018 at 4:38 pm.

By Soroth San, J-1 Intern from Cambodia
A version of this story was published on CIEE blog

Finally, my chance to see the Atlantic Ocean in person (not just in a book or on a map!)

I was born and grew up in a poor village in Cambodia. I moved to the capital city, Phnom Penh, and became a student at the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL), majoring in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I was working as Head of School in Cambodia at an elementary school, encountering a ton of challenges including discipline issues, quality of education, interactions with students’ parents. I was eager for an opportunity to look at other parts of the developed world which have gone through and  successfully implemented education philosophies.

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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