I just returned home from the beach leg of Route J-1 and have my bag packed for the mid-west and western leg. I have swapped my sundresses for jeans and my sandals for hiking shoes as I am looking forward to farms, lakes and mountains. As a proud west coaster now living on the east coast, I don’t get to the central states nearly enough. I look forward to this exploration and to seeing new places through the eyes of J-1 exchange visitors. On this leg, I will visit interns, trainees, camp counselors and more summer work students.
Every region of this country offers something unique and special; however, not all states see an equal amount of international tourism. Most international exchange visitors prefer to travel to New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas; but the J-1 program does a fantastic job of shaking things up and scattering exchange visitors throughout all our regions.
Our programs are open to qualifying hosts from across the country so a student who never imagined going anywhere west of the Atlantic, north of the panhandle, or east of Lake Tahoe may actually find themselves in a warm and welcoming community in Michigan, Wisconsin, or Texas – where their boots and hats may never come off again!
The best way to get to know American hospitality is to experience it. The J-1 program provides that experience to our international visitors. On the other side of the coin, the program also increases the experience of diversity for Americans.
In Ocean City, I met Murajdon from Uzbekistan and Yevgeniy from Kazakhstan (pictured above). Muradjon was a bit shy to speak at first, but over lunch he told me that he hopes to one day join his country’s diplomatic corps. He came to the U.S. to build his confidence in speaking American English and to learn about our culture firsthand. The value of such experience for a future diplomat, and for our future diplomatic relations with Uzbekistan is immeasurable.
Another visitor and a happy and easy-going guy, Yevgeniy, told me that he hopes to be an interpreter one day. An interpreter must know more than just a language; he must be able to interpret meaning and much of that meaning derives from a culture. Thanks to the J-1 program, we have representatives from all over the world, including Central Asia in the U.S., and the American experience will be carried back home with them across the globe.
|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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