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J-1 Program Transformed an Intern into a Leader

Posted on Friday, August 5th, 2016 at 12:30 pm.

By Trish, J-1 Intern from the Philippines

Girl standing in front of flag pole with American flags

Trish posing in front of American flags

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Trainee Program has changed my life in many ways. It has allowed me to enhance my communication skills and I have learned how to multitask in a fast paced environment. I have met a lot of people from countries all over the world with different cultures, traditions, customs and beliefs, and many of them became my close friends.

Like most J-1 participants would say, this has been a life changing experience for me, not only in my professional career, but also in helping me build my interpersonal skills. Before I arrived in the United States, I had stage fright. I would literally start shaking if I stood up in front of a crowd. But when I started working at Kalahari Resorts, I was able to overcome my fear. I can’t believe that I now run the orientation for J-1 Work & Travel participants. I was also able to speak at the Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton International Student Consortium to share my experiences. This was a very unforgettable experience for me because I never thought that I would be talking in front of foreigners without feeling shy. I have gained confidence and self-esteem through this program.

Trish taking a Chicago selfie with fellow J-1 participants

Trish taking a Chicago selfie with fellow J-1 participants

One of the perks is that I had the chance to visit Chicago and am planning on visiting other states when my program ends. I also had the opportunity to see the four seasons which is really cool. I loved the snow which we do not have back home in the Philippines! Since the day I arrived in Wisconsin up until now, I have never felt any homesickness because I enjoy every day and every moment I spend here. I have learned to love everything.

I am proud to say that I work at Kalahari Resorts because I feel a sense of belonging and I am warmly welcomed by the community. I can say that this is the toughest but bravest and best decision I have ever made in my life. I don’t have any regrets and will always be grateful that I was given an opportunity to participate in this program. Words aren’t enough to express my gratitude.

Trish enjoying the snowy weather

Trish enjoying the snowy weather

When I return to the Philippines, I will have a better chance of getting hired since I had an amazing work experience in the United States. This will be my edge over other applicants and will help me achieve my future career goals.

I will never ever forget this wonderful experience. I am so glad to live the American Dream.

Categories: Program Spotlight

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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