Route J-1

Living a Dream

Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2016 at 2:56 pm.

By Binish Desai, Secondary School Student from India

Blog originally published on Rotary Voices

Binish Desai and the brick his company makes from industrial waste.

Binish Desai and the brick his company makes from industrial waste.

India is my Nation
Valsad is my Station
Helping is my Aim
Binish is my Name

I’ll never forget the introduction I used as an exchange student.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

A J-1 Experience in Sales Opens Entrepreneurial Doors

Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 at 2:17 pm.

By Evelina Prodnova, J-1 Summer Work Travel Alumni from Bulgaria

group of women at table

Evelina organizes a monthly business meeting to discuss challenges for women in the workplace.

My first summer as a J-1 exchange student was in 2007. I was a first year at university and had worked the previous four summers in the Sea Resorts in Bulgaria as a shop assistant. I learned about the Southwestern Advantage program by chance. It sounded weird and different. I was going to gain communication skills by selling educational products door-to-door. I decided to take the chance as I was selected to be part of the program for that summer even though it sounded tough (and not appealing to knock on doors).

I ended up doing really well and was asked to take part in the management program. I ended up working with the company for six years, gaining much more than expected: mentors who helped me develop my leadership potential, skills obtained through management and sales training, and experience gained from recruiting teams and leading sales organizations – all in the ages when I was developing myself as a person, as a professional. Read More ›

Categories: Program Spotlight

J-1’s Accept the ‘Be a Changemaker Challenge’

Posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 at 9:29 pm.

By Kate Verey, CIEE Senior Director of Work & Travel USA

group of participants

2016 Civic Leadership Summit participants contributing their ideas!

This August a select group of 62 students from the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program gathered at American University in Washington, D.C. for the CIEE Civic Leadership Summit, a three-day event that brings together passionate, young leaders from around the world for a dynamic exchange on leadership, social entrepreneurship, and cultural understanding. This group of Fellows represented 33 countries from three different designated J-1 sponsor organizations (CENET, Spirit and CIEE).

A highlight of the Summit was a daylong workshop called the ‘Be a Changemaker Challenge’ led by Ashoka’s Youth Venture, an organization that inspires and supports teams of young people to launch and lead their own community benefiting initiatives. During the Challenge, Fellows identified their passions to create change for social issues, and then worked in groups to develop plans for launching their own social ventures in their home countries. Read More ›

Categories: Participants, Program Spotlight

Making Peace One Exchange at a Time

Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 at 9:07 pm.

By Marcellin Niset, J-1 Secondary School Student from Belgium
This story was originally featured on Rotary Voices

participant standing in front of sign saying Welcome to Alaska

Belgian Exchange Student Marcellin Niset in Alaska

The Italian-American author and actress Vanna Bonta wrote, “There’s no hospitality like understanding.” That quote stuck with me as a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Alaska in 2015-16. I arrived in Alaska, a wilderness filled with beauty and love, determined to make my exchange purposeful and beneficial for myself, my host community, and the world.

An exchange is not only about a student going abroad, it is about all the people that make this exchange possible, and the ones that are impacted, directly and indirectly. Read More ›

Categories: J-1 Visa, Participants, Program Spotlight

J-1 Intern Sees Democracy in Action from the Inside

Posted on Tuesday, September 13th, 2016 at 8:53 pm.

Written by J-1 Intern Chi Fai (Tony) Chau from Hong Kong

tony chau at desk smiling

Tony Chau interning at New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim’s office.

During my internship with Assemblymember Ron Kim (District 40), I worked as a constituent liaison, helping to address and resolve the everyday issues that many New York residents, including immigrant communities, often face. It was an unforgettable time for me because I have not participated in this sort of experience, even in my hometown.

Through this experience I found myself much more confident than I believed, and I realized I was good at communicating with people, even when they were of different races and backgrounds.

It was a pleasure to have my supervisor’s and visa sponsor’s trust bestowed in me. Throughout my 10-week internship, I had many opportunities to oversee different kinds of tasks. It gave me a chance to get in touch with people from all walks of life. Putting myself into other’s shoes was a good mindset for dealing with diverse constituents’ inquiries. It helped me handle many unexpected situations with an ultimate goal of creating a productive platform that brings results and resolutions to every concerned body and individual in the constituency in an amicable, but professional, fashion. Read More ›

Categories: Participants

Putting the “Green” in the Greenheart Global Leadership Conference

Posted on Friday, September 2nd, 2016 at 6:01 pm.

By Kyle Trebotich and Haldis Toppen, CCI Greenheart Work and Travel Program

J-1 participant Kenyata Thomas of Jamaica helps to trim plants at the National Arboretum.

J-1 participant Kenyata Thomas of Jamaica helps to trim plants at the National Arboretum.

It’s about building Global Leaders: That’s why in early August, Greenheart Global hosted its third annual Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. Thirty-six J-1 participants from 15 countries attended in three tracks: social justice, environmental sustainability, and international mission driven business. These are the adventures of participants in the environment track.

The group’s first stop was Green America Exchange, an organization that provides a stage for green companies to showcase their environmentally conscious goods. Our team had great questions, and the meeting turned into a dynamic conversation with group members sharing ideas about how these concepts could be implemented in their home countries. Sicong Wei from China said: “I think when I go back to China, I will look to find a similar organization to Green America Exchange and if I cannot find one, I will work with others to try and create one.”

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Categories: Program Spotlight

In Boston, Au Pairs Help Clean Up the Charles River While Enjoying a Day Together

Posted on Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 at 2:13 pm.

By Gisela Nilsson, Cultural Care Au Pair sponsor organization

Au pairs, community coordinators, and staff in front of Education First (EF) Center

Au pairs, community coordinators, and staff in front of Education First (EF) Center

“It looked so clean, but when you start looking, you find all sorts of things hidden,” one of the au pairs exclaimed as she meandered along the winding banks of the Charles River, collecting trash and other debris with fellow au pairs and community members.

Cultural Care Au Pair staff, community coordinators, and au pairs joined the Charles River Watershed Association to clean up around the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts this past spring. The Charles River used to be one of the dirtiest rivers in the country but has improved greatly thanks to efforts by the association and volunteers. Bags upon bags of trash were collected, and the clean-up team felt the accomplishment of their work. “I really enjoyed hanging out with other au pairs while helping clean up in the sunshine,” said one of the au pairs.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

In Alaska, J-1 Participants See the Value of Our Ocean Everywhere

Posted on Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 at 9:04 pm.

By Adriana Kusnirova, CCI Greenheart Senior Partner Relations Manager

J-1 participants attend the Weaving Watersheds project, a community-based Interactive, impermanent art experience.

J-1 participants attend the Weaving Watersheds project, a community-based Interactive, impermanent art experience.

In south central Alaska, the fishing community of Cordova cares so deeply about our oceans that you can’t escape the theme for even an hour while in town. A number of Summer Work Travel participants are also there this summer, experiencing Alaskan culture in this community tucked between the Prince William Sound and the Copper River watershed.

Our Ocean” is an initiative led by Secretary of State John Kerry to raise awareness about ocean-related issues around the world, such as marine pollution and sustainable fishing. At Greenheart International, we believe in the importance of protecting all parts of our environment – so this is an initiative we are excited about!

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Categories: Program Spotlight

J-1 Program Fosters Innovation and Global Perspective

Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2016 at 8:29 pm.

By Jessica Rey Dubra, Marriot International Host Employer

Jessica Rey Dubra welcoming our new Summer 2016 J1 STARS from Spain.

J-1 participants from Spain enjoying lunch.

Get inspired! Read this question and answer style interview with host employer Marriott International.

Why did your organization decide to participate in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program?

At Marriott International, we believe that international education is a pathway that leads us to three absolutes: peace, innovation and mutual understanding. While sharing an evening meal at the family table and experiencing an average day walking in a J-1 participant’s shoes is a good start, learning alongside him from the same white board in the same classroom is a life changing experience. Moreover, it is a pathway to diplomacy over war and a pathway to lasting friendships that transcend age, race, or borders.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

Let’s Google it! J-1 Participants Explore Google NYC Office

Posted on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 at 7:10 pm.

By Tanya Burovtseva, InterExchange sponsor organization

J-1 participants meet with Google employees.

J-1 participants meet with Google employees.

Arriving in a new country and embarking on a cultural exchange experience is not an easy task. Surrounding oneself with a network of like-minded individuals from the very beginning makes the J-1 Visa exchange program experience more interesting and fun.

InterExchange, one of the J-1 Visa sponsors, facilitated a series of weekly cultural meet-ups in its headquarters in New York City in June. These meet-ups helped participants learn about features of American culture and included discussions about cultural ambassadorship and the role of people-to-people diplomacy. The meet-ups also engaged exchange participants in cultural events such as a briefing session at the United Nations, sporting activities, and visiting major New York City attractions and landmarks.

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Categories: Program Spotlight

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About Keri Lowry

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Private Sector Exchanges

Keri Lowry is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchanges, where she oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings over 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, hone their professional skills, strengthen their English language abilities, connect with Americans and learn more about the United States.

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