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U.S.-Mexico MOU Internship Program Study Tour to Mexico

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2015 at 2:02 pm.


Sponsor representatives meet with the U.S. Embassy at the Benjamin Franklin Library in Mexico City

The U.S.-Mexico Internship Exchange Program – as chronicled in previous posts (see Mexico MOU Signing Ceremony) – is a central pillar in the bilateral strategy to vastly increase two-way exchanges between our countries. The strength of our relationship and the excitement on both sides of the border to increase cooperation on exchanges encouraged us to try something new. We worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, and their academic and government partners to arrange a study tour for interested J-1 designated intern sponsors to visit Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico.

Sponsors receive a tour of the Puebla city hall

Sponsors receive a tour of the Puebla City Hall

Our goal for this trip was to open up channels of cooperation for Mexican and American organizations, and to educate Mexican stakeholders about processes and opportunities within privately-funded exchange programs. A busy schedule of meetings with partners from federal and state governments, binational organizations, private sector, and academia led to new friends, new ideas, and palpable energy and enthusiasm around the U.S.-Mexico Internship program. Meetings with CONAGO, SENER, and CONACYT opened up possibilities of cooperation on a large scale. The J-1 sponsors met with some 75 Mexican university representatives in Mexico City and another 130 in Puebla to exchange important information and establish relationships.

DAS Robin Lerner with Rodrigo, the General Manager of Casareyna in Puebla

DAS Robin Lerner with Rodrigo, the General Manager of Casareyna in Puebla

This inaugural trip was exciting for me – I watched new partnerships being made that will measurably benefit both countries. The cherry on top was meeting Rodrigo, the General Manager of the extraordinary hotel and restaurant in Puebla, Casareyna. Can you guess which not-so-secret ingredient landed him the job? Yep, a J-1 internship!

Categories: J-1 Visa, Participants, Program Spotlight

About Karen Ward

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange

Karen Ward

Karen Ward has been with the Department of State and the Exchange Visitor Program for over thirty years. Karen joined Private Sector Exchange as the Director of the Office of Private Sector Exchange Designation in December 2014. She previously had worked on all aspects of the Exchange Visitor Program, including program analyst for the secondary school student, teacher, post-secondary student, research scholar, trainee and intern categories and served as the Division Chief of the Private Sector Programs Division for three years. She spent three years as a Policy Analyst and a Senior Compliance Office within the Office of Exchange Coordination and Compliance. She has extensive knowledge on program management, the regulatory process, form development, and SEVIS administration.

Karen, a native of Maryland, is a career federal civil servant with more than 30 years of service, working mostly in the areas of international exchanges and operation management. She enjoys mentoring and volunteering in her community.