Growing up in California exposed me to various cultures from an early age, instilling a desire to see more of what was out there. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in German, I was chosen as a finalist of the 12-month long U.S.-European Exchange Program (USEEP), offered by San Diego based GACC California. Continued below …
Welcome to our Issue #2
Welcome to the second issue of The West Coast Cultural Exchange Voice, a quarterly newsletter for Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) supporters, alumni and others interested in cultural and educational exchange programming in the U.S. A West Coast-based coalition of EVP sponsors has gathered information and stories to keep you updated on public policies affecting the EVP and to share the impact of cultural exchanges locally, nationally and internationally. Please feel free to distribute this newsletter to your colleagues and contacts who may be interested in the information provided. Thank you for your continued support!
Best wishes from the West Coast EVP Sponsor community –
American Work Adventures, CCUSA, Cultural Homestay International (CHI), German American Chamber of Commerce California, Intrax/AuPairCare/AYUSA, Odyssey International.
Exchange Visitor Program Policy Update
**Thanks to the Alliance for International Exchange for the policy updates:
CR signed through Dec. 7
In September, Congress passed an appropriations funding bill that includes a short-term Continuing Resolution extending current funding levels for federal agencies, including Department of State and Foreign Operations, until December 7, 2018. It was signed into law before fiscal year 2018 ended on September 30. Links to conference report and joint explanatory statement.
Hill briefing on Intern/Trainee report
On September 14, the Congressional Caucus on International Exchange and Study, co-chaired by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), hosted a Congressional staff briefing on international exchange programs, including discussion on the recently released report regarding impact of intern and trainee exchange programs. Staff from the co-chairs’ offices gave welcoming remarks, with panel discussion featuring representatives from the international educational and cultural exchange community (including Alliance for International Exchange and Cultural Vistas), authors of the report, and U.S. Department of State.
Alliance comments to ICE regarding SEVP fees
On September 13, the Alliance submitted a comment letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding its proposed rule concerning adjusting program fees for Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
Rep. DeSantis resigns House seat
On September 10, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) announced his resignation from the House of Representatives, effective September 1. He was a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
** Join and support the Americans for Cultural Exchange, a coalition of American businesses, families, chamber of commerce, associations, and community leaders who embrace the influential impact of the J1 Exchange Visitor Programs.**
U.S.-European Exchange Program:
An Opportunity of a Lifetime
By Samantha Norton via German American Chamber of Commerce CA
Growing up in California exposed me to various cultures from an early age, instilling a desire to see more of what was out there. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in German, I was chosen as a finalist of the 12-month long U.S.-European Exchange Program (USEEP), offered by San Diego based GACC California. I benefited from a once in a lifetime chance to gain international business experience in Leipzig, Germany.
Home to composer Johann Sebastian Bach and artist Neo Rauch, Leipzig celebrates art and culture with renowned museums, theatres and festivals such as the Bach Festival and Gothic Festival. Getting around, meeting local youth and interacting with my coworkers developed my language skills and by the end of the program I was able to communicate confidently in German. USEEP’s flexible work hours and a stipend allowed for travels. I visited Sweden, Croatia, Spain, France and Italy. During my internship I supported the International Relations department, developing skills in project management, communications, technical writing and more. I’m now back home in San Diego and feel excited about my next career step.
Helping Hands Warm Hearts
Story contribution by Intrax
“[To live in] a world where all children have access to medical care, and their families are supported and actively involved in their children’s care.” This is the vision that drives the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and is echoed here at AuPairCare, where children and their wellbeing a core part of our organization. In this vein, two AuPairCare Area Directors went above and beyond when their au pair clusters volunteered at their local Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, Virginia. A Ronald McDonald House provides a welcoming and safe place for families to call home during hard medical times when their little ones are under intense medical care. Area Directors Kristin and Susan connected with the organization’s message and knew that this would be a fantastic way for their au pairs to give back to the community in honor of J-Day, a day that promotes international cultural exchange.
Following the motto of “Eat, Play, and Give”, Susan and Kristin brought nine of their au pairs from Arlington, Virginia to the Falls Church, VA Ronald McDonald House with the goal of making this home just a little bit happier. With beautiful flowers donated by the local Alexandria Trader Joes and food donated by AuPairCare, the whole group whipped up a warm and hearty lunch for the families staying at the House. After lunch, the au pairs decorated the living room and other shared areas with flower bouquets to brighten up the atmosphere.
This was an eye-opening experience for many of the au pairs as they witnessed the smiles and thankful faces of the eight families they served. “I am grateful we had the chance to bring some comfort to the families in need. It means a lot to have a place to stay and a healthy meal ready to eat after spending a whole day at the hospital. For us, it was something so simple, but for them, it made a big difference.” stated Aline, an au pair from Brazil.
Au pair Karina from Mexico agreed, saying “For me, this was a very nice experience! As an au pair, not only do I have to dedicate myself to the children I care for, but I also strive to understand different cultural experiences. I was very happy to learn that there are these types of institutions that provide support to those who need it. I hope that this is the first of many other altruistic activities we do as a cluster and hope that others realize au pairs not only care about children but the whole world.” At the end of the event, the au pairs felt a kinship towards the families and a cornerstone memory of their time in the United States.
West Coast Exchange Visitor Program Sponsors
American Work Adventures was founded in 2005 by international affairs expert, Mary Kass, who envisioned the creation of global connections through American work adventures. americanworkadventures.org
CCUSA is an internationally recognized cultural exchange organization that offers programs worldwide to participants from over 60 different countries. We have placed over 200,000 young adults in hundreds of summer camps, volunteer opportunities, and seasonal employment positions around the world. www.ccusa.com
Cultural Homestay International (CHI) was founded in 1980 by a husband and wife duo, Tom and Lilka Areton, to promote international understanding and goodwill through people-to-people exchanges. www.chinet.org
German American Chamber of Commerce California’s mission is to promote cross-cultural education, foster reciprocal foreign relations and help develop entrepreneurial leadership skills among future global influencers through meaningful international exchange programs. www.j1-visa.com
Intrax/AuPairCare/AYUSA as a premier cultural exchange company that strives to bring people together from around the world, Intrax has offered various international programs to more than 400,000 people worldwide over the last 30 years. Our participants are worldly and passionate about making the world a better place through cultural understanding and increased global awareness. www.intraxinc.com
Odyssey International aims to inspire young people to define their own journey through a variety of international exchange programs in the United States.www.odcinternational.com