Cultural Vistas Blog

In This World and Beyond, The #ExchangeEffect is Timeless

Members of Cultural Vistas’ International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) staff joined hundreds of other exchange professionals at the annual Global Ties U.S. National Meeting in January as they explored this year’s event theme: The Exchange Effect: Growing Impact at Home and Abroad.

Beginning with a discussion on the prospect of future exchange programs being literally out of this world, the event covered a broad array of topics which ultimately highlighted how the effects of exchanges are not limited by time or place. Below are some of our favorite highlights from the event.

A plastic display forming an archway lists "The Exchange Effect" conference schedule and speakers.
This year’s Global Ties U.S. National Meeting took place in Washington, D.C. Photo credit: A.E. Landes Photography

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How to Start Speaking Another Language

Learning a language can be fun, but also intimidating. Especially talking to people. Here are some tips for how to take that next step from an app to real-life.

1. Find a language group

The best, first step you can take toward learning a language is to find a community to learn with. Joining a language group will hold you accountable to the friends you make to continue attending events and practicing. So before you do anything, find a group, RSVP, and put it in your calendar, even if it’s a long ways away. If you’re in the Washington, DC area, check out Conversational DC, which holds events in Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese.

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Ukrainian IDPs and German Integration Practitioners Exchange Local Insights on Shared Global Challenges

In Zaporizhia, Ukraine, Valeria Vershynina is standing in front of a gathered crowd and motioning to an oversized board game spread out in front of them, “You roll the dice and move your piece along the board,” she instructs.

The seemingly simple game Valeria is explaining how to play is IDP Adventure—a public awareness tool that lets players roleplay the devastatingly difficult situation of an internally displaced person (IDP) in Ukraine. Valeria and her organization, Stabilization Support Services, designed the game as a way to bring the challenges faced by IDPs to the attention of policymakers and the general public.

Valeria Vershynina stands in front of an oversized board game with her back against a mirror reflecting a banner with the name of her organization in Ukrainian. Gathered in a semicircle around her is a seated crowd.
Valeria Vershynina and her organization, Stabilization Support Services, designed the oversized board game IDP Adventure to raise awareness about the plight of IDPs in Ukraine.

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A Discussion on the Future of Work is a Discussion on Immigration

Cultural Vistas kicked off its 2019 events calendar by convening a panel discussion on “Immigration and the Future of Work in America” on Thursday, January 31 in its Washington, D.C. offices.

An esteemed panel brought together perspectives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, IBM, a former Obama administration official, and the Miller Center—a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia as well as a partner of the special event.

Panelists highlighted the challenges and opportunities of the current U.S. immigration system while focusing their discussion on the missed opportunities of outdated policies, the difficulties of addressing skills gaps in an uncertain regulatory environment, as well as the perception-based realities of the national dialogue on immigration.

The wide-ranging topic of immigration and the future of work in America drew attendees from a variety of different backgrounds.

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International Teachers Leave Their Mark on American Schools Thanks to J-1 Visa

Even after a teacher has taught countless students and memorized their subject matter and lesson plans by heart, there are still many ways to grow within their profession. Taking on the challenge of participating in an international teacher exchange program at a host school abroad is the perfect opportunity for teachers to develop professionally beyond what is sometimes possible in their home countries.

Foreign teachers in the United States enjoy a number of benefits to their professional development thanks to the Teach USA program and the J-1 Visa for teachers, which allows them the opportunity to earn salaries in full-time teaching positions for one to three years, with the option of extending for two more.

In addition to contributing unique teaching styles to the American classroom, the nature and duration of this visa for teachers in the U.S. also allows American children to be exposed to cultural practices and traditions from outside the U.S.

Below are the stories of three teachers currently participating in this mutually beneficial teacher exchange program across the United States.

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