As a nonprofit, we have our mission in mind in everything we do.
That’s why we at Cultural Vistas often host international interns ourselves, in addition to working with more than 1,000 organizations across the United States to facilitate Intern, Trainee, and Teacher exchanges through the J-1 Visa.
These instances when we ‘walk-the-walk’ are, for me, among the most rewarding aspects of our work. This August, the tradition continued as we welcomed Jules Guiang from the Philippines to Washington, D.C. to experience the United States while training alongside our communications staff for eight weeks.
Jules is 24 years old and is a TV host at the People’s Television Network in Manila. He earned this U.S. internship opportunity during a four-day environmental advocacy workshop we administered this past April in Siem Reap, Cambodia as part of President Obama’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).
When he is not busy telling the story of the Filipino people, Jules is active in advocating for youth and education issues. In fact, in 2014 he helped found the National Alliance of Youth Leaders to push for various societal reforms across the Philippines.
As his internship got underway, we sat down with Jules to learn more about his background and the path that brought him to the States.
The Guiang File
Jules Guiang (@JulesGuiang)
Quezon City, Philippines
University of the Philippines Diliman
BA in Public Administration, 2014
TV Host, People’s Television Channel 4
How has your first week in the United States been?
Everything’s new to me. It’s my first time in the USA, first time to work for eight hours, first time to live without my family, first time to be independent, among others. As early as now, I can say that this internship will really change me for the better.
What are you looking forward to most during your time here?
I’ll be staying for 75 days, 40 of which are dedicated to my internship with Cultural Vistas. I realize this will go by very quick, that’s why I am making sure to make the best of this very rare opportunity.
I’ve been going around the beautiful city of Washington, D.C. I actually feel dignified upon walking the streets. I mean being able to work in the most powerful city in the world is special. That’s why I pay attention to the smallest details, like dressing up well.
I also make sure that each day I discover a new place or a value-adding learning to my list. For my weekends, I never rest. Here’s a video highlighting the best shots from my first full weekend here and my first trip to New York City. I’m also fortunate to be here during the perfect time as I will be experiencing two major holidays, including Labor Day, during which I’ll be going back to New York to spend time with my relatives.
I’m also grateful to Cultural Vistas for allowing me to represent my youth organization, the National Alliance of Youth Leaders, in an upcoming event in New York addressing theneed to improve access to education around the world.
I will also be participating in several speaking engagements. Yes, I will be the one to speak and share my experiences to different Americans here. One is for a group of high school students in Richmond, Virginia. There, I will be sharing my experiences as a media practitioner in the Philippines. The other engagement will be at Vassar College and focus on the efforts of Southeast Asian youth pertaining to the environment.
How did you first learn about YSEALI?
I can perfectly remember that it was January of this year when I interviewed some Filipino youth leaders who won a seed grant from YSEALI for their projects. Because of that interview, I was able to know more about the program. They actually urged me to join YSEALI by registering on their website, which obviously I did.
I’ve been serving my fellow youth in the Philippines for more than a decade already – that’s almost half of my life! I applied for YSEALI because I wanted to step up my game, widen my horizon, and explore the bigger world so that I can have a better perspective in all my decisions and actions as a youth leader.
Tell us about your experience in Cambodia. Any favorite memories?
Every start of the year, I usually create a vision board for what I’d like to occur. So I got a Philippine passport without any plans of going abroad. I just had an urge to get one because I thought it’s about time.
This 2015 has been life-changing for me. I have always wanted to see the world and YSEALI was the platform that helped me embark towards becoming a global youth leader. I could not put into words how ecstatic I was when I was accepted. It was past midnight, but I still managed to shout for joy and woke up my family just to announce the good news. We were so happy and I told myself, true enough, everything happens for a reason – that’s why I applied for a passport.
Then came the day for my trip to Cambodia. My fellow Filipino delegates could attest to how happy I was to set foot in another foreign country – actually two because we had a layover in Malaysia. My college thesis and advocacy work are focused on the environment, but I can certainly say the workshop provided value and deepened my understanding of many issues.
As soon as the workshop ended, the unexpected was announced. I was selected to come to the United States of America for a 2-month internship. I think most, if not all, people would want to visit the U.S. at least once in their lives. So I just felt blessed and really thankful.
When my name was announced during the closing ceremony, I couldn’t even utter a word. I was overjoyed. I instantly posted on Facebook that I’m going to the U.S. I just smiled and that very moment is now one of my most cherished moments by far.
How did you first become interested in broadcasting?
I graduated with a degree in public administration. But you may ask, why am I in the mass communication field right now? Way back in high school, my teachers and I discovered that I have a talent for public speaking or particularly hosting. Because of this, I was given endless opportunities to host programs at the school.
Come senior year, I had the difficult decision of choosing a major in college. I loved to host so I knew it could be developed better if I chose communications, but I also enjoyed helping people, like I did in the student council. I found it interesting to study how services can be made more efficient and effective. I had to choose, and I chose public administration.
During my college years, it appeared the universe was on my side as I was still able to get tons of hosting opportunities. My first experience to host on TV was in 2009, when I was still 18 years old. I was selected to become one of the junior hosts of “Sining Gising!” or “Arts Awakening”, a culture talk and magazine show produced by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts and shown on the National Broadcasting Network Channel 4, which is now known as People’s Television Network, a government TV network. There, I realized that I can still do both of my passions.
The show ended as the administration of our previous president ended. I thought that broadcasting isn’t for me so I should focus on my studies. I was elected to the student council and before being elected as university councilor, I was given a big break to be back on TV.
After initiating a university-wide survey about the impeachment of our chief justice, the results blasted on the headlines on the TV, radio, social media, and newspapers. One senator even wanted me to be kicked out from my university, but since we stood our ground and fought for our academic freedom, we weren’t expelled.
I was interviewed by different media outlets, one of them was PTV-4. I was regularly invited to be a youth panelist on their special forum about the impeachment. After the whole issue, the network absorbed me as one of their reporters and I was given a regular segment about youth. Later on, I was given the opportunity to host a morning show called, “Good Morning, Boss!” which I still do now. Recently, I was given the lead role to host another socially-relevant youth debate show, “Iskoolmates”. If I didn’t make the right choices before, most likely I’m not in DC right now.
What do you like doing in your free time back at home?
If I’m not doing hostings or tapings for my shows, I usually spend time with the new leaders overseeing the National Alliance of Youth Leaders. I feel fulfilled to see new faces being passionate with the same causes that we have started. Seeing them determined makes us feel all the efforts we exerted before were worth it.
When I’m not doing these, I am usually very busy on social media participating in online discussions. When I have more time, I also help out in our family-owned restaurant Urban Chick, which is located at our house in the Philippines.
What are three things you like that would surprise those who know you?
- I enjoy my free facial wash every single day through the licking of my Labrador Retriever. We call her Brandi.
- I can eat and finish one whole watermelon without sharing.
- I do not read books. Maybe that’s why I am not in law school.
How do you foresee this experience benefiting you upon returning home?
Many of my friends and colleagues in the Philippines are really excited for the opportunities I may get in my home country after this internship in the United States. I share the same excitement of course, but I am more focused on what’s happening now – by giving importance to the journey towards a destination that I know may be huge in the future.
What I am sure about is that I MUST AND I WILL GIVE BACK. I will share my story and will make sure to empower more youth leaders to think big, have a vision, go against mediocrity, and to always pay it forward to their community and country.