Kristina Scheurle, Marta Checko, and Elizabeth Carson co-authored this post.
Interning is not just about work.
For our J-1 Visa participants around the country, we organize opportunities for individuals to get a taste of American culture during their U.S. internship or training program.
In 2015, our Train USA J-1 Visa team was thrilled to host seven events in New York, Washington D.C., Maryland, and San Francisco. Together, our participants and staff went to sporting events, musical celebrations, historic tours, and took part in volunteer opportunities within their communities while connecting with other local J-1 participants. Here are some ideas for ways you can experience U.S. culture, based on some of our event offerings this year.
1) Explore the Local Environment
Sometimes, you just have to get outside. For our interns and trainees in the Washington, D.C. area, we organized a boat tour of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is a unique ecosystem that has interesting flora and fauna. On the tour, guests learned about the local environment and participated in some hands-on activities. Afterwards, we all went to lunch together and guests got to see how Maryland blue crabs are steamed. We saw a demonstration on how to properly pick a crab to eat, a local culinary tradition. We had 26 attendees from China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Austria, France, Russia, the Philippines. Whether on a boat or simply hiking on a trail, look for opportunities to explore the environment around you.
2) Go to a Baseball Game ⚾️
They say baseball is America’s favorite past time. Whether or not you’re a sports fan, baseball games are fun, food-filled events for everyone.
On September 30, Cultural Vistas hosted 20 exchange participants currently training in the Bay Area at the San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball game. This heralded rivalry provided a first-hand look at American sports culture. We enjoyed hot dogs and nachos, cheered on the teams, waved foam fingers, and chanted along with the crowd. The attendees represented countries including Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
In Washington, D.C., we also invited our J-1 participants to a baseball game with staff to see the Washington Nationals. What’s more American than that?
3) See the Art
Museums and gardens are always hosting public events, often for little or no charge.
This year, the New York Botanical Garden held a limited time exclusive exhibit about Mexican Painter Frida Kahlo, which brought a record setting amount of visitors to the garden. Our events team wanted to bring the two cultures together by attending the Frida al Fresco Night at the garden, which included access to the exhibits, live music and dancing. There were about six participants that attended the event on a warm Friday in September representing England, Spain, Germany, and Poland.
Volunteerism is a part of life for many Americans. We always encourage our participants to experience this part of life in the U.S., through our events or elsewhere.
This year, we gave back in many ways, which included participating in J Day by volunteering at Riverside Park in New York City. We worked with plant specialists to weed and clean up one section of the historical park. We were joined by 12 participants from different programs, including our J-1 programs, Korea WEST, IAESTE, and the Muskie Internship Program. After a few hours of work to keep the park clean and green, we had a picnic in the park. One of the participants has continued to volunteer at the park for the duration of her program.
During the fall, we also were proud to be part of one of the largest and most diverse group of volunteers at the NYC Marathon.
If you’re interested in joining us for one of our future events, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Exchange Tips: Extending Your J-1 Visa Program - November 9, 2017
- Ways to See American Culture During Your U.S. Internship - December 17, 2015