Cultural Vistas Blog

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

Three members of Conversational DC stand in a crowd talking over drinks.

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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Kuwaiti Women in STEM Complete Internships in the Windy City

Global perspective is part of the fabric of engineering and architecture design consulting firm EXP. The company has over 110 office locations across the U.S. and Canada employing people from all around the world. In addition to their penchant for hiring top global talent, EXP helps grow the careers of those just starting out in the field in its role as a host company of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

Since 2011, EXP has had a special relationship with the next generation of professionals from Kuwait as a host for the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, which leads a professional development program for recent Kuwaiti graduates. Every year, 10 or more interns come to EXP’s Chicago headquarters through Cultural Vistas’ J-1 Visa sponsorship.

(From left to right) Sarah Johar, Sarah Ali, Zeenab Adnan Al-Saleh, Lulwah Alzamel and Anwar Alsharhan completed J-1 Visa internships at EXP after studying architecture and engineering in Kuwait.

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