Vistans Celebrate the Past and Present of West Coast Diversity

In what has become an annual tradition, Cultural Vistas staff met with Exchange Visitor Program participants completing their J-1 Visa internships or traineeships on the West Coast during two get-togethers in June. Whereas one event showcased the present-day diversity of our local participants, the other reminded us of the history of immigration which helped shape the West Coast into the culturally diverse and inclusive region that it is today.

West Coast Vistans arrive on Angel Island, known as “The Ellis Island of the West.”

Thank you very much to all the participants who joined us in Mountain View and on the Angel Island tour! Special thanks to my colleagues and co-organizers Erin Merritt and Coco Lei Li for playing a huge role in organizing both events.

Celebrating Present-Day Diversity in Silicon Valley

June 13th, 2019 marked the fourth annual Mountain View get-together for active J-1 Exchange Visitor Program participants, friends, and Cultural Vistas staff at Sports Page Bar & Grill, a local hangout for tech companies in the Silicon Valley. Those who joined us enjoyed learning about each other’s backgrounds, current training experiences, as well as the types of activities and trips the exchange visitors have been enjoying in their free time.

Active J-1 Visa participants rep the diversity of international exchange and the quality of Cultural Vistas SWAG during a get-together at the Sports Page Bar & Grill in Mountain View, California.

Lively discussions over food and drinks under the summer sun transitioned into sitting on the edge of our seats along with locals watching the final NBA Finals game between the Toronto Raptors and California’s own Golden State Warriors. Even the home team losing wasn’t enough to wipe the smiles off our faces.

In true Cultural Vistas fashion, our group represented a wide range of nationalities, including Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Serbia, and more. As diverse friendships were formed throughout the course of the evening, participants exchanged contact information to help keep in touch as well as organize future gatherings.

Exploring the History of West Coast Immigration

Active J-1 exchange participants rep the diversity of international exchange and the quality of Cultural Vistas SWAG during a tour of Angel Island, located near San Francisco, California.

On June 15, 2019, another group of exchange participants and Cultural Vistas staff took a ferry from San Francisco to Angel Island, known as “The Ellis Island of the West.”

Participants received a guided tour of the Immigration Station, which had been in operation between 1910 and 1940. The tour included walking through the detention facility’s sleeping quarters and viewing poems that had been carved into the walls by detainees, revealing the range of emotions they experienced during their time on the Island.

Above, poems carved into the walls by Chinese detainees at Angel Island remind us of the difficult past that many earlier immigrants faced.

The diverse group of Vistans who toured Angel Island included participants from Argentina, Canada, China, England, France, French Polynesia, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, and Russia—all of whom were grateful to be experiencing the island in the present-day rather than during its rocky past.

Experience the Angel Island Tour with Mikel

See the video below for a first-person view of our Angel Island adventure, thanks to Mikel Mangold.

We hope to see you join us in person at our next event!