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44 posts categorized "Work & Travel USA"

Who Will I Meet, What Will I Learn, What Will I See That I Haven’t Seen Before? Kenner's Winter in Utah

By Kenner Sanchez, CIEE Work & Travel USA 2018 participant from Nicaragua

My name is Kenner. I’m from Nicaragua and I’m a university student in Managua, my country’s capital city. Being a part of the CIEE Work & Travel USA program was undoubtedly one the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. It all began when my English teacher told me about CIEE and talked me into applying for the program. After doing my own research, I knew that I wanted to participate because this was a program that brought together people from all over the world to share their culture and history with each other. This was the first time I’ve been to the U.S or outside my country. So I took with me what it really means to be independent, to live on my own, away from home or everyone I knew, adjusting to a new country, a different weather, a totally different life.

In New York

I worked at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah during the 2017/2018 winter season, as a Ticket Cashier, which means I was on the front lines of customer service. I helped people get around and sold them tickets. We had what we called Satellite Offices scattered all over the mountains, which was a great way to get to know the place. One day I might be working at the main office, but more often than not I’d be high up somewhere in the mountains, surrounded by trees, snow and, of course, skiers. This made my job really interesting. The landscape, the weather, and even the people never failed to amaze me; there was simply so much to see.

Deer Valley
 Somehow, in just a few days, coworkers became friends and roommates became family. Work was more like paid vacation.  We always had a good time and snacks in the office, and I worked with the nicest people I’ve ever met, always open to friendship and companionship and willing to help me at all times.  There was a strong sense of hard work and innovation, and I believe having the opportunity to work in Utah, this being my very first job, gave me a head start in the job market. I learned from my coworker’s strong work ethic, punctuality, responsibility, and commitment. I am sure that this will stay with me forever and have a positive and lasting impact in my future. 

The greatest manager and friend

While in the U.S., I experienced American culture firsthand! I learned to ski for the very first time and that is something that I’ll have with me forever: winter, snow, and skiing was definitely a great way to spend those three months. I went to the 2018 FIS Visa Freestyle International World Cup and the Sundance Film Festival and visited Salt Lake City, New York, Philadelphia, and Wilmington.  Suddenly anything seemed possible; nothing was out of my reach.  I was in America, making memories that will last a lifetime and meeting people that will forever have a place in my heart.

Beatiful snow

I got to see and learn so much about America and American people in an environment that allowed easy and honest exchange. My job allowed me to spend much of my time talking with my coworkers just about any topic that might cross our minds. I got to meet Americans from California, Maryland, Utah, Nevada and New York State (to name a few) and they would talk to me about things like their upbringing and their home state. I, in return, would talk about the numerous natural traits of a small country like mine like our lakes, rivers, volcanoes and islands. By the end of the season, my views on America expanded to fit in things I hadn’t known about the United States’ great history and culture.

In Philadelphia

I am majoring in International Relations, so I wanted to meet more people and expand my knowledge of international affairs while in the U.S., but through the eyes of those living through them. The fact that I made friends that were willing to share their ideas with me filled me with satisfaction and I took the opportunity to learn as much as possible. If we want to bring about sympathy, understanding, and cooperation among Nations, it is of great importance to appreciate other countries cultures.
Friends and me

I enjoyed every second of my program. From the sharp cold, to those rare occasions when the sun shone through the clouds and falling snow, making it look like glitter descending from the sky, how it warmed my face even though the rest of me was cold. Those long bus rides through mountains, staring out the window, snow and trees as far as I could see, letting my mind wonder off to the possibilities of the day: who will I meet, what will I learn, what will I see that I haven’t seen before? This excitement never left me and made of my stay a continuous adventure, filled with hope, friendship, and joy.  I grew as a person and as a professional.  I met amazing people and I learned so many useful things. I’m sure that this experience will shape my future and help me be the best version of myself. 

Skis

At home in the Galapagos: Alejandra's Story, Part II

By Alejandra Cox, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant, 2011, 2013, 2014, and Civic Leadership Summit fellow, 2014. Read Part I from Alejandra's story first!

I graduated from University two years ago and I have returned to my islands. I can spend more time with my family again even though we live on separate islands. I’m working as a communicator at an institution of cultural management in Ecuador and also with an NGO called Ecology Project International (EPI). Its purpose is empowering the next generation of conservation leaders. I have the opportunity to be close to children and young people in my community and we teach them Galapagos topics such as geology, protecting the environment, natural history, climate, human history, and evolution through disciplines such as painting, dance, and music. I believe that the experience of having been in the United States, and specifically being part of the Civic Leadership Summit, helped me to realize how committed each of my colleagues was with their personal aspirations, and how important it is to set a goal to reach it. I also loved that CIEE encouraged us to do something in our community back home.

These photos are just some of the hundreds I have from a recent summer camp we had during school vacation. The teachers from Casa de la Cultura Galápagos (CCENG) were in charge of teaching the kids: dance, painting and music, while the EPI teachers taught them conservation topics.
Alejandra Camp 1
Alejandra Camp 2

At this time of year, the children of Galápagos are on school vacation. So, we created a summer camp with countless activities to keep the children occupied in a productive way. I asked my boss if could teach a mobile device photography workshop to children on Floreana Island (located two hours away from mine by ferry) and he said YES! These children are far from all luxuries and resources are scarce. For example, there is not much water on the island and they must wait for long periods of time for the cargo ship to arrive with food. The resources and opportunities are not the same as in the other islands.

Alejandra Camp 3

During the photography workshop in Floreana, classes were taught in the classroom of the only school that exists on the island. First I taught them a theory class and then we went out to take pictures of the beach or of the pier. They took photos of pelicans, land and marine iguanas, turtles, crabs, sea lions and plants, in this living laboratory as is Galapagos!

Alejandra Camp 4

While I was on Floreana Island, I took pictures of the people who live on the island for my personal project called “Gente de Galápagos” or “People of the Galapagos”. I photograph the people of Galapagos from the first residents to the new generations, accompanied by a text where they tell me a little of their daily life. I usually choose people who do some work that contributes as a good example to the rest of the community.

Alejandra HONY 1
Alejandra HONY 2
You can follow us on Instagram @gentedegalapagos and Facebook: facebook.com/gentedegalapagos

Sometimes, when I walk through the streets of my island, there are some sites that come like a small breeze accompanied by the warmest smells of my summers: smells like Lake Erie, cotton candy of many flavors, and fresh almonds just made. This is when all my senses get activated, and here's when I can hear and I can see the birds flying over me in a wide orange sunset of July.

 It’s interesting because people are always asking me how did I do it, how did I apply for the CIEE Work & Travel USA Program, what are some tips I can give them. Every time I tell them about the process and the experience behind all of this, it creates a mixture of feelings inside me that contains joy and sadness; it means talking about a time in which I would like to return again and again!

At home in the world: Alejandra's story, Part I

By Alejandra Cox, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant 2011, 2013, and 2014; Civic Leadership Summit fellow, 2014. Check back later this week for Part II of Alejandra's story.

 Hello! My name is Alejandra Cox. I’m 27 years old; I’m originally from the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. I was born and raised in a little Island called San Cristóbal. After I finished high school I moved to Quito, the capital of Ecuador to study Advertising at “Universidad de Las Américas”. During that time I was always trying to keep busy, so I started taking some basic photography courses, and since that moment my love for photography began.

I got to know about the CIEE Work & Travel USA program because a friend of mine told me that she was going to spend her summer in at amusement park called Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. She would talk to me about her trip while we were working together at a restaurant in Quito, but I never gave her much attention until the time she got to the U.S and started sharing photos of her summer! I waited for her to come back from her trip so I could ask her all of the questions I had. She told me that it was a totally different experience because there were people from all over the world; she also told me that the work was hard but was worth it because at the end of the program you had the chance to travel around the U.S.

Alejandra 1
The sunsets are my favorite moments to capture photos. This one, was taken outside the park, from here you can see my favorite roller coaster: Millennium Force. (Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio)

At the age of 20 all I wanted to do was travel and get to know more about other countries. I wanted to go somewhere else instead of taking my vacations in the same place. Now, I realized that it was my time to go to the U.S.

The opportunity to travel abroad without my parents for the very first time gave me the impression that it was going to be a very special trip. I was a little bit scared, of course, because I knew it was going to be a challenge learning how to develop myself in another country. Plus, the fact of speaking a language that was not mine! So I took this as a valuable gift. From the moment I arrived in the United States I was always sharing my adventures on social networks, posting stuff, talking about everything because of my love for photography and videos.

In 2011, I went to Sandusky, Ohio with Karla, one of my best friends. Here I was working as a sweeper and she was working as a housekeeper at “Breakers Hotel”.

Alejandra Sweepers
With the whole group of sweeper girls who were in charge of cleaning the entrance area of the park. In this photo we’re in front the main arcade. Most of my colleagues were European. I was the only girl from South America. (I’m the girl wearing the blue sweater, always cold used to my tropical weather)

I really enjoyed my job, my uniform, my co-workers, my long walks around the park that gave me a beautiful summer tan (crazy tan lines also!). What I learnt during this time about myself was that I enjoyed helping the guests and giving them information about the Park. At the same time, I was improving my English. American people are funny and very kind; I felt like I was home.

In 2013 my classmate Verónica traveled with me. It was not difficult to convince her to join me- she just listened carefully to all my stories about my first summer in the United States! I was working in foods, selling ice cream (Dippin' Dots yummy!!) in a wagon between my favorites roller coasters. My last year at Cedar Point was the summer of 2014. I went back with my dear friend Verónica. This time I was a waitress in a Restaurant called “Chickie’s and Pete’s”. I always told myself that if I returned each year to the same place, I should at least change my job position to experience and learn about new things.

Alejandra Server
Working as a hostess at Chickie's and Pete's restaurant inside Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, Ohio

2014  was also the year I was selected for the Civic Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. 71 youth chosen from over 900 applicants of 34 or more countries, how great are we? Great enough to change the world! Of course it was an honor for me to be able to attend the Civic Leadership Summit and be the only Ecuadorian person who can act as ambassador of my country during those 3 days. I felt a big responsibility over my actions, because I was the image of my country. When I set foot in Washington D.C., I knew I was going to network with valuable and interesting people, and indeed they were. We had many things in common such as personal aspirations and clear objectives that each of us wanted to achieve. We still message each other to see how everyone is doing.

At the end of my trip I made a collection of the best Civic Leadership Summit moments and made a simple but significant final work video.

CIEE Civic Leadership Summit from Alejandra Cox on Vimeo.

I think the most meaningful experience I had in the U.S was spending time with the right people, and by this I mean people who teach you something, who make you grow as a human being. I also learned to live in the moment because you never know if you'll ever see those people in your life again. I once read a quote from Miriam Adeney that said: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” I totally identify with this phrase because good friends become family, and when you have to leave a place it’s like if a piece of your heart is staying there. Sometimes when I say I miss a place, it is not mostly because I miss the geographical site, but the times, friends, people.

Alejandra CLS
With my fellows from the Civic Leadership Summit during a guided tour around the city of Washington D.C. (Yes! I’m in the back row, 5th from the right :) )



My American Winter Photo Contest: the winner!

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest." Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos and videos! We loved every single one, but we loved how this CIEE Work Traveler really captured the essence of his winter in Vermont, time shared with friends, and new adventures. He also received the most likes on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page. Congratulations to our winner, and thanks to all who entered the contest!

Slide6 without video

 

My American Winter Photo Contest: Part 5

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest." Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos! In this post, we share two of our contest finalists. Check back tomorrow to see the contest winner! We'll be highlighting more of the photos we received on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page, so be sure to check it out!

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My American Winter Photo Contest: Part 4

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest." Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos! In this post, we share two of our contest finalists. Check back in the coming weeks to see more finalists and the contest winner! We'll be highlighting more of the photos we received on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page, so be sure to check it out!

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My American Winter Photo Contest: Part 3

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest." Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos! In this post, we share two of our contest finalists. Check back throughout the week to see more finalists and the contest winner! We'll be highlighting more of the photos we received on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page, so be sure to check it out!

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My American Winter Photo Contest: Part 2

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest." Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos! In this post, we share two of our contest finalists. Check back throughout the week to see more highlights and meet the winner! We'll be highlighting more of the photos we received on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page, so be sure to check it out!

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My American Winter Photo Contest: Part 1

This winter, we asked CIEE Work & Travel USA participants to enter our "My American Winter Photo Contest."  Participants sent us their favorite photo that captured their normal "day in the life" experience on the program: with coworkers, of where they lived, or of an adventure they had. We received hundreds of incredible photos! In this post, we share two of our contest finalists. We will be posting every day this week, with the winner to be announced on Friday! We'll also be highlighting more of the photos we received on the CIEE Work & Travel USA Facebook page, so be sure to check it out!

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International relations and U.S. politics: Ru's American experience

By Ru Sun, CIEE Work & Travel USA 2015 and 2016 participant from China

My name is Ru Sun, and I am a Master’s candidate in International Relations, currently at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, which is also a famous think tank globally. I did the Work & Travel USA program in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, I was selected by the Institutes for a reciprocal study abroad program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

About my experiences in the United States

I have participated in the Work & Travel USA program twice. My first Work and Travel experience, in 2015, changed me a lot, from a girl under a lot of pressure from school, with too many concerns about an unclear future, to a passionate and positive person. It was my first time living abroad, having to face many things independently while I learned little by little about how to lead my life positively. Also, it was the first time that I got a taste of culture shock, and what it was like for my life to be meaningful and have challenges. For the first time, I realized how important being responsible and social networking are.

I adapted into the culture quickly and started to observe the differences between China and the United States—the good, and the bad as well. I liked to talk about everything with neighbors, like who would be the U.S. President in 2016 and other topics as well, which helped me to better understand American culture and how people think in the United States.

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Ru and friends in front of the Statue of Liberty


After all the things I went through on my first Work & Travel USA program, I can say that I started to become stronger, more faithful, and more confident than ever before. The three-month stay made me know the United States so well that it seemed I had been there for years. I had a feeling that it would not be the last time I was in America.

When I came back to China, after a short time preparing, I was accepted into my graduate school, which is a think tank for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, as well. In China, it’s not easy to pass the entrance exam for graduate school; students take one year, sometimes longer, to prepare. I think that the positive attitude and clear mindset that I got from the United States helped me to get into graduate school.

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Hanging out with American and international friends and colleagues


During the summer of the first year of my Master’s program in 2016, I applied and got the chance to go to Portland, Maine, to the headquarters of CIEE, for the Work & Travel USA program. I was very excited to explore more, but shortly after I was offered the position, the sudden death of my young and dear father dragged me and the whole family into the darkest period in our lives. I couldn’t believe it had happened and I was thinking about giving up the chance to go back to the United States. My mom insisted that I move forward so I went to Portland in the end. It was the friends I made while working at CIEE that helped me get through all those hard times and appreciate the present. I am also always thankful to CIEE for providing me with the chance to meet so many friends from different corners of the world—most of us are still connected.

Ru in CIEE office
Ru with Mustafa, an Iraqi colleague, and her name written in Arabic


The times hanging out with friends and exploring the U.S. after work are my favorite memories from the program. It was hard returning home after being in America, because friends meant a lot to me. It took me a while to get used to a life back home without them. 

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Learning to ride a horse!


On my programs, I got the chance to meet some new friends and visit old friends. I flew a jet with my friend from Denver through Nebraska and Wyoming. I was invited to the Toyota Center in Houston for a basketball game by a friend I met in Shanghai, who worked at the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, and his family. 

I think that being in the United States affected how I see life and the world. I would say that the U.S. is more complicated than people usually think. It’s diverse and there are also different kinds of problems that exist. Observing, exploring, and thinking about what I saw and heard did make me more rational and calm when I faced something in life.

More about my Political Interests

I chose Diplomacy as my major at university when, actually, I didn’t realize what it would mean to me. I had no idea what was going on in the world. However, I always had a curiosity about things happening not only here in China, but all over the world, from all perspectives. I wanted to figure out what was right and what was wrong, and I wanted to hear diverse voices from other places. Plus, to be a diplomat was a cool thing in my mind. All of those reasons made me start to be interested in politics and international relations. The more I learned in class, sometimes the more I doubted, I was fascinated by those relations developing among countries.

I participated in the Model United Nations at the university to role-play diplomats from different countries, discussing the heated global issues with other students nationwide. From this, I got to know more about political issues. My English was okay at that time, so I was up for all kinds of opportunities to participate in international conferences as a volunteer. That’s how I got to know some international guests. I was sent to receive a group of people from the United States when I was a junior at the university, and that is how I met Colorado State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg. At that time, he was a legislator as well as a farmer, which I found out much later on. We kept in touch, and I visited him and his family twice, once after my first WAT program, and a second time during my studies in Texas last spring. Through him, I had the chance meet the governor of Colorado to discuss politics with lobbyists and other politicians. After talking with those politicians, I became more interested in American politics!

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Ru with Colorado State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg


I am going to graduate soon with my Master’s degree. Recently, I have been job searching in the fields of international education and policy analysis at an NGO, international organization, or foreign company. The experience of being in the United States helps me fit in an international environment very easily.

Ru with Mr. Mogens Lykettoft and wife (Senator of Denmark and President of UN General Assembly 2015-2016)
Ru with Mogens Lykketoft, President of the Parliament of Denmark from 2011 to 2015 and President of the UN General Assembly from 2015 to 2016, and his wife.