Cultural Exchange is the cornerstone of our J-1 program. We plan for at least 2 cultural activities a month, which means we have thousands of participants across the United States experiencing local culture. Cultural activities increase in the participant’s emotional ties to the community they’re living and working in, strengthens the relationships with their colleagues, and introduces Americans to invaluable experiences from the participant’s home culture.
On August 21, I met with the three participants living in Ketchikan, Alaska. Before departing for dinner, the participants gave me a tour of the property and their housing location. While on the tour, the participants mentioned that they have seen whales at the end of the nearby dock right outside their housing location. They have seen the whales eating birds and spending time swimming in the water right outside of the lodge. Surprisingly, although whales are not common animals the participants see in their home countries they were still not very impressed.
We then drove into the downtown area for dinner and ate near the port of Ketchikan. None of the participants had tried eating shrimp before and were excited to give it a try. They explained that the diet in Ketchikan has been very different for them because at home they do not have access to seafood, which is very popular in the area. They all tried different types of shrimp but decided that they all preferred the salmon they have been eating.
The participants have made many friends at their job who have helped them experience Ketchikan. Trying the local cuisine has been an experience within itself for the participants but they do not like it as much as their food from home. In all, they have enjoyed their time in Ketchikan and can’t wait to share their experiences with their family and friends.