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.
Spirit Staff organized a group volunteer for the annual Esprit de She 5k and 10k run on Montrose beach in Chicago on July 21. This race raises money for the Girls on the Run program. Girls on the Run uses running to help raise girls’ self-esteem and get them active. Five participants from the Chicago area and six Spirit staff members were in attendance.
Spirit Staff and participants handed out race packets, answered runners’ questions, manned the bag check, and awarded medals to all runners after the race. Every volunteer received a free t-shirt. The participants learned the popularity of fun runs in America, and got to learn about Girls on the Run, volunteering, and giving back to their community.
As part of the volunteer snack stand, the participants were very interested to try Twizzlers, and were surprised when they were sweet, not savory. They got to talk to many different individuals at the event, including other volunteers, racers, and even the event police!
The participants took the train to the event, and commented that while trains in Chicago are far less crowded than in China, they are much older than China’s newer fleets. While the girls from China did not know each other before coming on the program, they are now fast friends.
The participants took many pictures of the Chicago skyline that remained brightly illuminated once the sun went down.