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.
Sixteen Spirit participants from Thailand joined their local Spirit representative Alex Wysocki for a hike in Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, where the participants are working this summer. Spirit provided roundtrip transportation to the national park from the participants' housing locations and participants enjoyed a small breakfast before the hike began. The participants had recently arrived in the U.S., so only one of the 16 had been to Arches National Park, and none of them had visited Delicate Arch, the park's premier attraction. Wysocki and the participants hiked 3 miles roundtrip to Delicate Arch, where they took pictures of the view and the dramatic rock formations surrounding the Arch. The group then ate lunch together under a shaded picnic near Balance Rock, another prominent formation. During lunch, participants described how nice the people of Moab have been to them and how they appreciate the close community environment. Participants insisted on taking one last group photo in front of the national park sign before returning home to their housing locations. Despite a few tired faces during the hike, everyone enjoyed the trip and was happy to experience the park that makes Moab such a popular tourist destination. “It was a new experience in an amazing place with amazing new friends,” said Tippawan Klomfang when surveyed about his experience during the activity.