In honor of our 15th anniversary in 2017, Spirit Cultural Exchange launched its first Alumni Awards contest in August. Our goal was to identify and publicize former participants who have gone on to do significant things in their home countries and are/were particularly motivated by their SWT experience.
We received over 90 applications from past participants that have done great things since returning to their home countries. We got a variety of applicants… we heard from participants that now work for the government in their home country, some who became entrepreneurs and others who use their language skills to teach others English. But the one thing they all had in common was the impact the Summer Work and Travel experience had on their future.
After much consideration, we narrowed down our search and selected 11 finalists that we thought best exemplified the impact that the SWT program could have on an individual.
Finalist, Kadir Telli, came from Turkey to spend the summer of 2008 in Wyoming. Read on to hear about how his Summer Work Travel experience helped open his mind!
Please tell us your experience working at the Grand Teton Lodge.
I spent the summer of 2008 in Wyoming, it was a really amazing time that I spent in the United States, I met friends from different nations.
Can you tell us about an experience you had or a person you met that made an impression on you?
This program has changed my mind. Before I came on this program, my political views were narrow. When I came to the United States, it really opened my mind and my political views have changed towards humanity. It was one of the advantages for me.
I judged all of the people in the United States because of their politics. Now I am sure that they don’t all support what the government decides. Like now, you know the Trump ban for the Muslim people? I am sure not all of the people in the United States support Mr. Trump’s ban.
How did the J1 experience impact your career?
This program impacted my career so positively. When I came back to Turkey, I finished my university and I applied to jobs. Most of the companies gave me interviews just because of my experience in the United States.
Currently I work for the Turkish Aviation Association as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.
Why is cross-cultural exchange important?
Going abroad is important because you can improve your foreign language and meet people from other countries.