News

2019 Alumni Event with Yero

Feb 18, 2019

Spirit Announces New J-1 Teacher Program

Jan 29, 2019

Spirit partners with accredited K-12 schools across the USA to help match them with qualified international teachers for a period of 1-3 years. Spirit’s international teachers bring both their expertise in teaching and the rich history of their home culture to the Host School and community.  Formal cross-cultural events and virtual classroom exchanges are arranged during the program to familiarize the school and community with the teacher’s home culture and its citizens. The J-1 Teacher Program is a wonderful way for American Host Schools to bring the world home to their students and communities!

Placements for the 2019-2020 school year are available for experienced international teachers with at least two years teaching full-time in the areas of Spanish, Mandarin, or Special Education.  Accredited K-12 schools in the USA interested in hosting an international teacher are also encouraged to contact us for more information at teacher@spiritexchange.com.

Want to learn more? Click here to download our information flyer!

Volunteer Event with Gloex

Jan 24, 2019

Giving back to the community is a powerful way to bring people together from around the world. Thanks to the efforts of Gloex staff and Spirit representative Colleen, as well as representatives from Noah’s Ark Water Park, YMCA of the Rockies, and Wilderness at the Smokies, our service project in the Dominican Republic was an enriching experience for everyone involved, including the local community.

Twelve Gloex and Spirit Work and Travel program alumni showed up to help clean a local beach that was unfortunately covered in trash from the nearby rivers. A group of young boys were playing baseball near the site and were curious enough to come over, ask questions, and ultimately offer their assistance in the beach cleanup effort.

Local authorities noticed as well, and they explained that the rivers carry trash from all over the community and deposit it at the beach. While they do the best that they can to keep the beach clean for the public, it is a constant effort, and they were very happy to have the extra help, taking pictures with all of the volunteers.

The attending employers and past participants liked interacting with each other on a personal level. They learned a lot about what the alumni have been up to since the completion of their Work and Travel program. One young woman mentioned that she has begun studying to be an engineer!

Volunteer service is emphasized when participants are in the U.S. on the Work and Travel program as a meaningful way to engage with their local communities and learn about the importance of volunteering in American civic life. Spirit participants frequently participate in service projects during their time in the U.S., so it was important to make sure that we joined them in giving back to their own hometown in the Dominican Republic.

The staff at Gloex, led by Wally the General Manager, has a passion for bringing awareness for environmental issues. A beach cleanup project was the perfect way to bring a local community together toward the wider goal of environmental protection across the globe.

Overall, the project was a huge success with over twenty bags of trash collected!

It was a great way to learn more about the environment of the Dominican Republic and to get to know our former participants as they use their tools from the Work and Travel program to achieve an exciting future.

Special thanks to Waly from Gloex for getting the word out locally, and a big shout-out to the alumni who were so excited to come out and spend their morning with us!

Want to see more from the volunteer event? Check out this awesome video from Gloex!

Global Educational Exchange Video

See more photos below:

Exchange Visitor Welcome Night in Frisco, CO

Dec 28, 2018

CCUSA, a U.S. State Department Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor, and the Frisco International Student Outreach Program (ISOP) group recently held the third annual J-1 Welcome Night in Frisco, Colorado. Any J-1 participant in the area was invited to attend, as well as their sponsors and employers.

According to the J-1 Visa government website, ISOPs are "community support groups that provide support to Work and Travel exchange visitors and assist in providing a safe and successful experience for those exchange visitors who temporarily live and work in their local community, building a sense of comfort and belonging. These community groups identify systemetic issues and concerns in their area, find solutions, and coordinate forums to educate the community and businesses regarding the Work and Travel program."

There are 29 groups throughout the country in multiple states. These community organizations are led by local businesses, charity organizations, churches, individuals, or the chamber of commerce, and they are often partnered with a sponsor.

Because Spirit is part of the Frisco ISOP group, representative Austin went to the welcome event to meet our participants, help out where needed, and check in to see how the program is going. This event allowed exchange visitors in Colorado to enjoy free food while meeting other exchange visitors in the area. It's also a great way to provide participants with local resources. Thanks to fellow sponsors like CIEE, the night was a huge success with a total of 200 attendees.

During the evening, there was a raffle, and the grand prize was a two-night stay at a local hotel. With events like this, the Frisco community is able to support participants in a way that is fun as well as informative. Spirit is proud to be part of such a lively and helpful community.

Spirit Partcipants at the Welcome Event

Thanks to CCUSA and the Frisco ISOP group for organizing such a great event!

Click here to learn more about Work and Travel Community Support Groups.

Spirit's #IEW2018 Happy Hour!

Nov 15, 2018

Here in the U.S., people across the country are dusting off their favorite homestyle recipes, preparing the kitchen, and getting excited for the flavors and scents of Thanksgiving Day next week. Many households will be indulging in "All-American" dishes like stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and of course, apple pie.

This week at Spirit, however, we indulged in a different kind of feast. As a way to celebrate International Education Week, the office enjoyed an #IEW2018 Happy Hour. Staff members were encouraged to bring their favorite international dishes to share, and everyone spent the end of the day sampling treats from around the world.

International Happy Hour at Spirit

Whether it was food from our favorite local restaurants or a dish from a favorite family recipe, the office kitchen was filled with flavors from all around the world. Our International Happy Hour included:

·         Kugel (eastern European)

·         Polish sausage

·         Wine

·         Dumplings (Chinese)

·         Baklava (Greek)

·         Cheeses (French)

·         Taquitos de frijoles (Mexican)

·         Tim Tams (Australian)

·         Pastelillos de guayaba y quesitos (Puerto Rican)

·         Paczki (Polish)

·         Sticky rice (Thai)

Some Spirit staff picked their dish based on their own nationality, and others brought favorite foods from their time abroad. It was a great way to learn about the cuisines of a variety of nationalities, and we spent the hour sharing family stories, travel experiences, and enjoying each other's company.

At Spirit, we always love a reason to learn and to celebrate!

Meet the Spirit Team!

Nov 13, 2018

Spirit Celebrates International Education Week 2018!

Nov 12, 2018

What is International Education Week?

International Education Week (IEW) is a "joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences."

 

How is Spirit getting involved?

On Our Blog: If you follow the blog, this week you will find themed posts about IEW, fun introductions by our Spirit staff, and more!

On Social Media: We will use our FacebookInstagram, and Twitter accounts to spread awareness about IEW and help foster a dialogue that celebrates our participants' cultures and the importance of learning from one another.

In Our Office: At Spirit, we will be hosting events for our employees including an International Happy Hour with food and drinks from around the globe and a "name pronunciation" training session, so we can learn more about our participants' many backgrounds and show that we are dedicated to serving them as best we can.

Spirit Staff Kailei at YMCA

 

How can YOU get involved?

This week, we encourage our partner agents, employers, participants, and anyone else who has been touched by the benefits of cultural exchange to start a dialogue on social media with the hashtag #IEW2018. Share to all your followers what international exchange has meant to you!

You can also take part in a variety of IEW events being held all across the country. This collection of 2018 IEW events is a great place to start! You can also look up your local colleges and universities to find public lectures, activities, and other events that celebrate cultural exchange.

Spirit Participant at Fair Hills Resort

 

Got a special story or an event recap to share? Emailcscarnegie@spiritexchange.com with your story and photos, and you might just find yourself on our blog!

Visit to YMCA in Colorado!

Jul 30, 2018

50/50: A Global Movement Focusing on Gender-Balance

Apr 26, 2018

Today marks the second annual 50/50 day, which is a day dedicated to working towards a more gender-balanced world. There are over 35,000 events taking place worldwide in 60 countries throughout the day. People are gathering to watch films, listen to speakers and have conversations about this important topic.

Spirit values the importance of a gender-balanced society, as the majority of our staff members and roughly 54% of our Summer Work Travel participants are women. To commemorate our support towards this movement, Spirit staff members gathered to watch films 50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present, and Future of Women + Power and Why I Pledge 50/50 together.

These films provide a history of gender and power and explored where we are in terms of gender equality today. They also discussed the benefits of gender balance and the importance of getting involved. The films gave some shocking statistics in regards to our world’s current gender imbalance.

  • Of 870 Nobel Prize winners, 48 have been women which is only 5%
  • For every $1 white men earn, women earn 77 cents and women of color earn even less
  • In 2016 when the film was produced, only 21 out of 116 heads of state were women which is 18%
  • Of all the elected officials in the USA, 80% are male and 80% are white
  • 95% of CEOs are men and only 5% are women
  • Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland are considered the happiest countries in the world and they have pay equality and parental leave for all genders

There is clearly a lot of work to do when it comes to making our world a more gender-balanced place. To learn more about 50/50 day click here and to learn about actions you can take, click here.

 

Spirit Co-Leads Participant Safety Summit!

Apr 24, 2018

Spirit Cultural Exchange recently collaborated with other J1 Visa Sponsors, Greenheart Exchange Work and Travel and CENET, to host the Midwest Safety Summit. With the busy summer season rapidly approaching, the Midwest Safety Summit was designed to heighten awareness, provide training, and instigate new initiatives to further improve J1 participant safety. 

“There are no trade secrets when it comes to participant safety. Spirit, Greenheart, and CENET are committed to sharing their best practices regarding participant safety. We are also working collaboratively to develop new initiatives to better protect the health, safety, and welfare of our participants.” said Richard Baader, CEO of Spirit Cultural Exchange. 

The event which was held at the American Red Cross regional headquarters in Chicago, included presentations from industry experts on human trafficking and the emotional support of those who experience a traumatic event. In addition to the speakers, there were breakout sections where sponsors shared their best practices and brainstormed new initiatives to better prepare for and handle participant safety issues.

Topics discussed included:

  • Bike safety
  • Housing
  • Mental health
  • Emergency response
  • Credit Card Scams
  • STD Resources
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Winter season safety

The Midwest Sponsor Safety initiative is a follow-up to the success the three sponsors had developing the J-Day event.  J-Day started in 2014 and strives to promote cultural understanding and community service in J1 communities. In just three short years it has become a nationwide event, with 52 J-Day celebrations across 20 states in 2017. 

Overall, the Midwest Safety Summit was a productive day of sharing perspectives, brainstorming new ideas and networking with others in the industry. While representatives at the summit were from three Midwest based sponsors, we hope to share our ideas and coordinate implementation across J1 organizations nationwide.

 

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