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 Cultural Exchange offered participants in the Jackson, Wyoming area a chance to attend the weekly rodeo for free. The Jackson Hole Rodeo has been a part of the local cowboy culture for over 100 years. For many of the participants it was their first chance to experience this Jackson Hole institution.
Spirit provided tickets for all participants and any employers that wanted to attend. Inclement weather kept some attendees away, but things cleared up just before the rodeo started and 25 participants were able to attend. Along with free tickets, Spirit provided each participant with a bike light, emergency contact card, and American flags. The group had its own reserved seating area, and received a round of applause after their attendance was announced by the PA announcer.
Participants were able to watch events like bull and bronco riding, roping, and the fan favorite – kids sheep chase. The participants from Turkey and China had never experienced anything like it, as they said the rodeo does not exist in their countries. When chatting with the participants, they seemed very happy in Jackson Hole. They appreciate how nice everyone is and the small town atmosphere is very different from the cities most of them live in. Many are taking advantage of the various outdoor activities available in the area and making friends with the American seasonal workers that are also in town. Work has been going well and one participant described his employer as a second mother to him.
At the conclusion of the rodeo everyone was gathered for a group picture with a few of the cowboys. Afterwards they were able to take the free bus back to their respective housing locations. J-1 participant Duma Alobo of Nigeria said, “The rodeo was different; I have never seen anything like it before. It was always entertaining.” Nadejda Tsoy of Uzbekistan added, “I loved the atmosphere in the stadium.”