This year is Spirit’s 20th anniversary as a designated BridgeUSA J-1 visa sponsor. To celebrate, Spirit will be sharing inspiring alumni stories submitted to our “Spirit Alumni: Where Are They Now?” contest, demonstrating first hand how our participant exchange experiences contribute to a “spirit” of international understanding in the world. We are honored to share our first alumni feature submitted by Halyna L. from Ukraine, who shared her story about her 2015 J-1 Work and Travel experience in the USA. Halyna is now an English teacher in Ukraine and working to “build the future of the world.” Here’s what she had to say:
My J-1 Work & Travel Exchange Experience in the USA
I am a J-1 2015 Spirit alumni. I’ve been a participant of Work & Travel USA exchange program that year. It is important to tell the whole world that my experience was marvelous! Spirit impacted my professional outlook and started a completely new page of my career as an English teacher here, in my Motherland (Ukraine).
Firstly, it was valuable feedback from people who helped me to choose my job-position, prepare all the documents and pass my interviews. Of course, I was a bit worried about all those things, but their support motivated me. I’ve done my best and that energetic impact went through all the events connected with my staying in the U.S.
Secondly, Spirit’s representatives always kept in touch with me and all the other J-1 participants. They organized numerous events for us. E.g., we had so many opportunities to dive deeply into real culture of the United States. We’ve been to American university, police station, school and so on. Moreover, we had interesting parties with Americans regularly. Each participant could also present his/her country and tell others about his life before the program. To my mind, all the points mentioned greatly contributed to a “spirit” of international understanding in the world. For now, I have a lot of friends from the U.S., China, Thailand, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Of course, I’ve met a lot of people from Ukraine, too. We communicate till now and keep our sweet memories.
A lot of people got to know a lot of new facts about my country. Some of them didn’t know a lot about it. It was so warm for me to understand how they were interested in our life. Some of my new friends even visited Ukraine in 2016 and 2017.
After My Return to Ukraine
After my return I started to share my experience to other students and participated in several other exchange programs. One of them was “Study tours to Poland”, which is a Polish American Freedom Foundation program, implemented by the Leaders of Change Foundation in cooperation with the Borussia Foundation. I’ve been its participant in 2016 and 2018. Both visits were very successful and saturated. We mixed with people of different ages and backgrounds, exchanged our experiences, and created a lot of projects together.
What am I Doing Now?
Now I am an English teacher for children at Ukrainian state school. In my opinion, it is a perfect job to build the future of the world. Every day I put across the material for children, broaden their minds and destroy the frames, which usually bother their learning. I learn together with them. For me, it is a wonderful process. Thanks to my J-1 experience, I can share much interesting information with my students, tell them about my American experience and inspire them to be open to the world, too.
Finally, my experience helps me not to stop. So, I develop day by day (at least try to do it).
Thank you, Halyna!
We are inspired by your story and feel this couldn’t be a better example of why the BridgeUSA J-1 Work & Travel Program matters. Thanks for sharing with us and being the first featured alumni in our “Spirit Alumni: Where Are They Now?” contest!
If you are a Spirit Alumni with an inspiring story to tell, please consider sharing your experience with us. Learn more about “Spirit Alumni: Where Are They Now?” contest.
Halyna was a participant on Spirit’s J-1 Work & Travel Program. On this program, participants practice their English skills and learn about American customs while living and working side by side with Americans and other BridgeUSA J-1 Work & Travel participants from around the world. Learn more about how to Work & Travel in the USA like Halyna and have your own exchange experience.