Participant Experiences

Monique Loise Chiong, Intern from the Philippines

“New York culture is something I haven’t seen anywhere else — they work hard, and they are the best of the best. The work ethic they have is something that has resonated with me ever since I started, and will intend to apply it once I come back to the Philippines. I try to share my culture as much as possible, and my [American] colleagues are curious about my culture. Recently, I took them to a Filipino restaurant, and they loved it. My skill set is virtually universal, so they already know what I know. My relationship with my senior designers, their patience, and their openness definitely nurtured how I see my program and how I should enjoy New York.”

Marco Spreafico, Amerigo Intern from Italy

Many exchange interns have had great business and cultural experiences with U.S. organizations.  Marco Spreafico became better acquainted with international research techniques on workforce development. He published a report on economic workforce development and helped to develop a plan for future use of published research and future viable research questions. The Intern participated in business meetings where he presented his research. Here is what Marco said about his recent internship experience:

“Thanks to the program, I improved both my English listening and speaking skills. Now I am familiar with US culture – both business and life-style. Thanks to the place where I lived I also benefited from sharing opinions, ideas and points of view from people from all over the world that enriched my personality a lot. My organization benefitted from me thanks to my international relations and finance and economic skills. I also try to use the European approach to problem solving and that helped my company in running an everyday business. Preparing a presentation for my host organization stakeholders and speak with them directly, eventually made me fully aware of how a US business meeting is and how to deal with such a kind of situations.”

Tanja Gawlick, Trainee Participant from Germany

“During my 1,5 years in the US, I have made a huge personal development. Living in a country without your family -which means that they cannot support you when you need them- is tougher than I occasionaly expected, but with every struggle which you manage on your own you grow and get more mature. Looking back at my time here in NYC I see what a substantial amount of progress I have made. In the beginning I was very insecure, had much language issues (even that my English was not that bad when I came to the US), I was very shy to talk and not really open to getting in touch with people. The first month I was totally overwhelmed with this new situation, but with the time, all that changed and I became adjusted to a new social environment. Our [host] company usually hosted several interns and trainees, and so all of them had faced similar experiences and challenges. We did many things together and exchanged experiences and even got advice or support from those who spent more time in this city. My time here definitely made me more self‐confident and stronger. My housing situation was pretty good. Four months before the end of my program, I moved from the crowded Times Square area to the more peaceful Upper East Side. With this move, I was able to experience different lifestyles within Manhattan.”

Marianna Rocha, Trainee Participant from Portugal

Marianna Rocha trained at Stage Works Inc. in Tampa, FL. During her traineeship, Ms. Rocha was able to learn about American approaches to theater operations, and also share insights with staff members about Portuguese ideas. She said the following about her experience:

Learning about businesses in the US, obtaining knowledge about cultural differences, on a professional level as well as lifestyle level, between US and my home country, [I have been] observing differences between costumes and personalities….  My host organization is attempting to include diversity in the working environment, therefore I contributed by sharing my culture, as well as helping them understand differences in cultures, traditions, peoples and ways of living/acting….  [In the areas of] music/sports/gastronomy, I have been learning and enjoying different types of things in the American culture that are not so common in my home country.

Matthias Bach, Intern from Germany

Matthias Bach interned at McKinsey and Company, Inc. Mr. Bach said that sports and traveling have influenced his views on American life. In his evaluation, Mr. Bach describes how he made a conscious effort to better understand American sports:

During the whole course of my internship, I have met with colleagues from my office and the Boston office at different places…to play soccer on a regular basis.  To get a feeling for US sports, I have watched several games (NFL Super Bowl, Boston Red Sox Baseball, Boston Bruins Ice Hockey) on TV and live in the stadium.  I have made weekend trips to New York City, Washington, DC and Niagara Falls.  Staying in these cities and getting there provided a nice insight of other regions of the US than the Boston area.

Bernardo Esteves Machado, Intern from Brazil

Bernardo Esteves Machado interned at Earth Day Network. Mr. Esteves Machado spoke about how he and other international visitors were able to explore the US together for the first time:

I feel I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about US culture and daily life through being in the program.  Through the friends I made while in DC, I had the opportunity to attend baseball games, play kickball, do a small amount of travelling in the vicinity of DC and Virginia and generally engage more with daily life.  These are opportunities which I believe are valuable to understand another culture as I was given the chance to engage with it directly.  I was also able to do a great deal of sightseeing in the DC area with these friends as many of them had never been there before, so we all had the chance to spend a few weekends going around the city and discovering interesting areas, memorials, etc.

Over the course of my time in DC I was thus able to gain a better understanding of US culture through experiencing it, which is something I greatly appreciated and feel I learnt a lot from.  Whether it was a trip to Virginia Beach or simply walking around the National Mall, I was happy to have engaged with life in the US as fully as I could and feel my knowledge of American culture has been greatly enriched through this as I was able to take part in daily interactions with people and make good friends there.

Last modified: by The International Center for Language Studies, Washington DC

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