We love getting to know our participants during their programs, and we thought we'd let you get to know the Career Training USA staff a little better, too. For the first installment of this series we decided to tell you about where we're from. We each come from a different state in the U.S., and we wanted to share what we love most about our states with you.
I am from the great state of West Virginia (not to be confused with the western part of Virginia). Known as the Mountain State, West Virginia (WV) is known for its natural beauty and its unique culture, including its Appalachian folk music. My favorite thing about West Virginia is how intensely proud West Virginians are to be from there. Part of this is because we have an identity crisis! Many people, Americans included, don't realize that West Virginia is its own state, separate from Virginia. As such, West Virginians have spent much of our lives trying to help people understand who we are and where we come from. This collective struggle has allowed us to learn a great deal about our state so that we can share what we know with others. It has also created strong bonds amongst us all--anytime I meet a fellow West Virginian here in NYC or in my travels, we always have a lot to talk about (InterExchange actually has two West Virginians on staff!). You may be familiar with John Denver's popular song, Country Roads, in which he refers to WV as "Almost Heaven". For those of us lucky enough to be born and raised there, we know that description is true!
- View some of the beautiful WV scenery and hear one of our unofficial state songs
- Tips on where to go and what to do
I was born and raised in the Bay State (Massachusetts), which is one of the six states that makes up the New England region in the northeastern United States. Massachusetts is rich in American history--Boston, the capital, is known as the birthplace of the American Revolution. The Pilgrims, who established one of the earliest settlements in North America, first landed in Plymouth, MA in 1620. Massachusetts is also home to Harvard University, the first institution of higher learning in the United States. The easternmost and hook-shaped portion of the state is called Cape Cod, a popular vacation spot for its beautiful seaside towns and beaches, as well as the islands of Martha's Vineyard (a favorite of President Obama!) and Nantucket. If there is one thing I miss from Massachusetts, it's definitely the fresh seafood! You can find the best seafood (lobster-yum!) in Mass and New England clam chowder (or "chowda" as they say in Boston).
- Plan a trip to Massachusetts
- InterExchange Cultural Compass Guide to MA
- Inexpensive things to do in Boston
Minnesota. Land of 10,000 lakes, the Great Minnesota Get-Together, the Mall of America, Bob Dylan, tater tot hot dish, and my personal favorite, people who greatly appreciate the Great Outdoors. Many people associate Minnesota with brutally cold and long winters. While this association is not completely inaccurate, the beautiful summer months are often overlooked. While Minnesotans pride themselves in not letting subzero degree weather hold them back from outdoor activities, it seems every summer the state undergoes an annual awakening where people flock to all nature areas and green spaces to make the most of the warm weather. The Midtown Greenway, a beloved biking and walking trail that passes through south Minneapolis, is an excellent example of this passion for the outdoors. It is open 24/7, lit at night, and the trails are even plowed during the winter for the hardcore runners and bikers. If visiting Minnesota, a couple things to expect: cold weather? Sure. Resilient outdoor enthusiasts? You betcha.
- InterExchange's Cultural Compass Guide to Minnesota
- Intrigued about state fairs? Check out this blog post
I'm from New York, also known as the Empire State. New York is home to the wonder that is New York City, where I was born and raised. With the best food scene in the U.S. (including pizza and bagels), 24/7 just about everything, and tons of art and culture, NYC has something for everyone. Many people are familiar with the city that never sleeps but often the rest of New York State gets overlooked! North of NYC are the beautiful Catskills and Adirondack mountains. With thousands of miles of hiking trails and 46 high peaks, outdoor enthusiasts have plenty to look forward to. While, NYC is not typically associated with nature, New York State has plenty of Forever Wild territory. Don't like hiking? Visit New York's wine country. Want to soak up the sun and go for a swim? We've got plenty of beaches and lakes. What more could you want from your home state?
One of the greatest things about California, where I was born and raised, is its diversity. There are people from every background in the world, which makes it a fascinating place to explore. Five of the top ten most racially diverse cities in the U.S. are in California. Diversity means we've got more delicious foods, more languages spoken and more cultural and ethnic groups, so you can do something entirely different every day. Our history shows that this is not a new phenomenon. The land was claimed by native Americans, Spain and Mexico before it became part of the U.S. It was reached by China in the 6th Century and the Russians had forts here in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Traveling around the state will show you not only cultural diversity but many different natural landscapes as well. You can go skiing in some of the highest mountains in the U.S. or visit one of the many incredible beaches the state is famous for. Head south for amazing desert landscapes or north to see the largest trees on earth. Whether you love the clamour of big cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles or the silence of the wilderness, California has something for everyone.