Work & Travel prepares these young Chileans for the future
Nineteen Chilean college students from Concepción, Chile spent their summer (our winter) in the U.S. as participants in the Work & Travel USA program.
Their goals? Experience American culture, travel around the country, gain valuable work experience, and, most importantly, improve their English language skills.
InterExchange partnered with the U.S. Embassy Santiago in 2017-18 on a pilot program meant to expand Summer Work Travel (SWT) in Chile to college students who otherwise may not have the opportunity to travel to the U.S. and be immersed in the English language. The program provided travel scholarships and pre-departure English courses for a select group of outstanding SWT applicants.
"I never thought I was going to have this kind of experience," said Carol, a participant from Concepción who spent her program in Manchester, Vermont (check out a video of Carol). "I’ve been practicing English, at the same time learning, making new friends, and working…it’s the best."
Patricio, another student from Concepción participating in the program, put it this way: "Everyone wants to learn English and experience the U.S. You learn so much being a part of the culture and living here."
The U.S. Embassy Santiago knows that strong English language ability is a key career skill for young Chileans. Recognizing that the Work & Travel program is a unique and cost-effective way for students to improve their English in the U.S., the Embassy created this scholarship to help a more diverse group of students participate.
The results of the Embassy’s pre- and post-program English assessments indicate the investment is paying off. 70% of the students improved or significantly improved their English over their three to four months in the U.S.
The 19 Chilean students participating came from four universities in Concepción: Universidad Andrés Bello; Universidad del Bío-Bío; Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción; and Universidad de Concepción. They were placed with one of several amazing host employers across America in states such as Tennessee, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont.
After studying in France and teaching in China, Mark was hooked on cultural exchange. He's worked in the field of international education and exchange for 15 years, and is InterExchange's Vice President of External Affairs.