How To Plug Your Participants Into The Local Culture
As our exchange participants from across the world arrive in the U.S., they are eager to see what the country has to offer. Hosts of these young people -- whether host employers, camps, or families -- play an essential role in helping them learn about American culture.
Showcasing U.S. culture doesn't need to be complicated. There are two main ways you can do so: hosting cultural events and promoting events in the community.
Image courtesy of Sutida W., 2018 Work & Travel USA Program participant
Hosting Cultural Events
Take the time at least once per month to throw an event for your participants that is specifically focused on cultural exchange.
- Karaoke: Encourage participants to sing their favorite American songs.
- Explore nature: Go hiking, kayaking, or take a nature walk.
- Food events: Host an American-style barbecue or picnic.
- Employee birthday: For many participants, this may be their first birthday away from home. Help make it unique by organizing a party and singing different versions of "Happy Birthday" from all over the world.
- Trivia night: Host a trivia night! See how much participants have learned about American culture by using these questions.
- American holidays: One of the strongest insights into a culture is its holidays, like the 4th of July in the U.S. Picnics and potlucks work well for these celebrations.
- Volunteer event: Get students together for a day or an hour of volunteering! Partner with a local organization for more interaction with Americans.
- Movie night: Organizing a movie night showing a classic American film is a simple way to enjoy U.S. culture.
- Cultural scavenger hunt: Organize this fun game to help students learn about one another.
- Game night: Bring classic board games like Monopoly, Pictionary, or Scrabble.
Promoting Events in the Community
Community events are the perfect way to showcase U.S. culture and interact with Americans. Make a calendar of the below happenings in your area and encourage participants to attend as many as possible. Remind them that as students, they'll often get a discount!
- Visit a museum, theatre, or concert hall.
- Cheer on the home team at a sporting event.
- Attend a festival or holiday parade.
- Hit up the farmer's market.
- Join a local sports team.
- Try a meetup group.
- Explore the local library.
- Take advantage of activities that are hosted for international exchange participants and their hosts by local Community Support Groups.
Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the USA, then moved overseas to London and Sydney. She currently resides in Jakarta, Indonesia, giving her a unique perspective on working and thriving in a culture not her own. Joy graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Marketing and started her career in the au pair industry. She works on the blog and social media for the Au Pair USA program.
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