International students and professionals bring a variety of cross-cultural benefits to your workplace. At the same time, the program increases international participants’ understanding of American culture by exposing them to American business practices. However, it’s important for interns to be learning firsthand about the U.S. outside of the office, too. As a host employer, you are in the best position to enhance your intern/trainee’s experience by providing ideas and opportunities for their cultural engagement!
We have compiled some ideas for how to make sure both your staff and intern/trainee have enjoyable, meaningful, intercultural learning experiences with the J-1 program.
- Schedule informal, weekly conversation opportunities for your employees to learn from your intern/trainee.
- Teach your intern/trainee American vocabulary words or idioms.
- Be aware of cultural differences in communication styles and body language.
- Share these free English language resources with your intern.
- Enjoy typical American foods, such as s’mores, peanut butter and Girl Scout cookies.
- Share popular American/local restaurants and food trucks with your intern.
- Tell your intern about brunch in the U.S..
- Share your favorite recipes with your intern and see if they have any for you.
- Suggest a potluck where everyone brings something to share at the office.
- Enjoy some fall seasonal food favorites together.
- Share American candy.
- Visit the American Food Tour section on the Career Training USA Blog.
- Tell your intern where they can find organic/locally grown food in the U.S.
- Attend a game or match; ask about which sports and teams your intern/trainee roots for in his or her home country.
- Teach your intern about American football, the Super Bowl, and college football.
- Take your intern to a baseball game in the summer months and teach him or her the rules.
- Watch local/minor league sporting events.
- Suggest your intern/trainee join a company sports team or a local sports league for sports such as kickball or dodgeball or Frisbee.
- Explain March Madness brackets.
Exercise and the Outdoors
- Inform your intern about exercise classes in your area, such as yoga or aerobics, and learn the common practices for staying fit in your intern/trainee’s home country.
- Share this list of InterExchange’s Top 10 State Parks.
- Find out if your intern knows about camping and where to do so in your area.
- Show your intern examples of North American wildlife; ask about your intern/trainee’s country and the wildlife there.
- Share this list of our Top 10 Scenic Drives in the U.S.
- Celebrate American holidays by sharing food or partaking in activities relating to Thanksgiving, Halloween, and other holidays.
- Teach your intern/trainee the story of Thanksgiving.
- Celebrate office birthdays.
- Host a Fourth of July barbecue.
- Summer BBQs are a fun way to share American culture and get to know your intern/trainee.
- Go apple picking in the fall.
- Go ice-skating in the winter months.
- Check out a state fair or a local amusement park.
- Look at our favorite destinations for skiing.
- Share recommendations for going to the beach. Here are our picks for the West Coast, East Coast and New York area beaches.
Arts & Music
- Encourage your intern/trainee to visit local museums: Read our picks for U.S. art museums and unique museums.
- Ask your intern/trainee to recommend music from their home country; trade favorite songs.
- Explore popular musical genres in the U.S.: Country music, Jazz music.
- Tell your intern about music festivals in the U.S..
- Share movie recommendations or attend a film festival or documentary screening.
- Ask which of these classic American sitcoms your intern has seen.
- Recommend some movies to your intern and ask about his or her favorites: U.S. culture through film.
- Explain to your intern about the Academy Awards and Hollywood.
- Find out if your intern has seen any of these 10 must-see American films and if they know about the history of TV and cinema in the U.S..
- Plan a visit to a local art gallery.
- Consider attending a performance at a community theater or go to a Broadway show.
- Check local historical societies for ideas or share these historical sites to visit with your intern.
- Review InterExchange’s picks for the best in books, movies and music from the last year.
Government & Politics
- Teach your intern how elections in the U.S. work and learn about the governing structure in your intern/trainee’s home country.
- Make sure your intern takes a look at this guide to sensitive topics and respectful debate in the U.S.
- Show your intern the U.S. flag and your state flag; learn about what the flag of your intern/trainee’s home country represents.
- Find out if your statehouse gives free tours to the public.
- InterExchange Cultural Compass is a great resource for you and your intern/trainee.
- The Career Training USA Blog always has fun articles, tips and ideas.
- 10 Things to Know About U.S. Culture
- Fulbright-Hays Act: This is the foundation for the exchange visitor programs and their important role in cultural exchange.
Have an idea for a cultural activity? How did you best learn about your intern’s culture? We want to hear your stories and suggestions. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
InterExchange is proud to have an experienced team that is dedicated to international cultural exchange. We come from a variety of backgrounds, but nearly every member of our New York City-based staff has extensive experience traveling, working, or living abroad.