World Wide Cultural Exchange Celebrates International Education Week!

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#LifeTraveled Around the World with WWCE International Exchange Visitors

November 12th - 16th celebrates International Education Week - an initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to highlight and showcase the benefits of international exchange programs.

In honor of this week, we invited our past and present international exchange visitors to submit photos they’ve taken that represent their culture - anything from the people of their community to their culinary delights. In addition, we asked the participants to caption their photo with why they chose to promote that particular aspect of their culture. This is an opportunity for our participants to share what they love about their home country and an opportunity for Americans to be inspirited to explore different parts of the world.

We love and appreciate everyone’s submissions, but we had to choose a winner! However, even one winner was too hard to choose, and we are excited to announce that TWO winners were selected! Congratulations Lailanie Enriquez and Aladin Cabutaje! Your photos and captions truly spoke to us - we’re ready to jump on a plane to visit ourselves!

We’re happy to share some of our submission below, and we hope our participants’ stories and photos show you how beautifully diverse our world is.

Lailanie Enriquez - WINNER Intern / Trainee 2018


" ‘A kid plowing the soil with the help of a carabao in preparation for rice planting while his younger brother watches them.’

Growing up in the province of Eastern Samar Philippines, rice fields along the roads and highways was a typical view. We lived in the center of the town where there already are establishments but there still exist parts of it that aren't as utilized and which can only be accessed by small motorboats cruising down the river --- there settled are mostly farmers who grow rice for a living. These kids being born in this kind of family had to start it young so they could help with their parents because with how vast these fields are, every help matters. Beyond the apparent message of this image showing one of the main agriculture in the Philippines accompanied of what we consider our national animal because of this very reason, I felt it was empowering to share this as it shows the reality of life that people are born differently and you don't get to choose how but it all start with acceptance and working it out with what you have knowing that you do have a choice on who you are going to be and giving it your best at everything because you believe in it. Cultural exhange programs are really great opportunity to convey a significant message that despite of people's differences on how they were born, we do have a connection and it is possible to be where and who you want to be.”

Aladin Cabutaje - WINNER Summer Work and Travel 2014

“This photo taken at The Peak of Sierra Madre Mountains, Sitio Magoli, Antagan 1st, Tumauini, Isabela, Philippines during our outreach program with the Aeta Community. For me, this is the most awesome place in our town because of this Aeta people. Our goal is to preserve our culture by helping this indigenous people. This place also serve as one of the beautiful place which embodied environmental beauty.”

Congratulations to our winners!

Other fantastic submissions include:

“Nigeria is a very diverse country with 3 major tribes: Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba. There are 36 states with the Yoruba people occupying the south western part of Nigeria. I am Yoruba. The men in white holding sticks are called the “Eyo”. The Eyo Festival, otherwise known as the Adamu Orisha Play, is a Yoruba festival unique to Lagos. The word "Eyo" also refers to the costumed dancers, known as the masquerades that come out during the festival. The origins of this observance are found in the inner workings of the secret societies of Lagos. Back in the days, The Eyo festival is held to escort the soul of a departed Lagos King or Chief and to usher in a new king. On Eyo Day, the main highway in the heart of the city (from the end of Carter Bridge to Tinubu Square) is closed to traffic, allowing for procession from Idumota to the Iga Idunganran palace. The white-clad Eyo masquerades represent the spirits of the dead, and are referred to in Yoruba as "agogoro Eyo" (literally: "tall Eyo"). This is my favorite festival. Growing up we were made to believe the masquerades were actual spirits but they actually aren’t (you didn’t hear that from me 😂) whenever you’re in Nigeria the Eyo festival is definitely something you’d like to experience because of how peculiar these masquerades look.
The food you are currently looking at with amazement is called Ẹ̀fọ́ riro. Made from spinach leaves, palm oil, stock fish, meat of different varieties, locust beans, crayfish. It’s my favorite food and and is popular amongst the Yoruba people of Nigeria who are known for their really spicy foods and yes this one in particular is really spicy. Definitely something you should try whenever you come to Nigeria. And it’s really healthy too.”

- Oluwagbemiga  Ajisegbede / Summer Work and Travel 2018


“What's your favorite playground? Mine is definitely the sea. The Philippine Sea is known for hosting an exotic marine ecosystem. About five hundred species of hard and soft corals occur in the coastal waters and 20 per cent of the worldwide known shellfish species are found in Philippine waters. Sea turtles, sharks, moray eels, octopuses and sea snakes along with numerous species of fish such as tuna can commonly be observed. Additionally, the Philippine Sea serves as spawning ground for Japanese eel, tuna and different whale species and it has been identified as the epicenter of marine biodiversity.
Finding Nemo? It's More Fun in the Philippines!”

- Anne Lorraine Mercado / Summer Work and Travel 2017

“The first picture was taken in Mu Koh Ang Thong National Park, Surat Thani Province. This is one of many breathtaking natural sights that travellers never missed if they come to Surat Thani.
The second picture was in the temple that located in the top of the mountain called “Wat Doi Suthep” of Chiangmai Province. It is located 15 km away from the city of Chiangmai.”

- Rungarun Woratongchai / Summer Work and Travel 2018