Exchange Day 2019: Thanksgiving in August

Exchange Day is an annual event celebrated by the Exchange Visitor community to highlight the importance of Exchange Programs, share the experiences of Exchange Visitors, and connect the Exchange Visitors with their community. Each year, Exchange Day grows as more exchange companies, local businesses, and participants come together to raise awareness about Exchange Programs.

The growing success of Exchange Day reinforces that program sponsors and supporters are actively pursuing ways to increase mutual understanding between peoples, which is the principle goal of exchange programs.

Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of the Alliance for International Exchange.

World Wide Cultural Exchange hosted an Exchange Day event in Santa Clarita, California. As Exchange Day events are centered around cultural exchange, the WWCE team chose a Thanksgiving theme for the event. Thanksgiving is a beloved American holiday that many Summer Work and Travel participants do not experience as their program does take place in November. Sharing this aspect of American culture is important to the WWCE team, so we chose to observe the holiday on August 5th for our participants. We served a Thanksgiving-inspired meal with turkey sandwiches, mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese, pumpkin pie and pecan pie. We played classic American park games like bobbing for apples, three-legged race, potato sack race, and pie-eating contest. Our winners received gift cards to the popular California burger joint In-N-Out to further experience American cuisine. To give back to the community that’s hosted them for the summer, our participants donated canned food items to SCV Food Pantry.

What I enjoy most is playing game with my roommate and other countries friends. And I meet a lot of new friends.

Mengting Zhou, China

Jonathan Ahmadi, Senior District Representative for the office of Rep. Katie Hill (CA-25), attended the event to speak with the participants about Katie Hill’s role within the government and meet WWCE’s Exchange Visitors. Sharing first-hand participant stories and creating connections with elected officials and their staff members is vital to Exchange Program advocacy. Exchange Programs positively impact participants, local businesses, the local community, and the American community at large; each person’s story of that impact is an importance piece in growing awareness of the importance of Exchange Programs.

Exchange Day encourages and inspires our alumni and participants to take action and practice the lessons of cultural appreciation and understanding. These actions strengthen their own communities and share what they have learned through Exchange Programs.

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce

Thank you, Six Flags Magic Mountain, for being a WWCE Exchange Day sponsor!

Photos contributed by Brandon Balayan.

K.Leigh Furzer