August 2019 Most Valuable Participant: Airica Fe Orig Allig

Congratulations, Airica! We chose Airica because of her responses on her Evaluation where she shared about some hard adjustments that she overcame. We are proud of her for not giving up in the face of difficulty. Airica’s manager shared the following:

Airica is a Rockstar of the highest magnitude. The amount of work she produces far outweighs her small stature. She is an absolute joy to have at the Beach Club and is sorely missed in The Kitchen restaurant. The only downside to Airica is that she will eventually leave us, but as we say “Once a Rocker, always a Rocker.” And we can rest easy knowing that she will be successful on any paths she takes in the future.
Kenneth Finegan
Director of Food & Beverage, Hard Rock Hotel

Name: Airica Fe Orig Allig

Position: Food & Beverage Intern

Location: Hard Rock Hotel Orlando 

Fun fact about you: I acted like a boy when I was still a kid.

Why did you choose to come on a Cultural Exchange Training Program? How are you hoping to apply this program once you’ve returned home?

Aside from honing my skills and broadening my knowledge with the Hospitality Industry, I felt that joining this program is an opportunity for me to get a deeper understanding of the different cultures. Another thing is that I want to disprove the misconception about Filipinos that we are just good at being nurses and prove them that we also have something to show off in the Hospitality Industry. Hehehe. Yes, joining this program was one of the greatest decision I made. I’ve been learning a lot, the set up is far different from what we have from the Philippines. Improving my skills and knowledge doesn’t stop after I finish this program but rather it’s a continuing learning process as I pursue my career. The most important thing that for sure I can take with me is that this program widened my perspectives, it increases my acceptance to the world we live in, it opened great opportunities and that hardwork and being the best you can be will take you to greater things.

What have you learned about the city you’re living in?

Orlando, Florida is way different from the place where I live in the Philippines. Aside from having big grocery store, the first thing that I noticed here in Orlando is that there are a lot of lakes, it’s everywhere and aligators are everywhere too! Orlando is the only place where I witnessed a very weird weather, like really wierd! Like it’s raining hard then after a couple of minutes, the sun is shining or sometimes, it’s raining in the area where I am and the sun is shining in a few miles away. I also noticed and I think when you move to Orlando, you need to drive more or at least own a car because places here is 15-20 minutes away from each other. But the best thing I like the most is that Orlando is home to the best Theme Parks in the world. I live a few miles away from Universal Studios, Seaworld, Disneyland and other theme parks and the best part is we have a free pass! Orlando also has a lot more than meets the eye - from having the best springs and beaches to having very diverse people which made me start to learn Spanish. (Hola! Como Estas?)

What has been the most surprising thing about American Culture?

Americans are very known to be very liberated, they do things whatever they want. They are very good at saying the things that they want to convey and are very frank too even if it hurts your feelings. They made me realize that nobody cares about your feelings and that you must be tough enough to survive the “real world”. What fascinates me the most is that it feels like Americans live in a classless society where people seems like living in a same standard. You can never distinguish rich from those who are not. Like everybody has access to foods, shops in the same mall, supermarket or outlet stores. I see janitors, dishwashers, or those minimum wage workers who drives nice cars which is way more different in the Philippines where in some of them barely make ends meet. Americans are also very adventurous, they take vacations seriously like how they do their holidays seriously. Others tend to dress up and go to nice restaurants or held a party in their house. The best things are the Black Friday, 4th of July Sale, Prime Day or Cyber Monday and huge sales at stores during Easter, Halloween, and especially during Christmas. At the end of the day it all boils down to how you treat people whoever they are. Respecting each other’s differences will lead to a better understanding not only of others but also of yourself. Respect is a very big word that the world needs to become a better place.

What experience has impacted you the most since you have been in the US?

Way back in the Philippines, I’ve been watching Hollywood movies and I always wondered how it feels to be living in the US. It looks good from the movies like its so vibrant and now here I am, surviving and living the American dream. What I love the most was getting super-sized foods, getting free drink refills (I love my country but we don’t get this, only unli-rice LOL), I can wear whatever I want without people judging me but the only downside is that coins are very confusing! Kidding aside, living in an unfamiliar and diverse country made me see life in a different way. I became independent, I do things that I never thought I could do and I became more understanding with the world we live in. There are also a lot of factors that made my experience awesome; the people I am working with, the new friends I met, and the places I’ve been to. It’s not just the free passes or the discounts or the cheap bus rides but its about how this program changed my life and these tan lines I have now, I know its’s gonna be all worth it.

K.Leigh FurzerMVP, APT