By Heba Qtafan, Program Director at StationCom

As the participants’ long journey to the United States quickly approaches, we see the participants packing, checking in at the airport, sending ‘thank you’ emails, and preparing for their unforgettable experience abroad!

This is a time for the participants to experience different cultures everywhere they go, so our team at StationCom works hard to keep in touch with our participants. We like to remind them about the most important steps to take once they arrive in the United States, such as their arrival check-in, SEVIS validation, and monthly check-ins. Most importantly, we remind them to contact their visa sponsor, Greenheart, because Greenheart will be their main point of contact once they arrive in the United States and through the duration of their stay until they return to their home country. Greenheart keeps all of the participants informed about their host organization’s rules, program regulations, and other useful information through their Greenheart online system, as well as via email.

Culture shock and homesickness are the most popular issues our participants face during their first two weeks in the United States. StationCom’s team is always working hard to stay in touch with both participants and parents throughout the transition. Often, we do this via social media, which we found is the best way to find the participants throughout the day! Some participants also don’t have cell phone numbers, so social media is the fastest and easiest way to connect with them and help them feel more comfortable living in the United States.

One of the most important factors that allow our participants to feel they are adjusting to their community is having them get involved in community activities. We always advise our participants to participate in their host organization’s activities for international participants in order to get to know the other participants and their supervisor. It is also important for them to find nearby volunteer projects at their host organization, around the city, or even one of the projects arranged by Greenheart! Becoming a part of the community is very important.

We are working together to build strong cultural bridges, which is a hard mission to accomplish. We want to prepare our participants to be able to adjust to the United States and share their great culture with others while living in this great country of so many cultures!

Interested in learning more about United States culture? Consider the Work and Travel program!