By Eva Pacheco, Human Resources Director at Ace Hotel & Swim Club

Eva is from the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, California. She is excited for incoming participants of the work and travel program every season. Here, she describes how she prepared for the Spring 2014 season arrivals. 

February 2014: Before J-1 participants’ arrival

It’s almost time for my J-1 students to arrive and I’m so excited! I like to send them a little note about a month before they are scheduled to arrive with some tips on what to wear, how much to pack, and what to expect when they get here. I try to make sure that they are at ease when they arrive to make the best of their visit to the United States. It is easy to keep updated with their arrival dates through CCI Greenheart’s online portal for employers, but I also ask the students to keep me updated on any travel changes. (It can get a little confusing when they all have different dates within a few days – sometimes hours – of each other). That way, we can coordinate transportation from the airport.  But with frequent communication, we make it work.

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I don’t have to do much to get my students excited for the experience that they are about to embark upon, so I spend some time getting my U.S. staff acquainted with the incoming students. I post pictures of the students with their names (or nicknames) in our employee cafeteria with a little something about them, such as a hobby or special interest, and the department they will be working in. Often this helps to make our students feel welcomed when they get here as they are recognized and greeted warmly by our staff. It also helps them to connect with people that have similar interests or hobbies outside of work.Eva - breakroom

This is also the time that I start to plan our first cultural activity. The weather is warm in Palm Springs this winter, so an outdoor activity would be a great opportunity to help our students appreciate our beautiful desert community. I like to include information about how nice the weather is and the fun things we have planned for them, so they are enthusiastic as soon as they arrive!

We also love to be a part of CCI Greenheart’s virtue of volunteerism. I look into different activities and organizations that our participants can get involved in during their stay. This week, I’m excited to have Joe Burns from CCI Greenheart join us during a volunteer project! We will be preparing food to pass out to the homeless in Sunset Park. There is an increasing homeless population in the Coachella Valley, so I always try to involve myself and others in any volunteer activities benefiting his group.

I anticipate every season with participants to be very fulfilling, and I am never let down!