By: Erciadely Salcedo Gonzalez, Greenheart Exchange Work and Travel Participant

Last May, I had the honor of representing my country, the Dominican Republic, at a cultural exhibition. It was an unforgettable night, and I had the chance to share a lot of things about my beautiful country. My presentation covered geography, music, sports, and gastronomy. Some other presenters made up a contest for the audience to answer questions about the presentations and awarded them some cool souvenirs from the Dominican Republic.

I felt great knowing that the people who attended the presentation learned something about my country. I had the opportunity to talk to people from countries all around the world, including the Philippines, Jamaica, Colombia, and Turkey. It was a really cool experience to talk about my country and to explore the differences between the United States and the Dominican Republic. My favorite part of the night was when the other Dominican participants demonstrated a classical dance from the Dominican Republic called Merengue. It made me laugh to see the participants of the J-1 program dance and sing along with the presenters!

This was the first experience where I spoke to people from different countries in another language. I began to relax and feel comfortable when I noticed that everyone there was just as nervous as I was! I decided to just be myself, and that decision really allowed me to feel secure, have fun, and enjoy the experience. Everyone had a great time laughing and getting to know each other’s culture. I got to share some Dominican food with my new friends and we ended the night on a perfect note.

Are you interested in engaging in cultural exchange and making new friends abroad? Check out the J-1 Work and Travel program to have the opportunity to live and work in America.