Smaller Earth alumni celebrate positive impact of J-1 visa programmes
For the past ten years, the Smaller Earth Hungarian office has hosted a post-summer reunion party for their J-1 exchange visitor visa programme participants to celebrate the friendships they made, the great work they did and the impact that they had in the previous months. The party is always a highlight of the calendar year, with staff travelling from Smaller Earth offices all over the world to attend, and participants coming from across Central Europe.
After the success of previous years, Smaller Earth Hungary teamed up with Smaller Earth Group to change their focus a little bit, and host an alumni platform meeting instead. Staff from CENET and members of the US Embassy Budapest attended the day filled with workshops, to impart their own wisdom on a select group of alumni participants. The workshops were built around how alumni can raise awareness of the positive impact of cultural exchange in their home countries, how important their own journeys have been and how to build an influential network both at home and globally.
The day started with a keynote from Smaller Earth Group’s CEO, Bastian Weinberger, who has experienced first hand just how life-changing J-1 programmes can be, after becoming inspired to change his career path and also meeting his wife at summer camp. The alumni group came up with many ideas and plans to best utilise the skills they’ve gained from their experiences, including arranging charity events and fundraisers, creating a social support network and setting up summer exchange programs for American children to experience life in other countries.
Smaller Earth is encouraging alumni in other countries to facilitate similar events. Smaller Earth said the events and alumni incubator help forge connections and keep the post-programme impact of cultural exchange alive.