By Melissa Izumi, Kings Island Human Resources
We have had the opportunity to host CIEE Work & Travel USA Access Scholars at Kings Island and to say that it has been our pleasure would be an understatement. You may ask what makes the experience so notable and I can only explain it by telling you about one particular young man I worked with in 2018.
Upon his arrival from Jordan, Mazen soon realized that there was no one in housing that was from his country who spoke his language but he didn’t let that stop him from making the most of his experience. He introduced himself to his roommates, who were all from other countries as well, and soon became friends with their acquaintances. Whenever a group of students would begin speaking in their native tongues, Mazen would remind them that they were all here to improve their English and that everyone should speak in English so that they could all participate in conversations together.
Mazen spoke to me of his life before moving to Jordan. He had lived in a very troubled area of the world and was happy to be able to live a life in Jordan. He goes to college 400 KM from his home and must work while there to pay all of his expenses himself. He supports himself working as a supervisor’s assistant in a restaurant near his university. He showed me photos of food he has prepared and took great pride in that. Before he left, we took him to lunch at a sushi restaurant and taught him how to use chopsticks- he loved learning about new foods. He hopes to return to Kings Island and become a supervisor in our food department in 2019; we’d love to have him back!
Kings Island sponsored many associate events, such as rides nights, picnics and trips to areas of interest such as Gatlinburg. Mazen enjoyed participating in all of these and interacting not just with the associates who went on the trips but with the people that were in the local area. He spoke to a veteran in Gatlinburg about his military experiences, he spoke to people in line for a ride at an amusement park to practice his English, and he spoke to his co-workers to learn about their lives. Mazen made the most of every moment while he was in the United States because he was proud to have been chosen as an a CIEE Work & Travel USA Access Scholar and wanted to make those who chose him for what he referred to as “this great honor” proud of him.
Before he left to return home, Mazen informed me that he would be speaking before a large group at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan about his experiences in the United States. He was nervous about speaking in front of a group but proud to have been chosen. The one thing he would never want anyone to forget is that he was honored to have been chosen as a CIEE Work & Travel USA Access Scholar. He was nervous to talk about his experience in English and would ask his managers to help him practice his presentation. It was so important to him that he was getting his pronunciation correct; his English really improved over the summer and he was doing a fantastic job. We were invested to know how it went and asked him to email us an update after his presentation. He did and reported that it went really well. We were not surprised and were really proud of him.
When you work with a CIEE Work & Travel USA Access Scholar and listen to their stories, you cannot help but be humbled by their words. We are so happy to have students like Mazen because they embrace the whole experience- from work to learning the new culture that surrounds them. When you host a CIEE Access Scholar, they really embrace every aspect of the experience which effects and inspires everyone around them- both American and international staff. His positivity and enthusiasm for this exchange experience was contagious and inspiring. Working with Mazen was truly our pleasure.
Special thank you to Melissa, a CIEE host employer, for sharing her story! Stay tuned next week to hear from Mazen- the participant who made such a positive impact on Melissa and her colleagues.
Mazen was selected to receive a CIEE Access Scholarship in 2018. CIEE is proud to offer scholarships that make it possible for more future leaders- like Mazen- to participate in the Work & Travel USA program. These are students who might not otherwise enjoy this incredible cultural exchange opportunity — the kind that changes lives, enriches workplaces, and gives participants the experience they need to thrive in an interconnected world. Donate today!
For more information on the CIEE Work & Travel USA program, please visit our website.