How I Found a #CircusFamily on My Exchange Program

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Work Exchanges

By Gloria Olivera, Professional Career Training USA 2017-2018 

I am Gloria, Argentinean. Checho, my husband, is Mexican. We are a married couple, who in 2016 after 5 years of working and saving money, quit our jobs and joined the circus - literally, a Circus School!

I am an Administrative Assistant by trade and have worked in several different companies, from five-star hotels to an oil and gas multinational company. My husband has been an airline crew member for years.  He travelled to Madrid, Paris, Japan, London- needless to say, he loves being in the air! Following his passion, he became a professional flying trapeze catcher and, his experience and charisma, was recruited as Instructor.  Based on our skills and passions, we knew that we wanted to set up a circus school in Argentina, so when the owner of Trapeze Arts, Inc. offered for us to go and learn what it takes to run a school, we knew that  it was the perfect opportunity and we wanted to make it a reality. Checho knew this school from his catcher training days, so I worked with CIEE and my host organization (Trapeze Arts) on an approved training plan and was able to participate in the CIEE Professional Career Training Program.  My husband completed the proper paperwork and successfully obtained a J-2 so that we could both gain experience at Trapeze Arts together.

My experience with CIEE Professional Career Training USA meant learning many aspects of operating a business while working for Trapeze Arts, Inc. In my free time,  I learned how to climb the rope and I even got to take some lessons of static trapeze with the amazing and renowned Helene Turcotte! We had an amazing experience in the United States, having fun and learning new skills. We learned about so many cultural differences. Some of my favorite American traditions that I learned about are painting Easter eggs, cherry picking season in California, and Halloween pumpkin carving.  I learned a lot about the differences in holidays. For example, we don’t have a President’s Day in Mexico or Argentina.  And for Easter, we do not have any traditions similar to the Easter egg search! But I loved learning how to paint them, all the same.  The cherry season in California where you can go to a farm and pick them yourself and the pumpkin carving activity before Halloween was so amazing and fun!

Photo for blog post  How I Found a #CircusFamily on My Exchange Program
Our first day at Trapeze Arts
Photo for blog post  How I Found a #CircusFamily on My Exchange Program
Checho training on trapeze

During summer we travelled around whenever the schedule allowed us. We attended the “Summer of Love”  festival in San Francisco. We walked around the beautiful town of Santa Rosa, encountered whales in Santa Cruz, and enjoyed the cultural Oaktown in Oakland. We were even lucky to witness baseball games and support the local teams- the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants. And of course, at Christmas, we could not miss skating at Embarcadero Center with our Santa hats!

Photo for blog post  How I Found a #CircusFamily on My Exchange Program
Christmas time in San Fransisco, CA

Our goal throughout the year was more than achieved; I learned how to operate a Circus School, which is very different from other arts. Circus is an art and a sport at the same time. I strongly believe in Exchange Programs, like CIEE Professional Career Training USA. Cultural exchange is essential in a society. We have to learn about each other, learn how to get along and understand and respect other cultures. We have encountered lovely people on this journey, which have helped us in many ways. We learned that not everything is easy as it may seem in America, even though some things seem to work better.  We are still in touch with so many of our American friends. There is one family that we instantly fell in love with – the Fans.  We bonded over the same dream of having our own circus school someday. We also loved learning about how they raised three children around respect, health and communication.

We are so lucky that we can even say now that we have a #circusfamily in California. It was very hard leaving this family we were accepted into; they even threw us a farewell party with a hundred people attending and a lovely video that made us cry! Now we are back in Argentina, my home country, and we know there are things we still need to learn; however, I believe this unique life experience will help us have a successful business. I am now working in administration for a 5-star hotel chain and Checho is working for a trapeze and circus school. We still have plans and dreams to open our own circus school. Now I feel we are prepared to do it, thanks to the Professional Career Training experience! Thank you CIEE!

Photo for blog post  How I Found a #CircusFamily on My Exchange Program
#circusfamily at our farewell party

 For more information on the CIEE Professional Career Training USA program, please visit our website.