By Kenner Sanchez, CIEE Work & Travel USA 2018 participant from Nicaragua
My name is Kenner. I’m from Nicaragua and I’m a university student in Managua, my country’s capital city. Being a part of the CIEE Work & Travel USA program was undoubtedly one the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. It all began when my English teacher told me about CIEE and talked me into applying for the program. After doing my own research, I knew that I wanted to participate because this was a program that brought together people from all over the world to share their culture and history with each other. This was the first time I’ve been to the U.S or outside my country. So I took with me what it really means to be independent, to live on my own, away from home or everyone I knew, adjusting to a new country, a different weather, a totally different life.
I worked at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah during the 2017/2018 winter season, as a Ticket Cashier, which means I was on the front lines of customer service. I helped people get around and sold them tickets. We had what we called Satellite Offices scattered all over the mountains, which was a great way to get to know the place. One day I might be working at the main office, but more often than not I’d be high up somewhere in the mountains, surrounded by trees, snow and, of course, skiers. This made my job really interesting. The landscape, the weather, and even the people never failed to amaze me; there was simply so much to see.
Somehow, in just a few days, coworkers became friends and roommates became family. Work was more like paid vacation. We always had a good time and snacks in the office, and I worked with the nicest people I’ve ever met, always open to friendship and companionship and willing to help me at all times. There was a strong sense of hard work and innovation, and I believe having the opportunity to work in Utah, this being my very first job, gave me a head start in the job market. I learned from my coworker’s strong work ethic, punctuality, responsibility, and commitment. I am sure that this will stay with me forever and have a positive and lasting impact in my future.
While in the U.S., I experienced American culture firsthand! I learned to ski for the very first time and that is something that I’ll have with me forever: winter, snow, and skiing was definitely a great way to spend those three months. I went to the 2018 FIS Visa Freestyle International World Cup and the Sundance Film Festival and visited Salt Lake City, New York, Philadelphia, and Wilmington. Suddenly anything seemed possible; nothing was out of my reach. I was in America, making memories that will last a lifetime and meeting people that will forever have a place in my heart.
I got to see and learn so much about America and American people in an environment that allowed easy and honest exchange. My job allowed me to spend much of my time talking with my coworkers just about any topic that might cross our minds. I got to meet Americans from California, Maryland, Utah, Nevada and New York State (to name a few) and they would talk to me about things like their upbringing and their home state. I, in return, would talk about the numerous natural traits of a small country like mine like our lakes, rivers, volcanoes and islands. By the end of the season, my views on America expanded to fit in things I hadn’t known about the United States’ great history and culture.
I am majoring in International Relations, so I wanted to meet more people and expand my knowledge of international affairs while in the U.S., but through the eyes of those living through them. The fact that I made friends that were willing to share their ideas with me filled me with satisfaction and I took the opportunity to learn as much as possible. If we want to bring about sympathy, understanding, and cooperation among Nations, it is of great importance to appreciate other countries cultures.
I enjoyed every second of my program. From the sharp cold, to those rare occasions when the sun shone through the clouds and falling snow, making it look like glitter descending from the sky, how it warmed my face even though the rest of me was cold. Those long bus rides through mountains, staring out the window, snow and trees as far as I could see, letting my mind wonder off to the possibilities of the day: who will I meet, what will I learn, what will I see that I haven’t seen before? This excitement never left me and made of my stay a continuous adventure, filled with hope, friendship, and joy. I grew as a person and as a professional. I met amazing people and I learned so many useful things. I’m sure that this experience will shape my future and help me be the best version of myself.