Wildfires and Returning Home to Wildwood

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Work Exchanges

Work Exchanges

By Yuselfi Peralta Sanchez, CIEE Work & Travel USA 2016, 2017, 2018 Participant 

My name is Yuselfi Peralta, I am from the Dominican Republic and I participated in Work & Travel USA for three consecutive summers. They were the best summers of my life. The first two summers I spent working for Sightseer Tramcar in Wildwood, New Jersey and the third summer I went to Montana to work for Glacier National Park. I love traveling in my country and visiting places that I have never been before but traveling to a totally different country like the U.S. was something that brought some questions to my mind. I was thinking about how Americans are – if I will be able to understand them and if they will understand me? I thought it was going to be really hard. 

In Wildwood in 2016, I made connections with some wonderful people. I met a girl named Chia Yuan (Jenny) from Taiwan. She was the funniest friend I had that summer! She was always happy – she knew how to be smiling even in the worst moments. Two amazing people I also met were Paul and Harry. They sold tickets for the Tramcar. These two are like my fathers. Both of them showed me that it doesn’t matter how old you are, what you have been through or what things have affected your life, you have to keep going, try to be a better person, and always treat everybody like you want to be treated. Although I met these people in 2016, I was able to see them in 2017 and 2018, as well. They are the best people I have ever met and I think that they are the ones I miss the most. We still keep in touch and I hope to see them again soon.

Me and Jenny at the outlets in Atlantic City, New Jersey
From left to right: Paul, Jenny, Harry, Me

In my third summer with Work & Travel USA, I went to Montana – a totally different place: quiet, always cold, no cell service, but with the most amazing views I have ever seen in the United States. This place gave me the opportunity to appreciate the people you love and who really love you. It gave me the chance to share more personally with others as our days were without technology. I worked in the pantry of the kitchen. If you work in this area, you will try really delicious dishes. We even had a Dominican night where we had the opportunity to cook Dominican food for all of the employees.

Dominican night in Montana
Playing in the snow for the first time

Four weeks before the season ended, there was a forest fire very close to the hotel where we were working, and we had to evacuate the day after it started. Although we had to leave the lodge, that week was amazing. We had the chance to play and share with others that worked in different departments. After that week, they decided not to open the hotel again for the summer and they gave us the option to either get a second job in another place, or to go home early. As I had been in New Jersey for the past two summers, I decided to go back there and spend those weeks with my friends from 2016. I felt really supported by my employer and CIEE in this process.

The forest fire, 2018

The Work & Travel USA program is the best opportunity to explore in all aspects. I never thought I would meet such amazing people. I thought that Americans would be nationalistic, but I was wrong about that. I had the grace to meet wonderful friends in those three summers. Something that I learned was to be more independent, as it was my first time traveling to another country and without my family. I also learned to be more patient with others and to be friendlier – to know other peoples’ cultures and customs and how to treat them according to their beliefs. You get the chance to travel to a different country and learn about American culture. But, you also learn about countries from all over the world, meet new people and make great friends. After you participate in the program, you have friends that can come visit you and you can show them the beautiful things of your country. You can also visit your friends in their countries and see their beauty. After the summer you won’t be the same.

Myself at the Wildwood sign


For more information on Work & Travel USA, please visit our website.

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