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EMPLOYER TOOLKIT: CULTURAL INTEGRATION MANAGEMENT TIPS

One of the many benefits of Work and Travel USA is that it brings the world to your community, giving you, your guests, your domestic staff, and your exchange visitors the chance to exchange cultures. The resources below will help you make the most of this opportunity.

Before your exchange visitors arrive:

  1. Watch the CIEE Work & Travel USA Fundamentals webinar and share it with your supervisors and staff; this is a great opportunity to get everyone ready for summer.
  2. Culture Grams will help you learn more about the culture in your participants’ countries.
  3. Check out these additional resources on our website:

Upon arrival:

  1. Icebreakers: What better way to break the ice than with an icebreaker? An example to get you started:
    • ABC, This Is Me! Each attendee should write their name vertically on a sheet of paper and then list one word horizontally that starts with each letter of their name. These words should reveal something about their personality, character, home country, etc. We recommend you or a supervisor share first to set an example.
  2. Host a pizza party!
    • While enjoying the food, engage in conversation. One question we recommend asking all your exchange visitors: What would you like to experience while you are in the United States?
  3. Implement a buddy system.
    • Connect a domestic staff member with each exchange visitor. Buddy systems are a great way to facilitate friendships.

Throughout the summer:

  1. To keep exchange visitors and domestic staff engaged throughout the summer, post the calendar you received from CIEE and add important community events such as:
    • Shows and concerts
    • Fairs and festivals
    • Parades
    • Other local events
  2. Facilitate cultural exchange by encouraging your students to share their culture and customs. A few examples to get you started:
    • Host a potluck dinner and invite exchange visitors to bring cuisine from their home countries.
    • Create a bulletin board on which exchange visitors and domestic staff can pin photos or items from their home countries or states.
    • Introduce a “Word of the Week.” Ask exchange visitors to translate a word into their native languages and teach it to the rest of your staff. Choose a new word every week!
  3. Continue to train your supervisors:
    • Watch the “Dive Deeper into Culture” webinar (access the recorded version here)
    • When conflicts or misunderstandings arise, debrief those involved and share the insights with your entire staff; in other words, use conflicts or misunderstandings as opportunities to learn.
    • Be on the lookout for more CIEE webinars this summer.

We hope the steps above will contribute to another successful summer season. Remember to send your stories and photos to hire@ciee.org. We’re especially interested in hearing from employers who’ve developed their own icebreakers or welcome events. Share your successes with the rest of us!

For additional resources, please visit Knowledge Base In-Country Support or review previous Toolkit articles.

Andrei Bazaiac, International Recruitment Consultant

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