Graciela Fuentes de Bedoya’s cultural exchange program has been very productive in today’s ever shrinking world. She is the director and the brains behind the thriving Cultural Exchange Program between the United States and Peru. From an initial trip to the United States when she was in her late twenties, she was inspired to ensure that Peruvians could access all the resources they need. The Peruvian capitalizes on her past experience within the US to promote constructive travel between the countries. According to her, students travelling from Peru will gain a lot of knowledge and cultural experience just as students coming from the United States.
Graciela Fuentes de Bedoya’s compassion and selflessness was a motivating factor in her efforts to promote a Cultural Exchange Program. From what she saw on her first visit to the United States, she realized that something has to be done to uplift the standards of living in Peru. Since the young people hold the key to the future, her idea was to have students visiting the United States, gaining some knowledge and coming back home to apply it. Today there are more than 150 students who take part in the cultural exchange program each summer and Fuentes has sent thousands of students on exchange programs to the U.S. till date. Through her website, it is possible for students to get access to meaningful information on the cultural exchange program.
This way, the Peruvians would have more exposure of the outside world and be in a position to uplift their own standards of living. Some of the expectations for the students visiting Peru from the United States include jobs, often related to translation and English speaking, as well as learning a new language. More and more students across Peru are looking for jobs and experiences abroad during their summer breaks. They learn to live alone without the support of family and friends and also figure out how to manage their time and money. But most importantly, they develop their personal skills, learn about others at a global level and have a new view of the world.
American students can expect to learn about a different culture and South American traditions that are not dominant in the North. The Southern continent also offers a number of allures for students visiting. This is because they can access a lot of historic information and learn the background of both the Spanish and Portuguese way of life. Peru has a good coast line with white, sandy beaches that promotes tourism in the area.
Full time Peruvian students who are 18 to 27 years of age visit the United States for a period of up to six months. The exchange students can showcase their culture, familiarize themselves with other traditions interact with people from a different background, and get paid to work legally in the US. Exchange students often come for a few months during their summer break and find work in hotels, ski resorts and pharmacies among others. For the duration that the students spend in the United States, they are able to learn new concepts, improve their English, learn real life career skills as well as enhance their resume by their work experience in American companies. The personal growth and learning for the students as well as the host families is profound and long lasting. Therefore, the cultural exchange program ends up being a favorable to-and-fro that benefits all parties in the long run.
The obvious benefits of the cultural exchange program are that it gives an opportunity for Peruvians to see the outside world. By learning directly from the knowledge and experience of a super power country, it might be possible to influence change at home. Students are the bedrock of the future because it will be up to them to reform their own country and improve their living standards. Such inter cultural learning opportunities change their lives and the exposure to another culture challenges their own cultural values. Therefore, gaining direct knowledge and insight will open up the doors to a better future. Students also gain increased maturity and skills that make them more successful in their academic as well as professional lives.
As much as the Cultural exchange program between the United States and Peru is beneficial, there might be a few hiccups at the beginning. First off, students coming from Peru as well as students coming from the United States will have to embrace a new culture and new language. Communication may be a problem as they try to come to terms with their new surroundings. This is a minor issue that can be easily surmounted with a little preparation, patience and an open mindset. After all, it’s an exciting life changing experience for most!
With Graciela Fuentes de Bedoya at the helm of the Cultural exchange program, young Peruvians and Americans alike can look forward to a brighter future.