As a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor, the University of Southern Maine is required to comply with all Exchange Visitor regulations found in 22 C.F.R. § 62.15. These regulations require that USM submit an annual report to the Department of State which includes among other components, a narrative program evaluation which details: (c) Cross-cultural activities. A summary of the cross-cultural activities provided for its exchange visitors during the reporting year.
Over the past few years the Department of State has tightened its review of this aspect of the program and all J-sponsors must ensure that they are complying with the requirement to provide cross cultural opportunities for visitors or risk jeopardizing their ability to maintain their J program.
What is the Goal of the Cross-Cultural Component?
The cross-cultural component of the exchange visitor program gives participants the opportunity to learn about U.S. society and culture outside of their placement; to share their own culture, traditions and views with Americans; to help see the world from another perspective; to be more tolerant and respectful of differences; and to appreciate similarities that bring people together.
What types of activities are appropriate?
Cross-cultural programs can be built around any number of general themes that participants might like to learn more about: civic responsibility; civil rights; community service and volunteerism; American history and exploration; youth leadership; science, technology, engineering and math in the local/global economy; personal or individual freedoms; American entrepreneurial spirit; democracy and governance; individual responsibility; holidays and food; the media; government; American film, culture and the arts; and ethnic, racial and religious diversity in the U.S.
Remember that activities should work both ways. While we are striving to share our culture with our international visitors, we should ensure they have adequate opportunity to share their culture and expertise with our University and the local community.
The Role for Hosting Departments
Departments who host or sponsor exchange visitors must incorporate at least one cross cultural program into the visitors academic program. This might include attendance at a relevant conference, a round table discussion with fellow colleagues and/or students, a sight-seeing excursion, or inclusion in a holiday celebration. Remember, the goal is to introduce them to American culture and help them to gain a better understanding of U.S. society.
In addition, we encourage hosting departments to help their exchange visitors to find opportunities to share their own culture and expertise with Americans. This might include inviting a scholar to speak in your classroom or assisting them in offering a lecture to the wider University or local community on an area related to their own culture and society.
Hosting departments should report such activities to Kimberly Sinclair, Director of International Programs.