J-1 Journeys Vol 2 Issue 4
Exchange Visitor of the Month Carla Parzianello
In this issue:
Share your culture
Itâ€™s tax time! Write your travel story
Exchange Visitor of the Month Carla Parzianello
Carla Parzianello is a J-1 trainee in Human Resources Management from Brazil. During her time at YMCA of the Rockies in Colorado, Carla has reached out to local Americans to share her culture. She has organized events for adults and spoken to kids in local schools. Check out her tips on how you can do the same! This summer, Carla and a volunteer at her YMCA host site organized regular cultural events at the Snow Mountain Ranch. Exchange visitors gave 40 minute presentations on their home countries, with emphasis on tourist spots, food and cultural events. The events drew an audience of volunteers, retired people, host families, American staff and other guests. They also hosted a lively international fair with food and dancing! Read the interview to learn how to host fun cultural exchange events.
What is your impression of US culture? Everybody is really friendly here. Brazilians can be even friendlier. It’s important for me to be more asser:ve in Anglo-‐Saxon culture. South Americans tend to be less asser:ve. In my training, I’ve learned that there is a focus on paperwork compliance. We have that in Brazil as well, especially with larger companies.
work-‐driven. You see those kinds of diﬀerences in Brazil as well. Another thing that I no:ced is that Americans move a lot. There’s a paKern of moving from the West Coast or East Coast to Colorado and from the Midwestern states to the West Coast.
Here there’s not much access to public transporta:on. At YMCA, people can sign up for trips to go to the grocery People visit here in Colorado from all store, Aspen, Colorado Springs or over the country, so I’ve learned about Denver, which is two hours away. In some of the cultural diﬀerences in Brazil and Ireland, where I lived for one diﬀerent regions of the US. People from year, access to public transporta:on is the South are considered more laid back, much easier. people from the East Coast are more (Continued on next page)
Spanish, but the oﬃcial language is Portuguese. I was surprised by how much the kids knew. I think they were surprised too. At the beginning, when I asked “What do you know about Brazil?” they looked at each other and were quiet. But during the presenta:on, they would come up with a lot of informa:on, so they really knew a lot.
I was surprised by how much the kids knew about Brazil. I think they were surprised too! Do you have any advice for J-‐1 exchange visitors who would like to have a great cultural exchange experience?
Besides organizing events at your host site, you also presented at an elementary school. How did that go?
Having a presenta:on where you can have interac:ons with the audience is preKy interes:ng. If there is a neighborhood or community event, you can have a stand there and talk about your country. Prepare your favorite food from back home and share it. It’s about sharing our cultures.
It was a jam-‐packed day with all the J-‐1 trainees from my host site. I took my laptop and some ac:vi:es. The school organized passports with ques:ons that they would have to answer about each country represented. We had cartoon characters, pictures and posters. The best method is having the kids do something. I had a memory game. The Chinese trainees had a special paper for prac:cing calligraphy. You write on it with water and it vanishes from the paper. The kids enjoyed that a lot. Now another school contacted us about hos:ng a similar event.
Sit down with people and ask as much as you can. Ask your co-‐workers and people you get to know. Socialize as much as you can. Although it’s awkward at ﬁrst, socializing as much as you can is important, because you’ll learn about history and culture. We have so many opportuni:es here to sit down and ask ques:ons.
Carla’s hometown in Brazil--Porto Alegre.
What was the most common ques@on the kids asked you? The food! If they are in a restaurant, what should they order? Kids were very interested in Brazilian fruits. I searched Google images and showed them our fruits and animals. They were aware of how big Brazil was. They normally think that the Amazon crosses the whole country, but it doesn’t; it’s just in the north part of Brazil. I’m from the South. They all asked if I had seen the Amazon River. They also asked if we celebrated Christmas there. They always want to double check which language we speak, because a lot of people think we speak
How to Plan a Cultural Exchange Event The J-1 program isn’t just for learning US culture--it’s also for teaching Americans about your home country. Consider yourself a cultural ambassador. Do you want to start cultural exchange events at your own host site? Here are some ideas from Carla on how to make it work!
Trivia Add a trivia question to the end of a Powerpoint presentation with pictures from your home country. Americans love trivia!
Make posters, use word of mouth and have an email distribution list. One of the organizers of our cultural events has a blog. She posts feedback on the sessions and guests comment.
Play music on Youtube from your home country and start dancing!
Food! The first contact Americans would like to have with another culture is with the food. I never thought they would be willing to try food from other countries!
It’s about sharing our cultures! -Carla
Finish your taxes... so that you can get back to the fun stuff! Let’s put the bad news first. You probably have to pay US taxes. As a J-1 exchange visitor, you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes, and if you earned more than $3,700 in the US during 2012, US tax law requires you to file a tax return. If you received remuneration from your U.S. host company in 2012, you should have received a form W-2 by the end of January. Banks should have sent form 1099 reporting any interest earned on U.S. accounts in 2012. The W-2 and 1099 forms indicate that income earned in the United States has been reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These forms are also a strong hint that you need to file a tax return by April 15, 2013. Most J-1 trainees and interns will be taxed as nonresident alien taxpayers. Most will be able to file the 1040NR-EZ form. Most will be limited to claiming they are single (even if they are married) and one allowance (even if they have children). Notice the word “most.” The U.S. government has entered into tax treaties that provide exceptions for trainee or interns from some countries. A summary of these treaties are found in IRS publication 519. This publication is available on the web at www.irs.gov/ formspubs. Once you look at the publication, even trainees at law firms will realize that the IRS has a language all its own. So, you may wish to engage a tax service for help. Here’s where you need to be careful. Many of the well-known, and lesser known, tax services are not aware of the different tax laws that affect J-1 exchange visitors. (They may claim to know, so press them for details.) Many tax services use a computer program that does not contain the software for dealing with non-resident taxpayer calculations. So, be sure to ask for details on how they determine if you are taxed as a resident or a non-resident, if tax treaties apply, and which forms they expect to file on your behalf.
Photo by Paul Stumpr on Flickr.
Another option is to find an online tax service that specializes in serving J-1 exchange visitors to the US. Google search “J-1 tax return” to find some options. What happens if you receive a W-2 form, but don’t file a tax return? The IRS creates a tax return for you and assumes that you have received unreported income. This will leave you owing back taxes and penalties. Any future employment in the United States could find your paycheck attached by the IRS in order to collect this tax debt. So, remember to file your tax return! There’s some good news, though. If your host company has been withholding taxes from your stipend, you will be able to get a refund if you have overpaid. Finally, many trainees and interns ask us, “Do I really have to pay U.S. taxes?” In our multicultural, multiethnic, poly-religious, geographically diverse, politically split, economically varied country, paying taxes is the one thing of which you can be sure. (The End)
Can you guess what city this is? Fact 1: This city was established in the same year that Albert Einstein published his Theory of Relativity. Fact 2: The name of this city is also the name of the valley where the city is built.
Itâ€™s where you can find...
Check Facebook this month for more clues!
This month, we will post more clues on Facebook. If you can guess the name of the city, write a comment on Facebook for a chance to win a prize!
Write all about it! Are you keeping a journal on your J-1 experience in the US? Do you have any stories to share? Here are some questions to get you started: Has your experience of US culture matched your expectations? Who is the most interesting person youâ€™ve met in the US? Have you had opportunities to get involved in your community? How has that affected your perspective on the US? How many states have you visited? What differences have you noticed between different regions of the US?
Submit your US travel story to firstname.lastname@example.org before May 1 to be published in the June issue of J-1 Journeys.
Hereâ€™s some more inspiration: Travel Essays in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ linkset/2005/04/21/LI2005042101662.html Want to read great travel writing? Check out these sites: http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/10-onlineliterary-magazines-that-publish-great-travel-writing/ Travel Essay Books: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/?category_id=914225 The art of the travel essay: http://www.writermag.com/en/Articles/2012/03/The %20art%20of%20the%20travel%20essay.aspx
Alexis De Tocqueville is a Frenchman who travelled the US in the 1800s and wrote a book called Democracy in America. His impressions of early America are still widely studied today.
Thanks for reading J-1 Journeys!
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The National Cherry Blossom Festival has been celebrated in Washington, DC since 1935. Here’s Lady Bird Johnson, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife, planting a cherry tree in 1965. Visit DC this month to enjoy the blooms!