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J-1 Journeys Vol 2 Issue 4

April 2013

Exchange Visitor of the Month Carla Parzianello

In this issue:

Share your culture

It’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  

(The End)

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 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.

It’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 you’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 before May 1 to be published in the June issue of J-1 Journeys.

Here’s some more inspiration: Travel Essays in the Washington Post: linkset/2005/04/21/LI2005042101662.html Want to read great travel writing? Check out these sites: Travel Essay Books: The art of the travel essay: %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.

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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!

J-Journeys April 2013  

Share your culture! Exchange Visitor of the Month Carla Parzianello has tips on how to host an awesome cultural exchange event!