My First Friend in America Contest
AAG’s motto is “We help you write your own story.” Each year over 8,000 J-1 visa holders sponsored by AAG travel to the U.S. to experience cultural exchange in a unique way.
To help capture their stories, we sponsored a My First Friend in America participant contest. Participants were asked to share their story in regards to their first friend in the U.S. Our grand prize winner was Alejandra Rita Quiroz Linares, a Summer Work Travel participant working at Attitash Mountain Resort in New Hampshire. You can read her story below.
We also wanted to share one of our favorite stories received, which truly highlights how important it is for participants to connect with their fellow co-workers. AAG would like to shake hands with Darius and thank him for extending friendship and hospitality to his international colleagues. Pablo Ramos, a Summer Work Travel participant working at Kalahari Resorts, submitted the story below.
Check out the contest finalists here: My First Friend in America Contest
“6:30 in the morning, it is not my first day of work in Attitash but I still wake up believing that I am in my house in Perú, I laugh when I realize that I am two thousands kilometers away, in Intervale, New Hampshire. I wake up, and I enlist to go to another day to check tickets at all the guests who are going to ski to the mountain. With whom will I work today? I’ve already got to know very well all the exchange students like me, we all get along very well. Also, I’ve gotten to know other north American co-workers very well, very nice and entertaining all, always offering to teach us to ski or do snowboard and always with a lot of interest in our culture, but not yet begun a friendship with any. There was no rush, I still have 3 long months.
7:30 in the morning, the day is not so cold, It’s time to make my punch in, let’s see in which chair lift I will be working. Great! I have to work with Maria Claudia, I will have fun with her. We take our laser guns, go for our daily coffee and go to the lift where we met Jeremy and Prescott. Jeremy is a very funny boy, he has two jobs, wear long ginger beard and many piercings, earlier he was walking distracted and got byte by a chair and also by the rake, bad day for him, he was exhausted because of his another job, anyway, he still positive, always smiling. Prescott, a guy with a great sense of humor, funny, with the same musical tastes as us, he is 21 years old, but looks older. We are talking about the concerts we had gone and the bands we use to listen, we also thought him many words in Spanish, our days off match so he also offered to teach me how to ski, I said yes one more time. I think I’ll end skiing with all the mountain or probably with anyone.
Wasn’t like that. First I took some classes with the ski instructors of Attitash, it was great, everyone who saw me said I did very well, and in less than I thought I was skiing with Prescott. That day I was nervous, because I knew that he is good at skiing and also that he loves go fast, the day was not so good for skiing, it was all ice, all started well, I fell for the first time and then a couple more of times, anyway, skiing was great, even fall was kind of funny.
1:30 pm I can’t believe it, it hurts too much and Prescott looks so scarred, I’ve got blood on my lips and around the chin and I cannot stand, my knee hurts too much, I cannot move and I can’t believe that after so many spectacular falls skiing, I just fell downstairs in front of my house, It hurts, I cannot stand, hopefully with ice I’ll be ok. Fortunately I am not alone, I Prescott had brought me home, he put an ice pack on my knee and I try to stop the blood from my lips. I will get better, maybe I just need to rest and wait, I hope I can go to work tomorrow.
It’s already 5:00 pm and the pain instead of diminishing, increases, I don’t want to go to the doctor if it is not serious. However, Alejandra, my Peruvian best friend, and Prescott insist on going. We arrived at the hospital; suddenly the nurse asks if Prescott is my father, we can’t stop laughing. I hope they can tell me soon what I have, but I need x-rays. What’s going to happen now? Perhaps I have a broken bone? I wait in one room the results.
Nothing could be worse, the diagnosis was tibial spine broken bone, I need surgery, but for some reason I wasn’t worried for that, I was worried about having to return to Peru before the date of my contract. Prescott tells me that I don’t need to be worry, that we will solve it, he calms me for a while. At work they told me that I have to wait for the doctor’s indications, but if I need to rest, I should have to understand the rules of the program and return to Lima. The day of the surgery Prescott drive me to the hospital, and stay all the time next to me, my friends were at work and my family wasn’t there but I never felt alone.
Also his parents, Eleaonor and Scott were always asking about my situation. When we came back home after surgery, his mom called him and asked me to go and stay over her house in Maine during all my recovery time, she would be there for almost a week before she returns to her work in Boston, I didn’t want to bother, but Prescott said that his mother loves the idea of having me there, plus that it will be risky to stay alone at home when everyone is working, the first few days I would even need help to dress. I accept and until today I don’t know how to thank all what they did for me. My mom met Eleanor by video call, she was desperate to come to see me, but the fact that Eleanor, Prescott and Scott were there with me calm her down. They helped me to not be worried about my situation at work cause I was nervous and anxious about the doctors decision, expecting that he could authorize me to return to work.
After two weeks it was time to go back home, in Intervale, I can walk again and I can go back to work as a ticket checker in the mountain. Now we are always together, me, Alejandra, Carlos and Holo, Prescott’s best friend, they always go skiing together and I really wish I could go with them, but I have to stay away from sports for 6 months, anyway we do many things together, like go to eat at different places, play pool at Prescott’s House, or hang out at our house in Intervale, I don’t care about my bad luck of breaking my knee on an important trip and have been deprived of many activities, like sports, because instead of that I could get to know wonderful people like Prescott.”
“I was hearing music and eating a snack that I just bought in the snacks machine, sitting down at the meeting room, when suddenly a bunch of people came into the room, talking and laughing about god knows what, i mean being my second language i couldn’t understand that fluent English, so i just smiled saying hi to everyone, most of them just raise the face saying hi too or just ignored me, but one of them started to talk to me, I couldn’t understand one hundred percent of what he said but most of the questions were about my country and how did i get here in the U.S. since that moment we become really good friends, he is a very kind, helper, and funny dude, also he has one of the golden hearts that I’ve ever seen in a one single person. His name is Darius, but i always call him Darius hilarious, because he is really funny. He taught me that American people can be very hospitable or sensitive just like any other country, and if everyone could experience that, i know that many big issues about differences between different countries could be resolved. Anyway, as friends, we usually talk about many things about everything, we also play pool or invent new hand swaps. Well i hope that, like me, every j1 student can find a Darius in his or her work and travel experience.”