Zhiming WANG – China
High School – Maine
Ten days after returning to China after four months’ teaching experience in Maine, I am remembering the preparations I made to obtain for my American J-1 Teacher Exchange Visa through the Cordell Hull Foundation. I think it is necessary to share my experience with those taking the same steps to go to America through the Cordell Hull Foundation.
The first step, of course, is to prepare all the documents necessary for the interview. What is necessary for an interview? Different people can have different views.
Two kinds of materials are very important:
(1) Something to prove that you can afford to live without becoming a burden of government of the United States. So you should prepare some income proof from your working unit or a certificate of deposit from the bank.
(2) Documents that can assure the immigration official that you are sure to return to your motherland at the end of your visa term. To support this, you must prepare some pictures or proofs of your real estate, car, family photo, marriage certificate or something that shows your kid or kids are at school in China. All these are very important although it is possible that you may use just some of them because you are not sure which will be used.
My J-1 visa interview at the US Embassy in Shanghai —
I arrived an hour ahead of schedule. I was well-dressed for the interview. I thought this was not to show off my wealth but to show my respect to the immigration official. In front the Embassy many people were already waiting in line. When it was my turn to enter the Embassy, I got inside, went through a safety check and came to the waiting hall. Because there were a lot of people there waiting for the interview, people waited in line again. I observed and found there are about ten windows for interview. Soon it was my turn to see the immigration official.
The following was the dialogue:
Me： Good afternoon, sir. These are my materials.
Officer: Thank you.
Me: (speaking very fast while he is reading the materials) I am going to stay in America for about four months. I am going to teach there. This is part of the agreement between my school and my sister school in America. I am going to go there to broaden my knowledge about the American culture and custom. I also want to enrich my skills and experience there. This is very important to my work when I come back to China four months later.
Officer: Ehen,,,(very interested and friendly) You are going beck four months later?
Me: Yes, my students are waiting for me. So I have to come back four months later.……
Me: My wife is also a teacher. She works in the same unit as mine. My daughter is a college student in Hangzhou.
Officer: So you work in the Zhejiang Normal University?
Me: Yes. I work there.
Officer: How many years have you been a teacher?
Me: I have been a teacher for twenty-three years.
Officer: Oh. (signing his name quickly)
Me: Do I pass?
Officer: Yes, of course. Congratulations!
Me: Thank you, sir! Thank you.
Officer: Cordell Hull is my hero. Good luck to you!
All done! The rest of my preparing work was just to book my plane ticket and pack up all my luggage.
Many friends asked me what impressed me most while I stayed in the States. My response was that there were so many impressive things but what stood out in my mind were American people’s good habits of protecting the environment and their good manners in social activities.
It was winter time when I got to Maine where I was to work. Ice-fishing was a very popular outdoor activity. People stayed on the ice hunting for fish. They usually stayed there for hours or even a whole day. It was unavoidable that they would produce some trash. However, when they left, they would collect all their trash, put them in a bag and carry them away. They did these willingly. If you look at the roadside, you can hardly find plastics bags or bottles, because people know it is not good to throw trash about.
Towards the end of April, the ice in the lake in the northeast of the States melts and water opens. If you look at the blue water of the lake, you can hardly find any trash left by human being.
American people’s good manners in social activities also impressed me very much. In the State of Maine, I took part in many activities, such as seeing films, watching plays, speaking at the club’s breakfast get-together, people came into the hall in line, clapped when it was necessary, laughed when it was proper. They always kept in mind ladies first and keeping quiet. I like that.
What I want to say at the end of the article is THANK YOU to the Cordell Hull Foundation. And I would express my great gratitude to Marianne Mason, the Executive Director, who helped me lot. I am sure more and more teachers will succeed in becoming an exchange teacher in the States through CHF.