We are so excited to have you participating in our exchange
programs! Below is information on how we help prepare you for your
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions or needs.
Preparing To Go
The CONNECT staff will work with each participant to prepare them for their visa interview, including providing them an invitation letter. It is the participant’s responsibility to schedule and pay for their visas. If a participant already has a valid visa to the U.S., please inform the CONNECT staff with the visa type and number.
CONNECT staff will work with each participant to make recommendations on travel. It is the participant’s responsibility to book and pay for their own travel, but their travel must be coordinated with CONNECT staff BEFORE booking.
CONNECT seeks to have all participants going to a particular location book the same itinerary so they can travel together and get picked up and dropped off together, and align with program start and finish dates and activities.
Participants who choose to arrive to a host city or another U.S. location before the program date, and/or remain in the host city or another U.S. location after the program end date will be responsible for making and paying for their own hotel, transportation, food and medical insurance costs.
Approximately 1 month prior to your departure, CONNECT staff will schedule an orientation meeting with all of those participating in your program. It is important that you attend this meeting, as valuable information will be shared, and you can get all of your questions answered.
You will receive an orientation manual along with a CONNECT notebook. Here is a copy of that manual along with the PPT used during that meeting.
CONNECT carefully chooses leading professionals and loving host families to welcome and serve our participants. CONNECT makes every attempt possible to provide the breadth of job shadowing opportunities required to meet and exceed the needs of our participants.
CONNECT staff will work with each participant to place them in a location and with a host family that best matches the participant’s professional and personal needs and preferences. It is important that the CONNECT staff knows these needs and preferences as early in the placement process as possible to find a suitable fit.
The CONNECT staff cannot guarantee that all of the participants needs and preferences can be met, as it is dependent on the availability and characteristics of U.S. professionals and hosts who partner with CONNECT.
Once a participant is placed in a location and host home, that placement will remain in effect unless CONNECT determines a change is required.
We have each participant write an introduction of themselves, including one or two pictures of themselves. That information should be sent to your CONNECT representative. It will be formatted into CONNECT’s standard Participant Introduction document, and sent to your hosts.
1. Send us your introduction in an email or a Word document. Include a bit about yourself, your background, and your interests:
2. Include a picture like this:
3. We will review your introduction and discuss any suggested modifications. We’ll then format that into…
4. Example Participant Introduction that will be shared with your hosts:
CONNECT recruits loving host families to welcome participants in our programs. These families volunteer their time, sharing their homes and lives in the hopes of providing the best possible experience for our participants.
Host families are not compensated for their efforts, but give out of a servant’s heart, and a love for Chinese people and culture.
Upon arrival, your host family will introduce you to their home and your room, children & pets (if they have any), and any customs or habits they have that you should know about. They will be excited to get to know you more and include you in all sorts of activities, including cooking, games, etc. You will quickly find that you are treated like a member of their family – because you are!
CONNECT provides travel health insurance to each participant. Insurance is through Cigna Global Health Benefits and covers the duration of the participant’s travel.
Note that the insurance does not cover participants outside of the program’s begin and end dates.
Participants will receive an insurance card, which they should keep with them at all times. Hosts will also have a copy of this card. This card must be presented at any medical facility when a participant requires treatment so a claim may be submitted and medical expenses covered.
Here are copies of the Statement of Benefits and insurance card:
CONNECT will also provide an AT&T SIM card to each participant for use while in the U.S.
The cost for health insurance and the SIM card is included in the program price.
Host families will provide participants a bedroom with sheets and blankets, towels to use in the bathroom, meals and drinks. You can expect them to have internet, and both heating and cooling to keep you comfortable in the house. You should plan to bring:
- A good travel pillow, eye mask and ear plugs for the long flight. Maybe some reading material as well.
- Toiletries, medicine
- Cell phone, charger, and power adaptor
- Things to do in your personal time (reading, games, etc.)
- Warm clothes if going in the winter – check with your host to see what weather is like there.
- Casual clothes for evenings and weekends while not at the workplace
- Notebook, pens/pencils
- Your favorite snacks
- Spending cash
- Your health insurance card and SIM card
- Clothes appropriate for your job shadowing
- Thank you cards to give to your hosts before leaving. Some small gifts for them as well.
Language and Culture
Below are a few resources to improve your pronunciation as you prepare for the program. If there are specific areas of pronunciation you are struggling with, please contact the CONNECT staff for guidance to help you work through those.
- Rachel’s English – a favorite website with many great videos on sounds, intonation, linking, rhythm, stress, and conversation. Note: If you are unable to view her YouTube videos from your location, there is a link “YouTube blocked? Click here to see the video.” that allows you to view those videos directly from her website.
- Pronunciation Guide – focuses on several challenging sounds with practice word pairs, tongue twisters and dialogs.
Here are a few great references for learning idioms, expressions, and other aspects of English that can help you in improving your oral English skills.
Here are a few fun videos sharing a Chinese perspective of American customs and food, along with some other valuable perspectives on cultural similarities and differences.
Still Have Questions?
Frequently Asked Questions
Check out our list of Frequently Asked Questions for commonly asked questions and answers.
Please contact us with any additional questions or inquiries you have. We look forward to talking with you!