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From Exchange Student to Agency Owner

Kiki Cheung, from Hong Kong, had a unique experience with CHI’s Internship Training program.  In 2014, she began an 18-month stay as an intern at CHI itself, training at CHI’s California headquarters as an Operations Assistant. She helped out on various programs, including the Internship Training program.

Then after a memorable experience, Kiki returned home to Hong Kong, and with the skills she honed during her internship at CHI, she set up her own exchange student agency: Go Abroad USA Cultural Network.  Kiki’s agency promotes exchange student programs such as Work & Travel, Internship and Short Term Enrichment Programs in the Asian market: Hong Kong, China, Macau and Taiwan.

Her new agency even partners with CHI in her territories.  Talk about going full circle!  Interning at CHI inspired her to start her own exchange organization, where she now helps inspire other young people to realize their own potential.  Kiki is a proud entrepreneur and self-employed businesswoman whose goal is to help young people fulfill their American dreams.

Kiki completely attributes her current success to her J1 program: her internship changed her life.  She grew and changed so much in those 18 months.  Kiki explains:

“If I [had] not participated in this 18-month J1 program, I would NOT be able to do the things I’m doing now. I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur and open my own business in Hong Kong!  This program totally changed my life direction.  Before the program, I only thought that I need to be a good worker and hopefully get promoted in a company, just like what other normal people think of their career path.  But guess what?  After I came to CHI to learn, I met many different people who have many cool life stories that opened my eyes, that inspired me: “Everything is possible in life!”  I realized that there are so many options for my life.   I think it is the essence of this program, because you are put in an environment that is so different from what it is in your home country – you will meet so many different people, you will enjoy a very different lifestyle, and so you will have a new mindset.”

Kiki has some tips for anyone thinking of joining an exchange program:

  1. Adjust your Expectations: Your view of the U.S. is probably what you have seen on TV and in the movies. It is a big country though and it’s not all big cities. It has a diverse culture and environment.
  2. Get out of your Comfort Zone: Be mentally ready for anything. Meet new people and get to know their culture and stories. Try new things, even things that scare you. This will make your exchange program more valuable.
  3. Be Ready for Challenges: You are going to have some culture shock and adjustment. Your program might not always be smooth.  Try to embrace things that are different from your life back home.  Any challenge you face will help you grow as a person and help you mature.
  4. Have Goals: Set your goals at the beginning of your program. Time will go fast.  Before your program ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to be after this program?”  If you want to improve your English, take a class.  Think about your future and take steps to learn as much as you can.

Kiki knows that participating in a J1 visa program empowered her to have big dreams and start her own business.  She feels that Asian culture still does not encourage girls enough to be adventurous and go abroad.  But she’s proud of being willing to break the mold, and loves that she can now serve as an example to other girls and show them that they can do something like this.  Kiki is proof that you can try new things and come back a stronger person.

Check out Kiki’s blog of her adventures in the U.S.: https://beaninmi.wordpress.com/

Visit her agency page: https://www.facebook.com/GoAbroadUSA/

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