Culture Exchange is a Key Part of the J-1 Program! 


Jack Doyle Taylor and Ella Maguire are a couple who met on the first day at University of Limerick in 2019! The University of Limerick students, respectively from Galway and Cork are currently in Grand Rapids, Michigan on 8 month J-1 visa programs, sponsored by Rian Immigrant Center. They have started to “settle in well” and described Grand Rapids, MI, as “gorgeous, with lots of different restaurants and craft shops.” Ella made sure to mention there is no lack in shopping and malls, to which Jack added “they had spent the last 3 Saturdays at different malls” 

Beyond the malls, they are taking advantage of all the opportunities they can come by to engage in Cultural Exchange, an incredibly important part of the visa program, during their J-1 program. Both in their internships, and in their free time, they are jumping in with two feet to all the U.S. has to offer them. Even just a month into their time in the states, they have seen and done so much; in this next week alone they are going to the symphony to see Symphony with Soul, featuring Leslie Odom Jr., known most famously from his performance in Hamilton, and a Chicago Bulls game just a few nights later. 

Their internships at Trumble Insurance Agency and Treadstone Funding have also provided them with great professional and personal experiences. When not working on his historical analysis on clients’ data, Jack has a gym in the basement of his office and has spent time getting to workout and bond with colleagues there. Ella’s work has offered her yoga and dance classes, and she spent time with her whole team at a paint night. 

They have already integrated in their community, both joining an indoor soccer team with some people from Ella’s work. They look forward to having the chance to participate in this fun extracurricular. Jack has also joined the Grand Rapid Gazelles, a local Rugby team. Aside from

Rugby, Jack and Ella have lots of reminders from home, as they share people often approach them to share about their distant or close relatives who live in Ireland, even though they often “mispronounce the county or town names” they shared. One piece of home they really miss, an Irish Breakfast… Jack and Ella both shared they are dreaming of having one. 

Ella shared she is most looking forward to traveling during the rest of their visa program. Ella and Jack (already!) have 4 trips planned for their time in the states. They plan to go to Florida, New York City, Boston and hopefully Washington D.C. Jack shared he hoped he could see Hamilton in NYC, when they are there for Ella’s birthday in April! 

After their program ends in August, they will return to University of Limerick to finish their final year of University. They are eager to take their increased confidence, cultural learnings and professional experiences back to their programs. Here's to seeing all they will do in the rest of their time in the states, we are sure it will be full of many adventures.