Today was my day off from work so Jill (the market and gift manager here at Grants Grove) had decided to go see the movie about Elton John called Rocket Man in Clovis. In the mean time we had two new J1 young men who had arrived to work here from Turkey……Shim and Demur. Nmet who is also from Turkey had already arrived and has been working in the lodge for a couple of weeks. They are between the ages of 18 and 21 and are living in one of the cabins where I had first lived when I got here. They also have no transportation to get around, so we took them with us to town so see the movie, go grocery shopping and had dinner.
Rocket Man was a great movie……anyone who grew up listening to Elton John music through the 70’s, and 80’s will appreciate this movie. Elton John was an amazing, talented musician and singer, he was very eccentric and flamboyant, but when you see this movie and grasp an understanding of his childhood, the craziness of being a star and those who took advantage of his weaknesses and his fame brings the music he sang to a whole different level of understanding about music and his life. So if you get a chance to see it, you should. I do not think you will be disappointed.
So what is a J1 and why are they here? In essence the J1 is the J1 Summer Work and Travel (J1 SWT) visa which allows 3rd level full time students completing degree level courses work in the USA for 4 months between the May 15th and September 15th. Participants can opt to travel for a further month (up to the October 15th) depending on the reopening date of their college and SEVIS compliance. The J1 SWT is also a cultural visa and all participants are required to undertake as many cultural activities as possible during the summer. J1s are hired to work in many of our National Parks to help fill the staffing needs over the busy summer/tourist season.
As I mentioned Nmnet, Shim and Demur are all from Turkey and attend the University in Istanbul and are majoring in Engineering. Nmnet and Shim are pretty quiet and they do not speak English well. Demur is 21, speaks English very well, is very social, very educated and knowledgeable. It was very interesting to talk with him as we went about our day and the differences in our cultures. Shopping was overwhelming for them and us…..so many choices of foods and the fact that in Turkey they do not have much processed food, they don’t have the big shopping centers and grocery stores as we do, they have small markets everywhere. Most people in Turkey do not have cars as they are very expensive…..Demur said most girls won’t date you if you do not have a car, because having a car means you have wealth. He lives in a high rise flat, they have mass transportation…..bus, train, etc he said. After two hours of shopping we were exhausted but we all wanted to relax and get a bite to eat before heading back to Kings Canyon so we opted for Applebees where we could sit down and where a variety of food options were available. Demur really liked the place, thought it was very nice. Nmnet and Shim ended up not eating….they do not eat Pork and so there was a discussion with the waitress whether various foods were all cooked on the same grill, which they were so they choose not to eat as they were concerned that whatever they ordered would have come in contact with Pork. Demur chose to try a hamburger which he liked……he had a very candid discussion with Nmnet and Shim about trying new foods. After making the hour and a half drive we finally arrived home at 10:30 PM. I quickly put away the few groceries I had and went to bed. It was a fun day.