Breaking barriers in Baltimore: David Badejo’s J-1 Experience

Taking a selfie in the Shenandoah mountains.

David Badejo began his visa journey in January of 2023 with a bit of a rocky start. He shared with us that initially there was a misconception about the timeline, but with the support of individuals like Jude and Nora at the Rian Immigrant Center, he was able to successfully secure his visa by February. It was a remarkably quick turnaround time!

When he initially applied to participate in the visa, his goals for work included efficient operation in a well-established business, increasing knowledge in physiotherapy, effective communication, and exploration of diverse cultures in Baltimore. Day-to-day life involved a balance of work and activities, including gym sessions, hiking in the Shenandoah Mountains, sports leagues for both bowling and soccer, and exploring Baltimore’s attractions.

David found that the internship at Elite Physical Therapy Baltimore emphasized discipline, respect for rules, and professionalism. He worked as a technician, learning how to guide clients through exercises in various therapies, and conduct competency exams. Challenges included juggling multiple priorities and supporting complex evaluations.

One of the most pointed experiences he noted was hosting a Rock Steady boxing class for Parkinson’s patients. This helped him learn more about ways to assist people with limited cognitive and physical abilities, and how he might implement exercise to help combat the effects of Parkinson’s.

David appreciated the cultural diversity in the US, specifically in the Baltimore area. Throughout his time there, he was exposed to people of all walks of life, different capabilities, and linguistic backgrounds. He thoroughly believes that the mentorship he received at Elite PT Baltimore created a welcoming and open environment for everyone who walked through their doors. He noted that his supervisor, Caroline, once told him “It’s one thing to say all cultures, beliefs, and communities are welcomed but a complete other thing to say that and have it represented by your staff and patients.”

David found the support from Rian, particularly Jude, to be exceptional. He added that with the assistance he received, he felt far more prepared for his appointments and ready to tackle work upon his arrival to the US. David’s favorite part of the experience was connecting with the people of Baltimore and engaging in some unique activities, including dressing up as a pirate for a cruise with work colleagues.

Upon returning to Ireland, David plans to apply the skills learned, including communication, punctuality, and cultural awareness, to his studies. His experience was described as transformative, providing valuable insights into the professional workplace. As for his advice for future J-1 participants, he emphasized the need to embrace the rollercoaster of emotions and the challenges that come with it, adding that he would “110 percent recommend to anyone who feels like they are looking for more than what they’re used to.”