Cultural managements

Lithuanian girl in her twenties takes part in a cultural exchange program involving the sale of books

Renato Jurado went door to door in Edwardsville and Highland in June and July, working as a sales representative for Southwestern Advantage. You may have seen his photo posted on Facebook by police departments in both cities, telling residents not to call the police for him because he obtained valid attorney’s licenses to sell door-to-door.

Jurado, 22, is from the Republic of Lithuania, a small country of nearly three million people on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania shares borders with Poland, Latvia and Belarus.

“I am a student doing my summer internship program here with Southwestern Advantage,” he wrote in a July 11 post.

He does not represent any of the schools and is in no way affiliated with them.

“It’s my summer internship and it’s how I pay for college. I sell study guides that help parents help kids with new math and other subjects; programs that save time for homework and test preparation; a quick start program for kindergartners that provides a head start for early development and school readiness; and ACT and SAT prep by Princeton Review.”

This is Jurado’s third year on the program, but his first time in the United States as COVID-19 thwarted his two previous attempts to visit. He said a year ago he was doing the same program but in the UK.

“We were lucky and adapted to the UK system. It wasn’t meant to be, but we found a way to do it there,” he said.

Ultimately, Jurado said he wanted to own his own business and invest, using the skills he learned in this program – problem solving, goal setting, time management and more to help his own business in the future.

“So I can have a [debt]-a free future,” he said. “What I get from here is all the experience and communication skills. I meet a lot of people every day and everyone is different, from different backgrounds. You learn to adapt to different situations. I have lots of plans.”

He said student representatives must be quick thinkers and able to solve obstacles on their own. They can be advised remotely via a telephone message or an SMS, but no boss will appear in person to take over in the event of a problem.

He hasn’t decided where he will go for his August sales, but one possibility could be Mascoutah. He was staying in a hotel but now he has a host family he is staying with. His last day on the job is August 27, and then he and the nine other students on his team will travel to Miami, Florida for a mini-vacation before heading home. In total, there are 1,500 students, including 500 Europeans.

He bought a used Mercedes-Benz sedan to drive in the summer and will sell it before leaving the country. When it comes to his favorite things here, it’s the people and the culture.

“So far they are different. They are much more expressive,” he said. “Back home, we are more serious, people don’t smile too much. Here, everyone is more fun, they are more relaxed and relaxed.

Jurado said homesickness wasn’t really a factor for him as he said he was used to being away. “I think more at the end of the summer I will feel that but now these three months that I have here are a new world for me. I forget everything that is happening at home.”

Something new that he was unaware of is that not all churches in the United States have the same traditional look and from his description it appears that he visited Vale United Methodist Church in Bloomington.

“I was in a church when I first came and it was super new,” he said. “It didn’t even look like a church, it looked like a mall. Inside, instead of being all Catholic like we’re used to, they sang songs, they did a lecture later , but it was so different from what we have.” He mentioned that there was also a cafe and a nursery for children.

He also experienced his first 4th of July here even though he was working that day. He added that Lithuania also had an Independence Day, but it featured ceremonies and soldiers, not fireworks and parties.

His only free time is Sundays, so he hasn’t had much time to do anything touristy except to visit downtown Chicago, St. Louis, and Springfield. He said the population of the Chicago metropolitan area is almost four times the population of Lithuania.

Trey Campbell, Director of Communications for Southwest Advantage, spoke about the program Renato is part of. The company is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.

He said the company started in 1855 as a mail-order business selling primarily Bibles. In 1868, the company expanded into what became its Entrepreneurship Program for college and university students, where they learn transferable skills in business, sales, life and leadership. More than 200,000 students have participated in the program since the reconstruction and from more than 1,600 campuses.

Today, students carry all their sales kit with them in branded backpacks, and if they have a vehicle, they receive exterior door magnets with company signage to use while traveling. He said sales earn students college credits, and while selling items door-to-door might look like something from 100 years ago, Campbell says there are benefits that do not occur during virtual transactions.

“They got apart, going door to door,” he said. Also, getting out of students’ comfort zones and improving their communication skills would be much harder to do virtually. In person, they can show parents examples of products in their kits that parents can touch, hold and examine instead of just looking at them on a screen.

“This program also allows international students to practice their English skills, learn slang and immerse themselves in the culture,” Campbell said. “We love the international students who are part of the program. They bring color to the program; they are hardworking, productive and they know English very well.”

“This opportunity overall is once in a lifetime and I’m very grateful to be here because I’ve waited three years to get here,” Jurado said. “And I keep finding the best places to sell, like Edwardsville and Highland.”

For more details on products sold by Jurado, potential customers can contact him through his Facebook page: or they can call Southwestern Advantage at 1-888-551-5901 for more information. .