Italian Cultural Exchange Program

The Program


As part of our Italian Cultural Exchange Program with Clara & Ray’s Ristorante Italiano, you will have a wonderful opportunity to learn and work in a family Italian restaurant located in beautiful Lexington, South Carolina, USA.

As an ITALIAN CULTURAL AMBASSADOR, you will interact with our restaurant guests, and let them experience the warmth of the Italian people and their long history.

You will live and work in the United States for up to 15 months on a special Q-1 Visa. This special visa was designed specially for this type of cultural exchange program.

You will have the amazing and rewarding opportunity to share your country’s heritage and long history with the customers you interact with, creating lifelong memories for you both.

You will work alongside us in our family Italian restaurant, waiting tables, cooking food, taking care of guests, sharing your cultural experiences, and showing them Italian warmth and hospitality.


Clara & Ray’s Ristorante Italiano is a family owned and family friendly restaurant. It is upscale, yet casual. The dining room area is new and spacious and includes a bar serving beer & wine.

ITALIAN CULTURAL AMBASSADORS will have the opportunity to work directly with the customers, serving Italian cuisine, providing excellent customer service delivered with the warmth and friendliness for which the Italian people are known. 

You will also have the opportunity to work and prepare food in our open-layout kitchen, featuring deck ovens, induction burners, convection oven, deep fryer, and more. You will work in full view of the customers, interacting with them, speaking English, and sharing your love of the Italian culinary traditions.


You will be living in a modern, spacious, and fully furnished 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom apartment that you will share with 4 other Italian people who are members of our cultural exchange program. The apartment complex is nearby the restaurant…an easy walk. Also nearby are many retail shops, food stores, restaurants, banks, etc.

Amenities of the apartment complex include a large pool, resort-style sundeck, workout room, and much more. Amenities of your apartment include a washer & dryer, dishwasher, flat screen TV, internet, full kitchen (well equipped), and all furnishings.

All costs of living here are part of your weekly rent, which its deducted from your weekly paycheck. You will only need to purchase your own food and personal items.


Through our regular weekend workshops, you will have the chance to learn and develop your professional skills in areas such as…

  • Restaurant Basics
  • Order Taking
  • Food Safety
  • Wine Tasting



Sunny South Carolina is a state that knows how to have fun! From the best ocean beaches on the eastern US to hiking, horseback riding, and much, much more, South Carolina has it all.

The participants in the program will be provided with transportation to a regional recreation attraction once per month on weekends.



In order to participate in this amazing program, you must meet the following criteria. You must:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Have an Italian passport valid for at least two years.
  3. Be fluent in English.
  4. Be available to stay in the United States for 15 months.
  5. Be able to purchase round-trip airline tickets for travel to the US for this program.

CLARA & RAY’S – A Family Story

– as told by John Immerso, co-owner of Clara & Ray’s

The story of Clara & Ray’s Ristorante Italiano is truly a family story. Our restaurant was named in honor of my parents, Clara and Raymond.

They had great pride in being Italian. Clara’s mother comes from Paduli, and her father comes from Ferrazzano. Ray’s family comes from Capaccio. They kept in contact with their families in Italy, and they made sure that connection remained strong. All my childhood memories are of family events and holidays. There was always lots of delicious food and the special warmth of a big family.

Clara was an amazing cook who shared her love of cooking with all of us. She taught my three sisters and I the important connection between family and food. Her special marinara sauce is made and enjoyed here every day.

Ray was a good-hearted, hard-working man who shared Clara’s love of family. He taught us that we were here to help each other, to live a life of service, and to care for others.

Clara and Ray were happy together. They were friendly and generous, and there was always enough food to go around for everyone at their table…no matter how many people were there. Family was everything to them, and friends were part of the family.

We enjoy sharing our family heritage with our customers. We hope that you enjoy your time with us here at Clara & Ray’s Ristorante Italiano!

Experience Lexington

Experience South Carolina

Contact Us

(803) 951-0051


New Hours of Operation

Monday - Thursday - 4:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday - 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saturday - 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Sunday from 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm.  

Palmetto Plaza
5140 Sunset Blvd, Suites E & F
Lexington, SC.