Through Route J-1, we have spotlighted many local community groups and homegrown efforts to embrace the diversity student visitors bring. As we showed in Ocean City, Maryland and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, local community support enriches students’ understanding of American culture, and makes a lasting impact in the lives of those exchange visitors. In this post, my colleague, Michael James, shares his experience during a recent visit to the Virginia Beach Community Chapel’s “J-1 Café”.
|J-1 students line up for a delicious dinner
donated and served by the local community.
Every Tuesday night during the summer, the Virginia Beach Community Chapel gymnasium looks like this! Some 400 students from countries around the world come together for food and fun, all done through the efforts of the Virginia Beach community, and J-1 designated sponsor organizations. This tradition began as an informal backyard barbecue event six years ago, and slowly grew. The J-1 Café doesn’t just serve up a delicious meal for 400 people, organizers put together cultural event opportunities, as well. I just heard about a trip to Washington, DC the Café put together!
I could see that J-1 Café and the organizers behind it play a significant role in welcoming the students to the community and making them feel connected and appreciated.
J-1 Cafe also gives students a chance to meet each other. Long after dinner was over, students remained to continue talking with new friends and community volunteers. I smiled when I watched some J-1 students playing “Corn Hole.” Cultural exposure comes in so many forms! Thanks, Virginia Beach!
|About G. Kevin Saba|
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange
G. Kevin Saba serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.Read More
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