Recently, my colleagues Ethan Bursofsky and Julia Saltzman joined more than 200 J-1 lifeguards, their sponsor, and host employer representatives at a Washington Nationals game to experience a great American pastime: baseball.
Baseball is deeply rooted in U.S. culture, and has a unique place in American history. For many D.C. residents, a summer Nat’s game is a season staple. Yet for the J-1 participants that attended the Washington Nationals game against the New York Mets on a recent summer evening, almost everything about the game was new.
Peter, a lifeguard from Bulgaria said he had never seen a stadium as big as Nationals Park. “The fans here are very different from soccer fans,” Peter said with a laugh. This was his first time watching a baseball game, and while the game was new to him, he was thrilled to be at a major league sports event. Throughout his J-1 experience, which is also his first time away from home, Peter said he hopes to experience as much of the U.S. as he can – and a baseball game certainly added to his experience. Peter said he has enjoyed learning about American culture this summer, and he is looking forward to traveling to New York City and Boston with friends later this year.
Meanwhile, some participants had more familiarity with the game. Christian, a lifeguard from Romania, said that he knows the rules of baseball because he played baseball video games back home. Having virtually pitched and batted, Christian was now seeing professional American athletes bring the game to life. He said it has been a dream of his to watch a baseball game at a major league stadium in person, and he was eager to share his excitement with his fellow exchange students, his sponsor, and host employers.
As we know from our State Department Sports Diplomacy exchange programs, sports connect people of all ages and cultures in a way few other experiences can – and that was apparent as the J-1 participants experienced one of America’s greatest sports traditions.
|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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