In this post, my State Department colleague Stacey Gomelsky describes her recent experience volunteering with J-1 Au Pairs in Washington, D.C. (Photo credits to Yupa Khin Nyunt.)
“We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill
More and more, J-1 participants are involved in volunteer activities while on their U.S. programs. That certainly is true for J-1 au pairs. Recently, we joined nearly 200 J-1 au pairs, their au pair sponsor representatives, and staff from the Renaissance Washington D.C. Downtown Hotel to package meals to be sent to children in need around the world. This unique volunteer event was organized through a partnership between a designated au pair sponsor and the organization Stop Hunger Now.
Upon arriving at the Renaissance, everyone donned hair nets and plastic gloves and got to work packing meals, re-stocking ingredients, running bags to the weighing tables, weighing and sealing the bags, and counting and boxing the meals for delivery.
Together, we packaged 20,088 meals that day. Wow. By volunteering their time on a Saturday morning, au pair exchange visitors helped children in need and made new friends with their fellow participants. They also experienced a fundamental cultural tradition that has long formed the core of the American character – a belief that citizens must share a commitment to the greater good.
As we finished packaging the last few meals, we couldn’t help but notice smiles on faces all around the room. Smiles that bespoke the lasting satisfaction that comes from doing something so real, and so helpful. Au pairs spend their days helping the children they care for while on their programs. Yet, for many au pairs in the room, this was their first time volunteering for a global cause. As we worked alongside Deborah, an au pair from Italy, she exclaimed: “It’s amazing how so little can do so much to help people and make our world a little better.” Jennifer, an au pair from Colombia, agreed: “This is an amazing activity to stop hunger for children in need. In one word, it’s awesome!”
|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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