By Tebogo Serepong, Trainee from South Africa
When I left South Africa to begin my cultural exchange program in the United States, not only did I get a new physical address, I figuratively also acquired an address which has endearingly placed me outside of my comfort zone. I have made new friends and colleagues and linked up with some old ones, all while discovering and becoming a distinct version of myself. Personal growth has been coupled with tremendous professional development as my career as a Chartered Accountant keeps evolving and being constructively challenged through experience first obtained in California and now Washington, D.C.
My time living in the States has also been filled with truly remarkable life changing opportunities. One of which was awarded by my sponsor, J-1 Visa Exchange, who nominated me to attend the Global Pathfinder Summit (GPS). A five-day summit for leadership development and global networking, designed to equip its delegates with the strategies, perspectives, and tools necessary to create sustainable change in their local and global communities through vital topics like the impact of youth movements on global challenges, civic engagement, and the state of global democracy in modern day society.
The GPS created a platform that enabled me to actively engage with 150 emerging leaders, from various industry backgrounds and from over 50 different countries; it expanded my view of the world while connecting me to it. All the delegates and presenters had inimitable stories to share from the experiences attained in the paths that they had traveled, which I have learnt from and will cherishingly take with me as I continue my journey.
Both the Exchange Visitor Program along with the GPS have made me a more robust Global Citizen, they have expanded my network and helped me build a home away from home, not just in the United States, but also in places around the world that I have never travelled to through all the phenomenal people that I have met. Countries and flags I had previously only seen on maps, television or in news headlines have become familiar places where great friends, who I have shared the most joyful memories with, live.
|About Rebecca Pasini
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange
Rebecca A. Pasini joined the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchanges in July 2023. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister - Counselor, Ms. Pasini has been an American diplomat since 1997.
Ms. Pasini previously served as the Director of Public and Congressional Affairs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs from 2021-2023. Other Washington assignments have included positions in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, the Office of Foreign Missions, and as a liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. She has also completed multiple overseas tours, including as Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs in Islamabad, Pakistan, and as the Consular Chief in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Other tours included Mexico City and Kuwait.
A Maryland native, Ms. Pasini has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University, a master’s degree in National Security and Resource Strategy from the Eisenhower School, National Defense University, and an undergraduate degree from Mary Washington College.
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