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International Students and the Jewel of the Susquehanna

Posted on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 at 7:11 pm.


In this post, my colleague, Nicole Deaner, shares her experience after attending a cultural program in Pennsylvania over the weekend where many J1 participants visit and work.

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – a gem of a city nestled on the banks of the Susquehanna River and host to hundreds of international exchange students.  Harrisburg has a long and vibrant history of settlement and has served as a center of commerce and transportation. For centuries, it has welcomed people from many different origins and that still holds true today.

I met with international students from China, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Colombia who are experiencing the United States for the first time at various locations throughout the greater Harrisburg area, including the world-famous Hershey Park.  Many of them are staying in the International House in downtown Harrisburg, which allows them to get a flavor for this beautiful city and its people. Working at Hershey Park also gives the students an opportunity to gain customer service skills and interact with Americans from across the United States.


On Sunday night, the students gathered together at Strawberry Square – a mall in the heart of downtown Harrisburg – to participate in volunteer activities in order to give back to the Harrisburg community.  They created get well cards for hospitalized children as part of the “Caitlin’s Smiles” project.  The students also collaborated on a cross-cultural piece of art called the “Peace Wall”, which is a meld of symbols representing their various home countries. It will be displayed at various locations throughout Harrisburg.  They also brought in items that symbolize their culture to display at the mall – they do this regularly at the International House so that students have the opportunity to learn about different cultures.

The whole experience is really about sharing.  The citizens of Harrisburg share their beautiful city when welcoming these international students, while the students share their culture with the citizens of Harrisburg and give back to the community by volunteering.  This is really the true spirit of international exchange.

Categories: Employers, Participants

About Rebecca Pasini

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange

Rebecca Pasini

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.