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J-1 Students Rock!

Posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 5:17 pm.


Students getting ready for their community service activity

In this post, my colleague, Deb Shetler, shares her experience during her recent trip to South Dakota.

Last week, my colleague Yupa and I had the pleasure of getting to know sixteen J-1 international students placed at South Dakota’s Custer State Park Resort as they participated in a community service activity. These energetic students spent a day supporting the state park in its effort to build a new amphitheater.

Following a short presentation by the park ranger, the students spent several hours carrying rocks and stones away in heavy buckets – it was hard work and very different than the work volunteers normally do every day! Happily, our labor was rewarded with a traditional cookout of hamburgers, hot dogs, and all the fixings. The students had a great time that day and are enjoying their experiences this summer at the resort. They told me they have made friends from around the world as well as made friends with other J-1 students and guests at the lodges where they work. Harold, one of the local resort employees, says he enjoys working with J-1 students and that the park is lucky to have such dedicated students working there.

Sun block and bug spray are a must when working outdoors.

Sun block and bug spray are a must when working outdoors.

These students’ sponsor – the organization that they work with to come on the program – has made volunteerism a central aspect of their program. After their summer in the United States, the participants who volunteer at least twenty hours during the summer are eligible to apply for grants from their sponsor to help fund community service projects in their home communities. Several students said they are already thinking about the kind of community service activity they want to do when they return home.

At the end of the day, the students were exhausted, but all left the park with smiles on their faces knowing they played an important role in helping to improve one of the most beautiful state parks in South Dakota.

Students enjoying a traditional cookout after a day of hard work.

Students enjoying a traditional cookout after a day of hard work.

Categories: Employers, J-1 Visa, 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.