Take Me Out to the Ballgame: J-1 Participants Experience America’s Pastime at Nationals ParkPosted on Monday, August 31st, 2015 at 4:30 pm.
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.
Categories: J-1 Visa, Participants, Program Spotlight
|About Karen Ward|
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange
Karen Ward has been with the Department of State and the Exchange Visitor Program for over thirty years. Karen joined Private Sector Exchange as the Director of the Office of Private Sector Exchange Designation in December 2014. She previously had worked on all aspects of the Exchange Visitor Program, including program analyst for the secondary school student, teacher, post-secondary student, research scholar, trainee and intern categories and served as the Division Chief of the Private Sector Programs Division for three years. She spent three years as a Policy Analyst and a Senior Compliance Office within the Office of Exchange Coordination and Compliance. She has extensive knowledge on program management, the regulatory process, form development, and SEVIS administration.
Karen, a native of Maryland, is a career federal civil servant with more than 30 years of service, working mostly in the areas of international exchanges and operation management. She enjoys mentoring and volunteering in her community.
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