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.
|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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