Importance of Cultural Activities

Background

I recently wrote about the Department of State’s new Form DS-7002 01-2013. The new form includes several additions, among them a question about planned participation in cultural activities. So what is the importance of participation in cultural activities?

Importance of cultural activities

Remember the overall goal of the Department of State’s J program? The purpose is to “provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences”. Exchange visitors participate in a wide range of programs, such as student, scholar, teacher, intern or trainee. While those program all have specific primary objectives, the overriding goal is to increase participants’ understanding of American culture/society and to enhance Americans’ knowledge of foreign cultures. It is the interaction and sharing of cultural knowledge that the Department of State is looking for. Educational and cultural exchanges ultimately assist the Department of State in furthering U.S. foreign policy objectives.

Without a strong cultural component, the Department of State will not be able to meet the objective of the J-1 program. The Department of State has always focused on the cultural component of the program, but it now requires sponsors and host organizations to address the issue on the new form DS-7002. Ultimately,  host organizations and program sponsors are responsible for developing a strong cultural component of their programs.

2 Responses to “Importance of Cultural Activities

  • Francesca
    4 years ago

    This is a great reminder Mario. It would be great if every student exchange organization reserved an amount of the program fees for a quarterly cultural exchange activity with the students. When I placed year long high school students, we received a stipend to do this. Usually with Work & Travel students they will arrange a trip on their own. But some employers and myself organize an “excursion” day with the students. But it would certainly show a strong commitment on the part of the student exchange organization if they provided a stipend and required documentation of these activities every 3 months.

    • Agreed. There are several ways that sponsors can better expose participants to U.S. culture. I will write a follow up blog post to share ideas for strengthening the cultural component of a J program.