Exchange Visitors Embrace the Spirit of Volunteerism at TCS New York City Marathon

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J-1 program participants hand out refreshments and cheer-on marathon runners. (State Department photo)
J-1 program participants hand out refreshments and cheer-on marathon runners at the 2017 race. (State Department photo)

Exchange Visitors Embrace the Spirit of Volunteerism at TCS New York City Marathon

On Sunday, November 4, more than 1,400 students, au pairs, and interns in the  Exchange Visitor Program will volunteer at the TCS New York City Marathon, making them the largest and most diverse group of volunteers at the marathon for the fourth year in a row. Together, they make up more than 14 percent of the race’s total volunteers. The TCS New York City Marathon is the biggest one-day sporting event in the world, attracting over 50,000 runners from more than 135 countries from around the world.

The Exchange Visitor Program is an initiative led by the State Department that gives people from around the world an opportunity to visit the United States to study, teach, conduct research, share specialized skills, and receive on-the-job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.   During these exchanges, participants strengthen their English language skills, connect with Americans, and learn more about the United States. These experiences not only form strong bonds between the exchange participants and the Americans they meet, but also creates mutual understanding and cultural awareness in communities across the country and around the world. International participants make significant contributions to communities across the United States as they volunteer in local organizations, reinforcing the bonds that make America strong.

The Exchange Visitor Program volunteer presence at the marathon highlights the benefits that American citizens receive from State Department programs. The exchange participants will stand alongside U.S. volunteers at miles 5 and 6 in Brooklyn and mile 18 in Harlem providing water and encouragement to the runners.

Every year, runners are grateful for the refreshments, but it’s seeing a piece of home, whether it be their flag or cheers in their local language that gives them the strength to finish the race. It’s these moments where the volunteers experience firsthand the American values of volunteerism and civic engagement.

See Exchange Visitor Program Participants in Action

About the Author: Lynette Evans-Tiernan serves in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.

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