By Christian Caudill
For the fifth year in a row, the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) comprised the largest group of volunteers for the TCS New York City Marathon. More than 1,600 volunteers provided runners with water, Gatorade, and encouragement at miles 5 and 6 in Brooklyn and miles 18, 19, and 23 in Manhattan.
EVP brings more than 300,000 participants to the United States each year to teach, study, or receive on-the-job training while strengthening their English language skills and experiencing American society, culture, and values.
“The NYC Marathon is an opportunity to expose EVP participants to volunteerism, a hallmark of American civic life,” said Lynette Evans-Tiernan, director of public affairs for the EVP. “This experience gives them the opportunity to give back to their host communities and sparks a renewed commitment to return home and create positive change.”
Since its inception in 2015, the tradition of bringing the EVP community together to volunteer at marathons has spread across the country. In addition to New York City, EVP participants have volunteered at marathons in Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Nashville, Tenn. This year, EVP participants also volunteered at the marathon in Richmond, Va. and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
“Volunteering at the marathon was such a beautiful experience because I saw people from all over the world with different cultures, religion[s], and social status being part of the same thing. There were no differences, it was humanity,” said Martina Menti, an EVP participant from Italy. “I saw different people on the same level. Everyone helps each other and it was so beautiful. This is a marathon but all of the participants win, including the volunteers.”
Christian Caudill is a staff assistant in the Office of Private Sector Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.