Sports Visitor Program brings international students to Asheville

Press release from the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission:

As part of the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division programs, 15 participants from Albania, Belgium, and Guatemala will spend June 30 through July 14, 2018, in Asheville examining English as a Second Language through soccer. Xplore USA will host the group for their annual ESL summer camp. Managed by FHI 360, Sports Visitors are non-elite youth athletes, coaches, and administrators who travel to the United States for a fast-paced short-term sports cultural exchange with American peers and sports practitioners. During the program, they participate in clinics and sessions on leadership, team-building and conflict resolution, as well as on America’s experience with inclusion and equity in sport.

The Sports Visitor Program creates a network of leaders around the world who have firsthand experience and understanding of U.S. culture, society, and values, through exploring America’s athletic landscape -from community based programs to professional sports. Sports Visitors take part in capacity building, leadership, and sports-based programs that help shape their future educational and employment goals and aspirations.  Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Sports Visitor Program connects participants to their peers in the United States and creates important opportunities for Americans to engage with individuals from other countries, thereby deepening trust and understanding between the United States and other countries and cultures.

The Sports Visitor participants from Albania, Belgium, and Guatemala are joined by FHI 360 staff for the entirety of their visit and together with U.S. Department of State personnel, ensure the program is adapted to U.S. foreign policy goals and participant interests.

While in Asheville, the participants will participate in workshops on Sports and Society in the U.S., Civic Engagement, English as a Second Language, and Leadership; collaborate with the local University soccer team; engage in team building activities; and attend soccer practice with the Asheville School. This program is an ideal opportunity to use a non-political force to bring young athletes together with other athletes from around the world. They will learn that they have more in common than they could have imagined. They will build networks and friendships that will last beyond the project’s completion. They will learn about teamwork, improve their English language competency, enhance their soccer skills, and learn how to use the tools they gain in the United States to be leaders in their communities.

Through home stays, Sports Visitor participants will experience American family life.  Additionally, they will take part in several cultural and community activities, including volunteering at Special Olympics North Carolina, going white water rafting, attending 4th of July celebrations, and attending a local baseball game.

The Sports Visitor Program has brought more than 2,000 current and future leaders from all over the world to the United States. Participants have come from every world region and more than 100 different countries and growing.

For more information, please contact Monika Wilcox at or visit our website at  Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @Exchanges360.

For U.S. Department of State press inquiries, contact  To learn more about State Department sports diplomacy, follow us on Twitter (@SportsDiplomacy) and Facebook (@SportsDiplomacyDivision).

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