Cultural Exchange

Au Pairs Learn the Cultural Importance of Sports

2021 was a great year for sports! This summer, we’ve seen football (or “soccer” 😂 ) tournaments in Europe and Latin America, and now the Olympics! After a difficult 2020, athletes are returning to fields around the world. Of course, sports entertain and promote exercise. They also facilitate something about which we’re passionate: cultural exchange. Au pairs have found that sporting events in the USA allow them to make new friends, learn about U.S. culture, and share parts of their own culture. Read on to learn about the cultural importance of sports!

Rocio with her American soccer team. Image courtesy of Rocio.

While Calvin and Rocio spread their love of soccer to Americans, a few au pairs have found their appreciation for baseball. Taís, a Brazilian living with a Maryland host family, recently saw a game between two local teams. Even though it wasn’t a big game, Taís loved it. “I’m still trying to understand the whole thing,” she admits. “But I’ll get there!” 

Taís loves learning about baseball! Image courtesy of Taís.

Au pair Lara, from South Africa, saw a slightly more famous baseball team play. Okay, she saw the world’s most famous team: the New York Yankees. Lara, currently living in the neighboring state of New Jersey, traveled to Yankee Stadium in New York. Although her favorite player (Derek Jeter) retired from the game years ago, Lara had a great time. “It was such an amazing experience,” she says. “I would definitely recommend a baseball game to every other au pair out there!” 

Lara at Yankee Stadium. Image courtesy of Lara.

Another particularly interesting sport to many J-1 Exchange Visitors is American football, which – seen in person – can be a rowdy and thrilling experience! Don’t know how to play? No worries! Check out this explanation of American football, along with a guide to its biggest game, written by a former J-1 participant!

Sure, sports bring people together and help teach about culture. But they’re also much more important than that! The Council of Europe has observed that “sports can reduce racism and be an important tool of diplomacy.” Similarly, the United Nations has noted that “sports can be a diplomatic bridge to peace and a vehicle for healing political and cultural rifts among communities.” As the isolation caused by COVID-19 comes to a close, the world needs all the help it can get to bring communities back together. We’ll be watching the Olympics with the hope that sports can help this happen!

Are you looking for an opportunity to see a sporting event in America? Check out this list of major sporting events in the USA! And if you’d like to learn about other opportunities to sample American culture – through food 😋 – check out our blog on au pairs’ opinions of U.S. cuisine!

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace was previously the Community & Digital Content Manager for the InterExchange Marketing team. He received a Master of Science in Global Affairs from New York University, and worked with the State Department and two New York organizations with missions to introduce young people to multiculturalism and international relations.