By: Career Advancement Program Services Assistant Tom Nally

Each time I visit New York City, I ride the subway at least once. These days New Yorkers may not think much of the train service but the subway always features a unique representation of the diverse melting pot of cultures in the United States.

As I look around at the people of the train, I’m always struck by the number of different backgrounds, languages, and cultural representations I see. Ride long enough and you start to feel like every country is the world is on board.

Seeing the great diversity of people always leaves me with the thought that this is what is great about America. We have so many cultures and countries represented living, interacting, and working side by side.

After my subway ride this theme continued when I saw a diverse group of people working together to beautify path-side plant beds at the Lower East Side Ecology center. It was the dozens of J-1 participants who came out for our J-day volunteer event. I met participants from South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Norway!

I really enjoyed talking to the participants about their home countries, experience in the U.S., and desire to learn about other cultures while sharing their own. I walked into a fun conversation with participants from Brazil, Norway, and Germany telling Korean participants how much they enjoyed trying Bulgogi and Kimchi. They then compared notes on the best Korean restaurants in the city and hoped to go together sometime!

The day ended with a pizza party and a chance for participants to further connect and share experiences. Complete with reminder from a visiting representative of the Department of State how much positive impact the participants can make by sharing their experiences on program.

I left the event feeling optimistic and proud to be part of a program enabling the phenomenal participants to learn, laugh, connect, and exchange culture here in the U.S. It was a celebration of culture but also of our common aspirations as global citizens. A truly memorable J Day and visit to the Big Apple.

A big shout out to our Greenheart attendees and participants I visited on my trip. Hearing how much you have grown and enjoyed your time always puts a smile on my face. I can’t wait to hear what you will do next!

Inspired by Tom’s story? Learn more about great volunteer opportunities with Greenheart Club!