By Renato Monteiro, J1 Trainee and Greenheart Club member

Renato is a Greenheart Club member who has volunteered over 75 hours during his J-1 Trainee Program for the Greenheart Club!

My name is Renato Monteiro, I am on the J1 trainee program at a Marriott hotel. After 3 months from my arrival in the United States I would like to share my experiences and stories about the progress of my program here in the city of Boca Raton, Florida. My training is at the Renaissance Boca Hotel. I started at Food and Beverage department, will work with banquets, the kitchen and I will finish my program in August in Rooms Division department. My sensational co-workers, fabulous guests and fantastic training programs makes the Renaissance a wonderful company for my personal and professional growth.

I have a great schedule within the hotel from 4:30 pm until 11pm. Because of this, I have most the day off to perform different cultural activities and get involved in projects to help my local community. Specifically, being directly involved with conservation, education, preservation and research programs for the marine and coastal Florida Ecosystem. As I will be here for only a year, I try to enjoy each day as if it were the only one.

Among the activities I’ve been doing in these three months include:

  • A visit to Florida Atlantic University
  • 3 debates on controversial issues involving the local community in the public library
  • 2 scuba diving sessions at Boca Raton Beach and Deerfield Beach with divers from 6 different nationalities
  • Snorkeling once with tourists of different nationalities
  • A boat trip for fishing with 12 people who do not know each other;
  • Weekly bike rides with different routes between towns
  • A visit to Mizner Park and a visit to Sugar Park.
  • Professional development visits to Marriott hotels in Delray Beach, Hollywood Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
  • Snorkeling in the Atlantic Dunes Delray, Dania Beach, Deerfield and Boca Raton.
  • I also participated on October 25-26th in the event, “Meet me in Promenade” in Boca Raton, with shows, crafts, typical food, antique car shows, games, and walks to raise funds for lung cancer.

Additionally, I have a commitment to at least eight hours a week as a volunteer at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, an environmental complex, located in front of the beach, in Boca Raton, Florida. Our goal is to increase public awareness of coastal and marine ecosystems through research, education, preservation and conservation. I volunteer as an apprentice Marine Tank Guide for 8 hours a week. My job is to provide education about fishes, sharks, sting grays, Morays, corals, lobsters, crabs. Also, I talk about the importance  of the mangroves and Tropical Coral Reef.  I receive and I interact with groups of visitors from all over the world. We also receive groups of schools,  people with disabilities and so on in order to provide them accurate information on the habitats and animals.

Last week, I also performed a training to become an Animal Husbandry  volunteer at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. And I will be committed to this educational program for 4 hours bi-weekly.  As an Animal Husbandry volunteer, my job is to assist with proper care and husbandry of non-sea turtle educational animals including: gopher tortoises, hermit crabs, land crab, Golden Orb Weaver Spider, snakes and the butterfly nursery.

An extra activity at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center that I participated was the Halloween in the Hammock event. More than 50 volunteers got involved in the Halloween project. It was a success! Our theme this year was “Save a Species.” 170 visitors including children and adults joined us this year for an hour-long nighttime nature walk at Hammock Trial with ghostly guides, ghouls, pirates, butterflies, spiders, sea turtles, wizards, fishes, sharks, sting gray and a grim reaper. The goal of the walk was to educate our visitors and to increase their awareness about saving ours coastal and marine species from endangerment and threat.

In one month more I will be involved with the project of Hospice Palm Beach and I will start visiting patients in order to provide to them a better quality of life by the end of their lives. I will be committed with this project 4 hours a week until  the end of my program.

I am very happy and I am really enjoying my training. I seek to get involved in projects to help my host community, contributing to a better quality of life for people who live here. I am aware of my responsibility as a trainee and my commitment to doing this training  as my greatest and most rewarding experience of my professional and personal life.

And I leave a message for all trainees, overcome all obstacles that may come to you, enjoy every moment as if it were the only, such as J1 trainee. Respect cultural differences among people and demonstrate a positive attitude towards them. Do not complain, but be thankful for the moment that you are living. Celebrate every victory. Be a team player, preserve the environment,  and care for your community. Be an expert at what you do, be innovative,  and invest in your future. Surprise and delight your guests and co-workers. Remember there is no right or wrong culture, but there are different opinions and features about people. Your job here is to adapt to the world and not the world to you.  Finally,  reach for  your dreams, because if they are in the clouds, do not worry, they are in the right place, now build the foundation to reach them.