By: Ericka Licayan, Greenheart J-1 Intern program participant

“Life Changing”. That is the best word to describe the program that I am into right now. Leaving my homeland, being away from my loved ones and taking my internship in a very far country was incredibly hard. But I tell you, it is a risk that is worth taking. Just simply being here in Washington State was considerably one of the most amazing things that has happened in my entire life, and I could not be happier to be a part of wonderful Crystal Mountain family.

Working in a food service industry is probably one of the most challenging job in the world but unknown by many, it is also the most gratifying one. Seeing those people I serve enjoy every moment of their stay makes my heart jump for joy. Yes, I might feel pressured, stressed, and tired all day, but it is all nothing compared to the sweetest smile and goodbye that the every guest gives me and it reciprocates an incredible feeling! In the past 8 months of my stay here, I have seen the magic of winter season but never did I imagine that summer has something more special to offer; from seeing the little flakes of snow floats down to the transitions into a flower that beautifully blooms. Words aren’t enough to describe how grateful I am to have the chance to see a phenomenal masterpiece of God every working day of my life.

There is no greater joy representing my own country, working with different kind of people from all walks of life and building a great camaraderie despite all our differences. People get to share their culture, values and experience in life. I got to embrace them wholeheartedly, and that’s what makes my cultural exchange even more meaningful. Being able to see and experience the variance of American culture is priceless; I’ve gained not only friends but most importantly, a true family. Appreciating the life in the United States is not just about earning dollar; it is also about taking advantage of the opportunity to learn and discover new things not just from work but with other people that surrounds you as well. What matters the most is that you learn, grow and enjoy from that wonderful experience.

The never ending frustrations, learnings, adjustments, failures and success of this experience has given me a wide array of opportunities; opportunities which allowed me to grow holistically. A mountain of thanks to all the people behind this Internship Program. To my Crystal Mountain Family, thank you for  helping me learn more about my chosen profession. I say that, not only my skills were greatly improved, but also my sense of responsibility and discipline towards valuing every little thing.  Indeed, it served its purpose and opened a gate for a different yet exciting world for me in the future. Hence, all those things are going to be my great weapon in attaining the battle for the thing called success.

Learn more about Greenheart’s J-1 Intern & Trainee program here!