By: Royce Maricar Gumpal, Filipino Career Advancement Program internee at Canyon Ranch Tucson, Arizona

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The first thing I did after reading this email?  SCREAMED!!! It was one of the best days I have had and I felt like everything was falling into place. The funny thing was that I dreamed about receiving a rejection email the night before I received this email from CCI Greenheart. That’s why I freaked out. HAHA!

THE START OF MY JOURNEY

I totally missed the entire first day because of flight issues but I was so happy to arrive safely (even though I had a hard time finding Hostelking International) and still had the chance to participate in the evening session where I met everyone. It was a fun night, meeting all my co-participants from different countries and of course, Haldis and Molly! I had a hard time sleeping because I’m from Arizona (3 hour difference, LOL).

 

HELPING HANDS

It’s time to volunteer! We went to Capital Area Food Bank and volunteered for 3 hours and we sorted meats (Beef, Pork, Poultry and Shellfish). It was my first time volunteering here in America and it feels really amazing to do such a thing. It was really an eye-opening activity for all of us, because we are really privileged to eat 3 times a day (or more sometimes). Knowing that there are a lot of hungry people, not just in the D.C. area, but all over America, is really sad. We had an activity after that taught us how to value money.

WHERE’S THE BAND?

After an intense afternoon of preparation for the activity the next day, we needed a break and went to Nando’s Peri-Peri to have some dinner. It took us forever to get a table but it was worth it because the food was really good. We missed the Air Force Band that performed at the Main Capitol Building, but we still had a great time. We were totally addicted to taking selfies (thanks to Amazon HAHA). We ended the night with some ice cream!

MOMENT OF TRUTH

The most exciting part of my D.C. journey was meeting Ms. Robin Lerner, U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector-Exchange Programs (Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs), and exchanging ideas on how we want to make an impact in our countries by volunteering and doing service activities. It was quite intense! Everyone was sweating after meeting Ms. Lerner! But overall, it was a great opportunity for all of us. Not everyone is fortunate enough to meet someone with a position in the government and we were lucky to be included in the International Exchange Alumni!

 

WALK OF FAME

What is the benefit of participating in a conference like this? Touring around! Yes, we climbed 14,000 steps while touring around the National Mall. It was amazing and really tiring! We did some “monumenting” on the Washington Memorial which was really fun and we really took time looking at the “EUTURE-FUTURE” mistake in Abraham Lincoln’s memorial.

 

LAST NIGHT

After an intense morning and an afternoon walkathon, we had dinner at Clyde’s which was really FANCY and I’d say that the food was really sumptuous! After dinner, we went to a national baseball game and watched how the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets! We ended the night with more ice cream! LOL!

 

NO GOODBYES, JUST SEE YOU SOON

I guess the 4-day Conference went by too fast. After the last activity with Molly and Haldis, we went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. After the tour, we started splitting which was really sad but hey, spending 4 days and 3 nights with all these wonderful people was such an amazing experience. It’s an experience that I will surely treasure forever! Thank you, CCI Greenheart, for choosing me and giving me the opportunity to learn, have fun, and explore with this amazing team!