By: Rob Delaney, CCI Greenheart Work and Travel Employer Relations Coordinator

On Saturday, August 6th, I marched in Perry, Missouri’s 150th Anniversary Town Parade with fifteen of CCI Greenheart’s participants! The local residents were cheering us on as we walked by and the participants were taking pictures of the town too. After the parade was over, we settled down to some delicious grilled kabobs and funnel cake!

It is always a treat to be able to visit with our participants at their worksites. As I was talking to them about how they liked their jobs, they told me about swimming at the water park, watching people fish in the lake, and other experiences they had in the community. Some toured the banks of the Mississippi River and a few even showed me photos of a tractor pull they attended!

They are bringing so much to their host community as well. At dinner the night before the parade, we talked about their interests and experiences in their home countries prior to coming to the United States. Many spoke with me about different volunteer activities they do back home. Some of the participants have joined projects to build homes for people living in poverty. Others said they volunteer with the elderly. One girl spoke about how she is a part of a group at her university in China that helps welcome new students to campus.

All of them said that their experience this summer in Missouri has given them the opportunity to improve their English and experience American culture. One participant told me that he had studied English for years back home but being in the United States and speaking with Americans has really improved his language skills. In addition, many of the participants said volunteering to help set up the festival and marching in the parade gave them another way to integrate into their communities and meet new people.

Now that the summer is past the half-way mark and Labor Day is right around the corner, many of the participants have their minds set on traveling and visiting some of the bigger cities in the United States. Wherever they go next, though, I hope they will share with the people they meet about their great experience working in Missouri!

Do you want to have a life-changing summer in the United States? Learn more about CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel Program!