By: Haldis Toppen, Work and Travel Cultural Outreach Coordinator

I am not sure if it is the shock of a long winter or not, but it is a disbelief that summer has arrived to Chicago. In addition to the lovely weather, summer signals another yearly event – the start of Work and Travel summer arrivals. This year over 5,000 international students, under CCI Greenheart sponsorship, will arrive to the United States and begin their adventures working in the U.S.A.

Ambassador Scholars SU14

In the summer of 2013, CCI Greenheart created the Ambassador Scholarship program for Work and Travel participants. When CCI Greenheart initially developed the concept of the Ambassador Scholarship, we hoped that it would be a fun new venture for all our stakeholders – participants, employers, community organizers and partners. However, the summer went above and beyond any hopes and dreams we held for the program. In addition to being leaders in their American communities, our seven Ambassador Scholars were able to accomplish the following:

  • Featured in Four news articles.
  • Twenty-five Blog Posts
  • Forty-two videos on YouTube
  • Volunteered a total of 145 hours in their American Communities
  • Awarded a total of $1500 in Greenheart Grants to use in their home country.

Impressively, Summer 2014 is expected to beat out these remarkable numbers with almost double the amount of awarded scholars. In addition to the two spring Ambassador Scholars in country, there will be THIRTEEN new Scholars arriving to American shores within the next month. Here is what one Ambassador Scholar, Abdulsamet Kilicarslan from Turkey, had to say about his adventure to the United States:

“Living new experiences, beyond my limits… Sometimes in life we come across different opportunities by chance, destiny, or coincidence. I believe this opportunity is one of those that are once in a lifetime. Yes, I have been abroad before but none of these trips were far and for such a long time. At least, I had friends in the places I went. I will be traveling to a brand new world. I will know no one and know very little. Sometimes it feels very weird. I ask myself ‘’What are you doing?’’ but I know that when I return I will be extremely happy and have had been through a lot. As leaving time approaches, it becomes more real – I’m really going! I move forward towards  my hopes, my expectations, my excitements and fears. I move towards an unforgettable adventure, and in exactly one month this adventure begins.”

As participants continue to share their Ambassador Scholarship programs, be sure to follow this blog to see all the fun they are having. In the meantime, check out our YouTube playlist!