By: Crystal Deng, Greenheart Work and Travel participant and Ambassador Scholar 

The Summer Work Travel program has been a one of a kind cultural experience for me to get to know people from around the world. It has given me the first-hand chance to experience authentic American culture, to learn about American people, and to learn something from people with a totally different cultural background. And there is no doubt, I have learned a lot!

I have met a lot of nice people during my program. I especially like to hear their stories, and share my stories with them. This process creates a living bridge, connecting each of us. As I see my experiences reflected through the eyes and ears of others listening to me, I gain new perspectives. Likewise, when others share their experiences with me, I also get another angle.

I especially want to mention a graceful old lady, who I met at a food pantry where I volunteer to feed hungry people. Daisy is also a volunteer there. I was really sorry to hear that she had cancer, but she always showed us a positive attitude and encouraged the families who came to the food pantry. She is a devoted Catholic, and I once overheard her speaking with a struggling family in a way that really impressed me. She said, “I have cancer, and I hope God will heal both you and me”. I think this faith is powerful to support this graceful lady. She gave me 6 pairs of earrings, designed from the Bible. I think I will go get my ear pierced for those beautiful earrings! And Ms. Daisy told me to keep a kind heart. The earrings she gave me and the words she told me, I will always keep as a treasure. I have learned from Daisy to always have a positive attitude in life! I am a young adult now, and I could encounter many different kinds of failure in my future, but I believe a positive attitude will always help me to overcome the challenges that will appear.

Another person I want to talk about is Carole, one of my co-workers. The past two months, we often work together. Every time I work with her, any boring or repetitive task becomes interesting and seems to pass quickly. She is very funny and always tells jokes. She often sees the good sides of something. Whenever we face an issue, she looks at the bright side instead of complaining. We like to talk about her childhood in Japan, the movies, Stephen King’s works, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and so much more! We get along with each other really well, and I enjoy exchanging experiences and ideas with her! I think my English has improved from talking with her, and most importantly, her humor has been a really positive influence on me!

There are also nice young people! For example, Lexi is an American girl who works with us. She always drives us to take part in some interesting activities. For example, she took us to her home and made authentic American food for us, she took us to an event center to watch a rodeo, she taught us how to dance, and took us to the top of the mountain to see a beautiful view of Colorado Spring’s city lights. She has given me many precious memories!

There are also many maintenance people in my workplace who are very nice. Gerry is the head of maintenance, and he taught me how to drive a golf cart. Alex always works hard and enjoys working, while Jim always says hello to us in Chinese (which is funny). There are many more people that I did not mention — I learn a lot from everyone.

I really have learned so much from all of these nice people, and I believe their attitude towards life and work will continue to have a positive impact on me in the future. Thanks Greenheart Exchange for providing this chance for cultural immersion! Both the experiences I have had and the friends I have made are something I will always treasure.

Do you want to learn from others in an authentic cultural exchange? Look into our Summer Work Travel program. Follow us on Twitter to see all of the wonderful friendships that have been created!