By Marcelle Benedicta, Employer Relations Manager, and Joe Burns, Employer Services Manager

Escaping the cold winter and snowy days to spend a few days in the Caribbean while meeting wonderful J-1 participants? Why not! This is what CCI Greenheart and United States employers did in January, as part of CCI Greenheart’s Job Fair hiring events in Jamaica and Dominican Republic.

Our partners in Jamaica and Dominican Republic did a great job pre-screening the participants for the employers and jobs available. The employers were blown away by how the participants were prepared for the interviews! They knew about the job details and the community where they were going to be working throughout the summer time, and it made for an efficient interview time at the Job Fair.

The Job Fair is not complete without learning a thing or two about the culture. Jamaican food is, of course, amazing … from jerk chicken to curry goat as entrées, to bammy and beef patty as snacks; we tasted the true flavors of Jamaica. When we weren’t eating, we explored Port Royal in Kingston at the end of the Palisadoes (a promontory that nearly encircles the waterfront); and learned about Fort Charles, which was the first fort ever constructed there and is still very well preserved with its rows of semi-circular gun ports in the fading red brickwork.

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Following the Job Fair in Dominican Republic, we took a tour of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo, which has been declared a Word Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Colonial City, or “Ciudad Colonial,” is the first permanent European settlement of the New World, following Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the island in 1492. We also had some great food and enough sunshine to get us through the rest of the winter in the United States.

We also did a Greenheart Project in Jamaica, where we went to the Jamaica National Children’s Home and spent a few hours with the children there.  We read books, did math problems, played on the swing set, and ate cakes and ice cream. The children also loved our Greenheart stickers! Our Summer 2013 Ambassador Scholars, Sushania Pryce and Orville Tomlinson, also came and volunteered with the group. It was good to be reminded of the blessings that we have, and how it’s so easy to volunteer our time and make others’ lives better. One of the employers said that this volunteering event was the highlight of the trip! It was a definitely win for everyone involved.

Hillary Sushania Marcelle Nigel

Our partners in Jamaica and Dominican Republic really outdid themselves, again, and made everyone feel welcomed. We’re really excited to welcome our participants this summer and for them to share their culture with their American colleagues!