I met a number of Summer Work Travel participants, from countries as diverse as Jamaica, Romania, China, and Turkey.

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

Last week, I traveled to the Sevierville, Tennessee to visit a group of CCI Greenheart participants who have been working at the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort for the summer. The resort has a number of indoor waterparks and it is a popular vacation spot for families. CCI Greenheart’s participants work in the housekeeping and lifeguarding departments.

When meeting with the participants, I was struck by how many places they have visited during the summer. They traveled to nearby Dollywood and Ripley’s Aquarium and many of them also visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has miles and miles of hiking trails and amazing scenic outlooks. Sometimes, they received rides from their American co-workers – I was happy to hear that our participants enjoyed working alongside their American colleagues and sharing with them about their lives in their home countries.

While participants have certainly experienced a true American summer, they have also given back to the community while they are here. It was so special for me to volunteer with a select group of participants at Sevier County Food Ministries. We helped out at this local food pantry by stocking the shelves with canned goods and other donated items that would be given away to folks in need. Some of us also worked behind the scenes organizing clothes, which were sold in the organization’s thrift store, to fund the purchase of additional food items.

The participants who volunteered told me that they were involved with volunteering back in their home countries too. One said she liked to make care packages for children in her neighborhood during the holidays, and another told me about how she volunteered at a local hospital in her area!

One final thought that struck me as I was leaving the Sevierville area was how international it felt. I met a number of Summer Work Travel participants, from countries as diverse as Jamaica, Romania, China, and Turkey. While participants may join the program to improve their English and learn more about American culture, they are also turning towns across the country into international hotspots, perfectly in keeping with the program’s mission of promoting cultural exchange.

Do you want to work, volunteer, and travel in towns like Sevierville? Learn more about CCI Greenheart’s Summer Work Travel program!