By: Meegan Rehak, CCI Greenheart Work and Travel Employer Services Coordinator

This summer, I went on my first Going Greenheart Tour in North and South Dakota. My colleague, Ariana, and I flew from Chicago, Illinois to Bismarck, North Dakota where we began our journey.

We arrived in Bismarck and drove two hours to Medora, North Dakota. In Medora, we visited host organizations and set up a volunteer event at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which is in the heart of the Badlands. On Buck Hill Trail, we chiseled and scraped graffiti off the sandstone. We had about 15 participants help out and it made a tremendous impact on the area; now people will not see other tags and will be less likely to graffiti on natural beauty.

After two amazing days in Medora, we drove about four hours to see host organizations in South Dakota. We went to the cities of Deadwood, Keystone, Hill City, Hot Springs, and Custer, which are all located in the Black Hills. I was astounded by the gorgeous hills and greenery that surrounded us. We met with a tremendous group of participants and passionate host organizations who were eager to show us around.

We were fortunate to be in South Dakota during J-Day! J-Day is an annual celebration throughout the entire country where J-1 visa participants and their host organizations come together to celebrate the impact of cultural exchange and give back to their host communities through volunteering. At Custer State Park, over 25 people helped us clean the area in honor of J-Day! Even though a severe thunder and lightning storm stopped our project early, we continued the fun by having a barbecue and sharing stories together.

See how cultural exchange can have a tremendous impact on your community with CCI Greenheart!