By: Miao Au, Greenheart Exchange Work and Travel Host Organization

To me, a volunteer experience means sharing a part of myself with others without expecting anything back from them. It’s really satisfying to see how the small things you do can change someone else’s day. While it’s easy to learn new things daily from people, volunteering helps me to appreciate the “simple” things in life a bit more, and to value attributes such as patience and kindness. Volunteering also reminds me to live in the moment, focus on the present, and to enjoy every moment. Most of the time when starting a volunteer project, it is easy to think only about what you are going to share. And while we do have a lot to share with others, I think you learn more about the people you are helping.

Since I value volunteerism, participating in the community volunteer project for J Day was AWESOME!!! I enjoyed getting to help organize the activities for J Day. This was also a really great experience because it was the first year our organization celebrated J Day! It was such a success that we will definitely celebrate it again in the future. In fact, the best part of this experience would be the friends we made and anecdotes we walked away with. In just this one event, I learned so much from the J-1 visa participants – about their lives and their cultures! It’s clear that this kind of experience can change the way we see the world and our lives. As the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, said, “We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.” When I heard about J Day, I was very excited to help organize something for the summer international staff — they should feel proud of being a J-1 participant! Our organization is so happy to be able to host participants every summer from around the world.

What surprised me the most about this experience, is that this is my third cultural exchange experience, and I think it was the best one! I cannot say enough how proud I am of the different J-1 visa participants and how awesome they each are as individuals. Whether it is J Day, or just getting involved in the community, other participants should participate in volunteer activities. It gives them the opportunity to learn many new skills, empathy, and offers new experiences. Not only does this allow them to help others, but they are also helping themselves

J Day and volunteering was the experience of a lifetime. Give a little of yourself to help others.

Are you interested in how you can give a little of yourself to others? Did you know that if you sign up for the Greenheart Club and log your volunteer hours, you could become eligible for awards yourself? Sign up today and see how you can pay it forward!