By: Maria Luevano – Greenheart Exchange External Relations Assistant & Julia Rabin – Greenheart Exchange Cultural Outreach Assistant

The Summer Work Travel program has ramifications and a lasting impact long after participants head back home! Whether it’s hard skills – such as learning a new language, or soft skills – such as gaining confidence and a wider worldview, this program changes lives for the better! In January, Greenheart Exchange External Relations Assistant, Maria, ventured to Thailand. She was able to catch up with a group of alumni and heard all about what Summer Work Travel gave to them.

Many future Summer Work Travel participants learn about the program from their friends! It’s kind of expected for Thai students to do SWT during university. And it’s no surprise that it’s become such a common practice – the students learn a multitude of practical skills that just don’t appear in a classroom. Embarking on the Summer Work Travel program provides lessons in independence, problem-solving, understanding, and often changes a participant’s perspective and worldview.

Traveling to Thailand allowed Greenheart Exchange to catch up with alumni of the program, and ask them what the program had given to them. Numerous alumni are working in customer-facing jobs now that they’re back in Thailand. Many of them attributed some of the skills they need for their jobs today to their time on Work and Travel. For example, one alumnus we spoke with works with tourists in Thailand, so she uses English daily! Having been to the United States and getting the opportunity to practice her English skills on a daily basis not only set her up for success but has made her feel comfortable and proficient. Another alumnus is a two-time Work and Travel participant and now finds herself working as an executive assistant for a German auto company. She explained that having the Summer Work Travel program on her resume when applying to jobs in Thailand was a huge advantage, and clearly set her apart.

Other participants spoke less about the hard skills they had gained, and instead reflected on the ways being a part of a new culture challenged their perspectives or allowed them to feel a part of a cultural exchange. Wichaya, a former participant, and Greenheart Global Leader’s Conference attendee, revealed that this experience taught him not to judge other people. He also became more independent, learned the value of personal responsibility and courage, and broke out of his comfort zone! Justin spoke about how incredible it was to actually visit the United States. He had always felt like he grew up with American culture, because of the prevalence of American music. However, he never expected to actually be able to visit the country and he dreams of going back all the time! Justin had a fabulous experience and felt that his host organization really trusted him. He also loved getting to know friends from around the globe – he often cooked them Thai food and they taught each other different languages.

Whether it’s an exchange of languages, food, culture, a line for your resume, or a growth in confidence – the skills the Summer Work Travel program empowers you with are skills you will carry for the rest of your life!

Do you want to gain new skills, and see what the Summer Work Travel program can give to you? Explore your options with Greenheart Exchange.