By Jan Kartusek, Work and Travel Summer 2014 Ambassador Scholar

Jan is Summer 2014 Ambassador Scholar, from Slovakia, who is in the United States for his third time. In this blog post, he describes his adventures, volunteering in Alaska. 



At first, it wasn’t my plan to volunteer at the Anchorage Pioneer Home (APH). The public library had come to my mind first. But one day, I stopped at the Anchorage Pioneer Home, since it was really close to my house, to get some information about volunteering. The staff was really friendly, and my supervisor, Marylin, said volunteering there would not be a problem. So I went to the orientation, where I learned how there are many people in the APH and about the kinds of issues they are overcoming. I volunteered in different activities. For example, at a birthday party, I served cakes and beverages and played “mind jogging” games, which focuses on forcing residents of APH to think for themselves and answer quiz questions.


A few days ago, I decided to go to a state fair in Palmer, Alaska to help the staff of APH. I spent the whole day – 6 hours- with my friend Louie, who is a 94 year old World War II veteran. I met other volunteers from different backgrounds, and I had a good time with Louie. He was interested in animals, so we went to a snake show. Then we explored the farmers market and some other attractions. On our way through the state fair, many people thanked Louie for his service to the country. It was fascinating to hear his stories from WWII and his deployment in the Pacific. After we were done, we all met in the entrance and I helped to load wheelchairs to the bus and van. We returned to Anchorage Pioneer Home and I thanked everyone. I think I will never forget my experience at APH.


Volunteering is great thing because it doesn’t cost you anything – only time. So if you are bored, don’t know what to do, or if you want to help someone and make a difference in your city, go out there and volunteer. There are many organizations around the world that need volunteers. You can learn a lot by volunteering. For example, I now know how the Anchorage Pioneer Home works, what the issues are, and more importantly, how to cope with death and pain that is everlasting in similar institutions.