As an important and active employer with the Ukrainian National Association, Bohdana Puzyk describes her experience with students spending summer as Summer Work Travel participants and the experience she had volunteering and exploring the Shawangunk Mountains.

By: Bohdana Puzyk, Ukrainian National Association – Soyuzivka Heritage Center

On August 4, 2015 a group of students from Ukraine, who have been working at the Soyuzika Ukrainian Heritage Center in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York, had the opportunity to volunteer in a local state park. Minnewaska State Park works in conjunction with Soyuzivka property and OSI (Open Space Institute) to create a recreational and historic retreat. The students were asked to help mark the trail to make hiking more safe and enjoyable.

The group of students was divided into two work teams. One team headed out in the morning to mark a trail to the Green Pool and the Waterfalls. The other team departed in the afternoon to mark the trail leading to the cliffs. Once all the work was done, everyone celebrated with a pizza party and bonfire in the evening.

The following day everyone went on a mini “field trip” to a water park in New Jersey. This gave students a chance to relax and spend some quality time with one another. During the week of August 16th, fifteen students will be taking a trip to visit various historical sites including New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Niagara Falls. This is sure to be a trip students will have many stories to share with friends and family at home.

Learn more about the J-1 Summer Work and Travel program.