By: Robert Safiullin, Greenheart Exchange Work and Travel participant

My girlfriend and I are very lucky people. With the help of Greenheart Exchange, we both traveled abroad for the first time and found a great place to live and work: Easton, Maryland!

We weren’t expecting to find so many new friends here! Among these new friends were cats and dogs from the local Talbot Humane shelter. At the beginning of the summer, we met an animal control officer, Valentine, who gladly showed us around the shelter. We both used to be volunteers back in our home country, and we’ve had quite a bit of experience helping people and animals. This is why we decided to help animals here in the United States! Can you imagine being a volunteer in another country?!

Our volunteer work entails taking dogs for walks and working in a thrift shop, where people donate food and medicine to help the animals. I’ve noticed that people in the United States are very generous! I also occasionally help out with yard work around the shelter building when it is needed. Some say that yard work is not the responsibility of the volunteers, but when it comes to animals it is important they have a space to walk and play. Therefore, I do not mind and am happy to help the animals in any way that I can.

When it comes to learning English, I have become much more confident. At the beginning, I would respond with just “yes” or “no”, but now I always have something to say! I am thankful for all of the people at my workplace and at the shelter for helping me to improve my language skills. Another added bonus of volunteering is the constant movement and exercise. In just three weeks, I lost weight!

Don’t be afraid of taking the first step out of your comfort zone! Remember that the success of your summer depends entirely on you. Make the best of it!

Inspired to volunteer abroad like Robert? Check out Greenheart Exchange’s Work and Travel program to learn more!