“I want to make history”: Stories from an international volunteer

Many participants of the J-1 Trainee program embrace the opportunity of taking their exchange experience a step further by getting involved in community service and the volunteer movement in the United States.

Renato Falco Monteiro, a CCI Greenheart participant from Brazil, is an outstanding Greenheart Club member and J-1 Trainee in Florida. As you can tell from his below recollections about his time in Boca Raton, FL and the progress of his traineeship, Renato sure has been busy!

By Renato Falco Monteiro, CCI Greenheart Trainee & Greenheart Club Member

It’s been five months, since the beginning of my program this past August. I carry on very well at my job at the Renaissance hotel and am enjoying a lot of the American culture and business.

I have completed more than 170 hours of community service for the City of Boca Raton, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, the City of Deerfield Beach and for Hospice West Palm Beach. I have been working really hard in order to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences for our guests and ambassadors at the Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel. I started volunteering as an Apprentice Marine Sea Tank Guide at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. After two months I have become a Senior Marine Sea Tank Guide. And 15 days ago I have become able starting to volunteer as a Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Educator. I had to perform 100 hours of volunteer at the environmental complex and to attend some classes with the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Coordinator as a prerequisite. I carry on taking environmental education, conservation, research and preservation to tourists, residents and school groups who visit us at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.

In recent months I have participated in a variety of volunteer endeavors. I also have become capable of acting as a volunteer for Hospice Palm Beach. On December 14th I attended the event 2nd Annual District 2 holiday Clean-Up in the City of Deerfield Beach. There were over 170 volunteers representing a group, company, schools, university and so on. I represented Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel. We formed a chain and all together appreciate the moment and we follow to our destinations. We headed for the poorest communities in the city of Deerfield Beach. There were more than 5 hours of volunteering, cleaning up the streets and talking to residents about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling our waste. We also talked about rethinking our actions over the environment. At 12:00 pm we wentback to the park, where all volunteers had lunch together, celebrated the event and shared the experiences of each group.

The highlight of December is on account of my participation in the 43rd Annual Holiday Street Parade in the City of Boca Raton, for the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, that took place on December 4th. There were a lot of fun floats, school bands, parties and music. All kinds of twinkling holiday decorations appeared. This year's parade theme was “Super Heroes”. The Gumbo Limbo’s interpretation for the theme was “Environmental Super Heroes of the future: Protectors of the Planet”. There were more than two weeks together in order to build our float and costumes, define who would be our heroes and villains, prepare better our theme and to elaborate on messages of environmental education that we would take to the audience in the day of the event.

People congratulated us on a job well done and on our costumes. At this point, we knew that we have done our best, so that, people become more aware about issues that involve preservation, conservation, education and research of the marine and wildlife ecosystems of our planet. ... [And] from more than 70 groups and floats, we got the second place in the parade.

I’m proud to be a member of the Greenheart Club. I am extremely happy to be part of the team of ambassadors of Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel. And with great pleasure that I serve as a volunteer for the city of Boca Raton, carrying the message of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center for our schools, tourists and residents in order to increase public awareness of coastal and marine ecosystems through research, education, preservation and conservation. I will be committed to provide magical and unforgettable experiences to our guests and ambassadors until the end of my program in July of 2014. I will continue engaging in community service developed in Florida. I want to continue making history through which I passed being remembered as a person with a positive attitude, dedicated and interested in learning more every single day about local business and culture. The work that we have been doing does touch lives.

Author: CCI Greenheart