Connecting with community, one volunteer project at a time

Sushania is a three-time CCI Greenheart J-1 Summer Work Travel participant from Jamaica. This year, Sushania is working at Federal Jacks Restaurant and Brewpub in Kennebunkport, Maine. She is also the recipient of the CCI Greenheart Ambassador Scholarship that rewards active volunteer service during the Summer Work Travel program with a full reimbursement of the program fee upon completion of scholarship requirements. In 2012, Sushania won a Greenheart Club grant after volunteering 25 hours in her host community.

Read Sushania's take on her SWT experience and her time volunteering in the community hosting her in the U.S. below.

Despite having a hectic work schedule, I am still able to find at least two hours every Wednesday to volunteer at the Louis T. Graves Memorial Library in Kennebunkport, Maine. Volunteerism means so much more to me than just entering in hours. It has literally become a part of my being. I always try to seize every available opportunity to become more involved in my host community.

With every passing week, there comes a different experience while at the library. Not only do I feel welcomed and at home, but I also enjoy corresponding with the many locals as I check in and out their books or assist them with the computer. What I love most about volunteering at the library is the opportunity to speak about my home country and engage in cultural exchange with everyone I may encounter. Many seem to be thrilled and intrigued by my culture, and by the end of a conversation they all plan to take a trip to Jamaica.

I have also managed to do some volunteering with my manager from Federal Jacks Restaurant. I assisted her in providing sandwiches and of course beer for the Kennebunk Free Library Annual 5K Run/Walk Road Race. It was my second time volunteering with her and I enjoyed it very much. This is just one of the ways in which Federal Jacks is able to give back to its community and I am happy I was able to assist in that endeavor.

Volunteering in the U.S.A. is not just about me having the opportunity to enter hours into the Greenheart Club, but for me to learn more about my host community and participate in a cultural exchange with the residents of my host community. I enjoy learning about American culture, just as they are interested to learn about Jamaican culture. It also helps me to be a well-rounded individual and strengthens my social skills. In addition, it motivates me to do more volunteering in my home country.

Author: CCI Greenheart