By: Eva Pacheco, Ace Hotel and Swim Club. Work and Travel Employer
Eva Pacheco is an employer from a seasonal community with CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel program. Having cooperated with CCI Greenheart for several years on her international hiring, Eva was able to travel to Thailand to hire her Spring 2014 participants. Follow Eva on her Employer Journey as she arrives in Thailand. You can read her previous blog post here.
It was a long, long flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok, but soooo worth it! I met so many lovely people along the way, who were more than kind in helping me navigate my way through a layover in China. Traveling light made getting through security checkpoints a breeze. Before I left the airport, I decided to exchange a small amount of U.S. Dollars for the Thai Baht. Several people told me during my trip that the exchange rates are a little higher in town, so wanted to be prepared.
I arrived at the hotel at and got settled into my room pretty quickly. It was a lovely hotel with a comfortable room, and after a quick shower it was time to get some rest before the excursion day the next day!
Good morning Bangkok!
I had difficulty sleeping, but I’m not sure if it was the time difference or the fact that I was so excited about what today had in store for me! The itinerary for the day included a visit to the Grand Palace, lunch on the river at a tasty restaurant, and a boat ride to a spa to get a 2 hour Thai massage. I was READY!
Representatives from the sending agency in Thailand were our tour guides for the day. First stop was a taxi to the Grand Palace. I felt prepared for the Grand Palace; because I made sure that I did not wear flip flops, sleeveless shirts or shorts (as it was stated in the handbook). However, upon walking into the palace grounds, I was stopped by a guard who told me that leggings were not appropriate attire for visiting the palace. But lucky me – I could borrow the appropriate clothes at the kiosk by the museum! At first I felt like I was making quite the fashion statement, but once I looked around, I realized that I was not the only one who had to borrow attire. Thailand has a great way of never making an outsider feel out of place.
The palace grounds were magnificently ornate. Words cannot describe, nor can pictures capture the beauty of the architecture and embellishments of the buildings and figures. You’ll have to experience it yourself to understand how touched I was by the beauty of this culture.
After the tour and a lovely lunch, it was time to take our boat ride to the spa for our Thai massage. Just as we left the restaurant, it began to rain. Hard. The guides suggested that we take a taxi to the spa instead of the boat, but I was feeling adventurous and decided to give the boat a try. Why not? I was already wet and couldn’t get much wetter! I am so glad we did! The scenery along the river was beautiful; an interesting mix of Thai and Chinese architecture with modern skyscrapers in the backdrop.
The Job Fair
You might be tempted to stay out late and experience the nightlife in Bangkok, but I would recommend getting lots of rest the night before the Job Fair. The students were somewhat nervous and excited at the same time and the entire day was very high energy.
Everyone had a pre-Job Fair meeting to ensure we all agreed on the run-of-show and that the presentations were all set. I had some concerns about the selection process, but the sending agency and their staff made this process very easy: I would interview all the students interested in my opportunities and after all were interviewed, I would communicate to the agency and CCI Greenheart which students were selected and which were not. Then they would communicate the results to the students. Piece of cake!
I was able to interview groups of two students at a time. This worked out well as most students wanted to travel in groups of two and it was a great opportunity to speak to them together and observe how they interacted with one another. I also kept the following in mind:
- How well did they communicate on their own? Did they need someone to translate for them?
- Why did they want to be part of the SWT Program? What was their motivation?
- What were their program dates? Did they understand that they were expected to work until their end date?
- Can they describe the position? Why were they interested in working with my company? I
The interview process gave me the opportunity to correct any misconceptions about the job that they had, and I was able to describe to the students a real sense of what they would be doing.
After all of the program and job related questions were covered, I asked students what they were passionate about, what were their hobbies and special interests. I was amazed at how many of them did research about our company and how our culture was a good fit with their personalities. I ended up taking more students than I had originally planned. They were all so wonderful!
What a great trip! See how I reflect on my experiences next!
By Tais Papa, CCI Greenheart Exchange Student
I’m an exchange student from Brazil, living in Metamora, Illinois since August. I was hoping to experience the American weather and climate but not as much as I did. My host sister and I were surprised on Sunday, November 17, while we were at church, with a EF-4 tornado.
There aren’t such things like that in Brazil, my home country, so I had no idea of how destructive it can be. In the middle of the service, we were all told to leave the chapel and take cover in the bathrooms of the building, since those were the safest areas of the building during a tornado. Because the whole town was without power, church was dismissed once the storm passed. Without knowing the damage caused, my host sister and I tried to pass through the most affected areas in Washington, Illinois, while trying to make our way back home from church. It was shocking to see roofs in the middle of the street, destroyed cars and power lines, personal items hanging on the trees and all the homes on some streets completely leveled.
We later discovered that the tornado passed through the entire town, cutting the town in half in a path of destruction. Because of this, we were unable to get through Washington to get home. My host parents came to get us, to lead us back out of town and through the country roads to our home. The tornado passed within a couple miles of my host house but, thankfully, it was not affected; we were just without energy the whole rest of day. But for Washington, the city right by mine, it was a catastrophe. Over 500 homes in our region were completely destroyed and over 500 more were so severely damaged that they are uninhabitable. It will be many months before the town is rebuilt.
Our school still had no electricity the next day, on Monday, so I went with my host dad, my host sister, and other members of our church to volunteer in the area affected. We helped people try to find and remove their things out of the ruins, moved boxes, and cleaned gardens. Since the city water supply was contaminated by broken pipes, we also handed out bottled water.
I was astonished with the destruction the tornado caused in just a few minutes; it passed through the entire town in less than 10 minutes. I have also never realized how it would be to suddenly lose everything. I couldn’t even recognize a house where I had been just a week before – the windows, furniture and roof were gone. People were looking for their pets, their children’s clothes, marriage pictures, family jewelry, anything that could be a memory.
What also has surprised me is how many people are working and helping, even not knowing each other, everybody doing as much as they can. I thought it was really cool the number of American flags put up in trees or even in ruins as a symbol of ”we will overcome this, together!” It really showed me how you can never give up.
Now my school is getting involved. We have Washington as our ”arch-rivals” in football but many of their football players lost their houses, so we’re going to do a team meal for them and use their team colors on Friday’s game to show our support. We are selling treats to raise money to help them and going over to their town during school hours to clean up the remains of destroyed homes and hand out donated supplies such as towels, winter clothes, school material, etc. We know that they would do the same for us.
I feel so lucky to be safe and to have the opportunity to help them. I learned to be grateful for everything and everybody that I have, and how important is to do everything we can to help. It has added so much more to all the lifelong learning that I’m having this year.
By Elyse Voyen, Greenheart Club Intern
On November 2nd CCI Greenheart’s Regional Manager Kendra Uhan organized a volunteer event at her local Maricopa County Animal Shelter. She and her wonderful group of volunteers, comprised of CCI Greenheart Exchange Students, Host Families, and Local Coordinators, worked hard cleaning cages, kennels, outdoor areas and walking the dogs. Kendra expressed to CCI Greenheart that “giving back to our community is fabulous, we are Arizona Team Greenheart!” She also noted that she is planning another service day soon. Her enthusiasm is contagious and, as illustrated in her photos below, the whole team looks like they’re having so much fun! It encourages all of us to get out there and volunteer!
By: Eva Pacheco, Ace Hotel and Swim Club. Work and Travel Employer
Eva Pacheco is an employer from a seasonal community with CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel program. Having cooperated with CCI Greenheart for several years on her international hiring, Eva was able to travel to Thailand to hire her Spring 2014 participants. Follow Eva on her Employer Journey! Watch her video here as well.
Starting the Journey with CCI Greenheart
CCI Greenheart introduces you to an employer representative right from the start. My contact is outstanding. He answers every silly question I throw at him and is always quick to remind me that no question is silly. Your representative is with you every step of the way!
The first step in participating in CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel program is filling out your business’s Placement Agreement. The Placement Agreement is the document that your participants see when agreeing to work at your business. CCI Greenheart makes filling out the Placement Agreement a very easy process. It takes me about an hour to gather all of the information needed and complete the online form. Once it is done, it is just a matter of submitting it and waiting for approval! Joe is always sure to double-check my agreement to make sure I don’t miss anything. Then it only takes a few weeks, and I get a notification that our Placement Agreement is approved and I am ready to start preparations for my Spring hiring at the Job Fair in Thailand!
Picking a Country
Each participating country has a season where the students are available and it is dependent upon their school schedule. I come from a seasonal town and we are busiest from January through June. This gives me the opportunity to place students for the Winter and Spring Programs. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had students from Argentina and Peru for the Winter Program and I had my first Spring Program last year with Thailand students. I wanted to better understand where my participants came from, so I decided to travel with CCI Greenheart to Thailand to hire my participants. This option is great, because CCI Greenheart’s Job Fairs collaborate with overseas sending partners to conduct in-person hiring with employers. I’m excited to learn about Thailand and to get the chance to interview pre-screened applicants for my business.
How to Prepare
I’ve never traveled abroad before, so I had a ton of questions about how to prepare. I did my fair share of googling Thailand travel tips to help me understand what to expect – that is, until I received my CCI Greenheart resources! These resources walk you through everything from how to prepare your PowerPoint presentation for the fair, how to pack for easy traveling, what to expect at the fair and common customs to help you interact with locals without making any offensive social faux pas. I tend to overpack for everything (I’m a just-in-case kind of person), but the tips on what and how to pack were amazing! I was able to get everything into a small carry on bag- including some gifts from America with room to bring back some, too!
By this time, my CCI Greenheart representative has introduced me to the recruiting team that I’ll be working with in Thailand. Yes, a team. Not only do I have CCI Greenheart by my side every step of the way, but also now I have a team that will be in Thailand with me screening my applicants for my positions to help me find the best fit before I even get there. Anyone who has worked with other companies that facilitate SWT programs knows that this level of attention to detail and service is NOT common. To be honest, I feel kind of spoiled. I know this level of customer service is because they care so deeply about this program – the participants, the employers and the good they do in this world; it really is rewarding to be a part of.
In addition to my CCI Greenheart team, I received a full itinerary from the partner in Thailand. The itinerary was so exciting and detailed – down to which way to turn coming out of baggage claim at the airport, to where to meet my driver. It immediately set my mind at ease. I couldn’t wait to get there and meet the students in their own environment where they were comfortable and less nervous.
Check out my next blog post to see how my travels fared!
By Josh Trangle, Work and Travel Program Assistant
With the holiday season fast approaching, this is the time of year when families come together to celebrate the things in their lives for which we they are most grateful.
Thanksgiving, a holiday whose origins stem from the celebration of a fruitful harvest, has now become an icon of American tradition. The United States, however, is not alone in its celebration of the annual harvest. Countries throughout the world have their own ways to honor this tradition. Ranging from Korea’s Chuseok to India’s Pongal to Vietnam’s Tet, all of these holidays not only celebrate the harvest, but also celebrate the ideas of community and family.
Another holiday that roots its values in these same ideals is the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. This year’s celebration of American Thanksgiving happens to coincide with Hanukkah (“The Festival of Lights”). This is the first time since 1888 that these two holidays have overlapped, and due to an anomaly between the Gregorian (Western) and Jewish calendars, this won’t happen again for another 79,000 years!
As CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel program anticipates an exciting winter new season, the participants that arrive from all corners of the world will be welcomed into the CCI Greenheart family. Each with their own unique customs and practices, these participants are now beginning to settle into their new homes and cultivate new friendships. In the spirit of the holidays, our goal is to ensure that they all feel at home, and that they are able to make names for themselves in their new communities.
As the CCI Greenheart family continues to grow, we would like to extend our warmest holiday wishes.
By Fabian Link, CCI Greenheart High School Exchange Student
Fabian is a high school foreign exchange student from Germany. He is a member of the Greenheart Club and has, thus far, completed 15 hours of service. He is also a member of the Greenheart Club’s Service Leader Prep Program which educates, equips, and empowers its members. As a member, Fabian has gone through a special, educational, service learning orientation, and he will be required to do a service learning project during his time as an exchange student. His positive, caring attitude is an inspiration to all!
I’ve volunteered for three different organizations by now. One is an organization founded by parents to set up activities for young kids. The two others are the “PetAdoptionLeague” and a church youth group. With the youth group we had a clean up around the church; we mainly picked up leaves.
I spend most of my volunteer hours at the animal shelter with a good friend of mine. We walk dogs or socialize cats that are afraid of humans and can’t be adopted because of that. I really like the shelter since the people there appreciate your work so much and the cats remind me of my own cats back in Germany.
I haven’t done so much with the youth group yet because it has just started. But we are going to
do more clean ups and similar things throughout the year. The youth group also helps me get to know other people in my area.
Maybe that doesn’t sound very important but my most rewarding thing during my volunteering was getting a kitten out of its cage. It was afraid for a couple of weeks and step by step we managed it to make her feel more confident until Tessa left her cage. Walking dogs is a thing you can feel very happy about if you consider that they have to spend most of their time in cages without anybody else. You can really feel how happy they are to get out of the cages.
Right now I actually don’t have any problems volunteering. At the beginning it was kind of hard to find a place to do it. Because small organizations like the shelter don’t make any advertisements. But if you talk with the people you really get a lot of ideas and possibilities to volunteer.
So if you don’t know what to do with your free time in the afternoon; maybe it’s time to search for volunteer opportunities!