By Marney Coleman, Service Learning & Outreach Coordinator

This year, the Greenheart Club has had over 800 CCI Greenheart high school exchange student join as members and contribute over 17,000 volunteer hours. Each year we recognize four outstanding Greenheart Club members and, as a thank you for their hard work, we invite them to our Greenheart Club Leader Weekend Trip to Chicago. This year we selected two members from our Grants Program and two from our Academic Year Program. All students who volunteered over 75 volunteer hours were invited to apply. We received many applications and were astounded by the compassion, commitment, and level of excellence embodied in so many of the Greenheart Club members. Thus, it is with tremendous pleasure that we introduce you to this years winners, Tala, Pierluigi, Anahit, and Onno.

11146397_965890126762722_7306387025570185007_oTala from Jordan: My name is Tala Abu Hayyaneh. I am a 17 year old YES Exchange student. I live with my host family the Medeiros’ [CCI Greenheart Area Coordinator] in Richmond, Maine and I go to Richmond High School. My year is going great, I got involved in my community and with my family, I made a lot of connections and have been making the best of my year. Playing soccer for a fall sport, playing basketball for a winter sport and making the varsity team on both sports and going all the way to final games gave me a great high school experience. Aside from sports, I joined Debate, Drama, and Key Club. I got involved in Chorus class and I am helping my classmates prepare for an Arabian Traditional song that they are singing in the Spring Concert. Volunteering has been a big part of my year either with my School Club and with the town pantry or library. I would never wish for a better year and I am really grateful  to have come on the program, it has been a great year for me and I hope that I represented my country and the program in a good way.

My footballPierluigi from Italy: My name is Pierluigi D’Amore, I’m 17 years old and I am from Italy. Italy is a beautiful country with a lot of history. Much of this history is still evident, like the colosseum in Rome. My country is a southern nation in Europe and is a sunshine country. It’s also got beautiful beaches. I love my country not only for its beauties but also for its food. My host country is so big! The spaces are huge, very different from my home country. Everything is so fast here including people’s lifestyle. Always on the run. I like my host country for these reasons, it’s so modern, fast and everyone is friendly. My hobbies are mostly sports. I love playing soccer, I like basketball too and I learned that American football is exciting. What I appreciate a lot of my host country is that sports in school are very important. In Italy sport is something that you can do after school with your friends or private association. Volunteering during this high school year abroad has been my first experience. I volunteered at WKU Planetarium as audience assistant and tech operator. I enjoyed it and while I volunteered I felt that I was giving something to the others, not only the visitors but the staff as well. You get a good feeling when you are helping someone. This is one of the reasons I think volunteering is important. The whole year abroad has been a great experience and I will cherish it for a life time.

anahit photo 2Anahit from Armenia: My name is Anahit Ghazaryan. I was born in 1996 in Armenia. My family members are my mother, father, brother and sister. I am the eldest child in my family. My mother is H.R. manager in a medical center, and my father is a businessman. My sister and brother are students. I’ve graduated from high school in 2014.  In the same year I’ve graduated from Music and Art school with a major in opera. I’ve also graduated from Armenian Future Leaders School (2012) as well as American Future Leaders School (2015). One of them was “Democracy Starts with You” (2013). During which I represented Armenia in Brussels. I have participated in many different programs and received different prizes. And in 2014 I was chosen as a finalist for the FLEX program. Now I am in the United States. I have a lot of hobbies.I like reading, watching historical movies, playing chess, and singing among many activities. I am also interested in volunteering. Volunteering is very important for me as helping others is my greatest pleasure. Being in the United States has helped me to recognize and to love volunteering. I have volunteered at bicycle races (handing out food to the cyclists), at children camps (helping children with studying), at an ice skating rink (giving out skates) etc. I am also regularly volunteering at the Athens Morton Theater, at St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Church, at the American Red Cross, and at the Athens Peer Court where I am volunteering as a youth advocate.  I have derived much personal growth and satisfaction from these varied experiences.

Onno picture

Onno from Germany: My Name is Onno and I’m 17 years old. I was born in Oldenburg, Germany where I live with my mother in a apartment in Germany. My parents are divorced and I see my dad regularly. I enjoy photography, long boarding, snowboarding and videography. My best friend Felix shares the same interests and I know him since my birth. I always volunteered in my life just to help people. I’m looking for a German military career or a police career. I wanted to do an exchange because I always loved America and I came here once when I was 10 to see the country. Since then I always wanted to live here for a year! Then I looked out for organizations and found CCI! I’m really happy to be here and proud to be one of the winners for the trip. Thank you very much!