By Alona Doroshenko, CCI Greenheart High School Exchange student

Alona is an exchange student from Ukraine who was living in Minnesota for the past academic year. She is a member of the Greenheart Club and has volunteered 123 hours! She participated on the Greenheart Trip to Washington DC and New York City. Read her reflections on the trip below!

I am so happy to have been part of the CCI Greenheart East Coast trip to Washington DC and New York City. This trip gave me an unbelievable amount of knowledge about U.S. history and I learned many secret facts that many people in this day in age don’t know about. I’ve got to know the pros and cons of real life in a big city and we had the incredible opportunity to talk to a senator face to face in Washington DC. We learned so much about the U.S government and how it works!

If I could advise someone where to go in America, I will definitely say – Washington DC. You can’t be an exchange student in this country without knowing it’s history. I generally dislike history class, but when you are standing where history actually happened, you start to love History so much, especially with the tour guides we had! Every time I stood next to a new monument, I had goosebumps because every aspect of Washington DC exhibits something really important that happened in the past…

Everybody thinks that New York City is such a bright place for great shopping with huge skyscrapers and super popular places like Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the Top of the Rock and Rockefeller Center, etc. This is definitely true, but this city also includes a rich history, great people, and many secrets. New York City is the second place that you can’t miss if you travel to the U.S.. You have to touch the Bull’s horns, visit 9/11 memorial and feel the whole atmosphere that was in 2001, eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, find the naked cowboy in Times Square and take a picture with him, skate at Rockefeller Center (if it’s winter), take a ride on the subway, take the Manhattan and Harlem tours, and volunteer with Meals on Feet!

I’m so glad that we had activities that made us think about world issues and solutions, because I started think deeply about problems that surround us and how we can solve them. I now understand that I have the ability to make a change in the world and its not just up to those around me. It was really helpful for me, because I had the opportunity to listen to the views and opinions of many people.

There are five things that I will take away from this trip that I will never forget in my life: U.S. history, community service in New York, the group that I’ve been staying with, the activities about world problems and their solutions, and our conversation with the senator.