By Molly Friend, Greenheart Outreach Coordinator

As end of the high school year festivities begin like prom, graduation, and finals; Greenheart Club also has our series of closing ceremonies. Global Youth Service day this weekend will be a culmination of service projects for many of our volunteers. Additionally awards will be mailed out to all of our nearly 200 active Greenheart Club members. While we wish each and every Greenheart Club member could come to Chicago to celebrate their year of service while in the USA, we can only bring four.

Each year we recognize our top two Greenheart Club members from our Grants program and our top two Academic Year Program (AYP).  This year’s top earners come from a variety of countries and engaged in a multitude of service opportunities during their exchange program. Let’s get to know the Top Earners before they come to Chicago May 10 to be formally recognized.

ALINA, 368 volunteer hours

Hello 🙂 My name is Alina Gabdrakhmanova. I’m an exchange student from “FLEX” program. My home country is an amazing and beautiful land – Russia. In Russia we have all different kind of nature and weather, but my most favorite season is summer. So, after winning a grant to go to the USA I was really happy to find out I was placed in Texas! Here I live in a town called Katy which is very close to Houston. I love everything about Texas, and especially my host family that really helped me to adjust to the new environment and culture.

My host parents are the ones who encouraged me to volunteer. By watching the contribution they make in their church serving as a Volunteer’s coordinators, I wanted to try to volunteer too. So I started to participate in their community projects like painting porches for the eldery. Then, I realized that a liked volunteering, so I added another experience at my host family’s church where I work as a Sunday school teacher. I play with kids of age 1-2 years old. I love it because I love working with kids, learn games and songs. My other volunteering experience is helping at the community library. There I not only sorted the books but also took part in several celebrations, such as Hispanic Heritage Week. I thought children to do crafts, took pictures, served food, and also watched an amazing concert of Hispanic participants. Also, I worked at the Assistance ministries, sorting and selling the donated items. That is all just a part what I have done and experienced. Volunteering for me now is a part of the life. Everything I learned here volunteering is a contribution to the improvement of society!

SUNBUL, 337 volunteer hours

I did 337 hours of volunteering at different places. I worked for Ellen Cohen for council C. I helped My host father in store and was tutoring my host brother. I did work by Packing supplies for Pakistani Flood victim at Pakistani center in America. I was working at mosque “Masjid al Farooq” weekend school as the teachers’ helper. I was also helping in Houston Public Library. I did take part in Child care and helped at Houston Burmese Christian church. I worked for Houston Pregnancy help center ‘Love of Life’ banquet, over there I organized and tagged name badges and greet and welcomed guests.

ALEXANDER, 216 volunteer hours

My name is Alexander Frings and I’m from Cologne in Germany. During my exchange year I live in Thomson, Georgia. Thomson’s population is about 6,800 inhabitants and is 25 miles away from Augusta.
Most of my volunteer work I’ve done was as a photographer for my school and at local events for the local newspaper.  Many of my pictures were used for the school webpage, yearbook, and presentations.
I also volunteered in a food bank where my host-grandfather is working and I participated in two Greenheart projects in Montgomery, Alabama and Augusta, Georgia. In addition to that, I gave presentations about culture and lifestyle in Germany and Europe at my school. I will continue with the community service for the rest of my exchange year even when Greenheart finished the counting of the volunteer hours.  Because I want the give something back to my school and the great people of Thomson who gave me so much in this exchange year. I really have enjoyed my time here in Thomson. I made a lot of new friends, joined the soccer team of Thomson High School and now I’m really looking forward to prom. When I return to Germany I will finish the school and after that I want to become an airline pilot. For this job I need good English and that’s one of the reasons behind the decision for the exchange year in America. This is a chance to improve my skills by learning and doing. I really can say that this exchange year was the best year of my life!

SUSANNE,  164 volunteer hours

My name is Susanne Claessen, I am 17 years old and I am an AYP student from The Netherlands. At the moment I am living in Atlanta, Georgia.  I’ve done a lot of different community services. Every Sunday in the beginning of the year I volunteered at the local church, doing church nursery.

Another thing that I’ve done was with other exchange students. There was a day that we recycled, a day where we collected soap and other stuff for the homeless and a day where we volunteered at Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is an international, non-profit organization that builds ‘’simple, decent, and affordable’’ housing, for people that have for example lost their house because of a tornado. I also did some community service with my school, the school organized a ‘helping hands day’ in memorial of 9/11 and we helped out in a wilderness park the whole day.

I was also involved in school as the manager of the school play, I go to a little private school in Atlanta and they needed a manager very urgently so I jumped in on the last moment, two weeks before the performance.

I did some community service during Christmas with the church, I volunteered for the ‘Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse’ where you buy stuff for children in third world countries for Christmas, you put that in a box and the organization will send the boxes all over the world.

I also volunteered at my host mom her office, she has her own company and she needed some help with some stuff so I helped her out. My most current community service was at a CCI Georgia training with about 25 Local Coordinators from Georgia, they interviewed us and we had to give a little speech about our experience.

These inspiring students will be visiting CCI & Greenheart’s offices in Chicago for a celebration weekend May 10-13th!