By Sofie from Norway, 2013-2014 J-1 High School Program Participant

My name Sofie, I’m 17 years old, from Norway and currently live in Wichita, Kansas. Last week I went on an unforgettable trip to the Island of Oahu, Hawaii with CCI Greenheart! My self and 19 other exchange students from all over the world (plus two awesome chaperones!!) lived on Camp Mokule’ia, on Ohau’s north shore, roughly one hour away from Honolulu.

One of my favorite things about the trip was that we lived pretty far away from all the tourism in Hawaii. All 22 of us lived in a pretty small cabin right by the beach with four bedrooms, two toilets and two showers. You could say it got pretty crowded in there and there were some fighting over showers at times, haha. However, living so close with each other made the whole group so close and we all became really good friends, really fast! It really wouldn’t be the same if we lived in a hotel or even just in a place packed with tourists.

Another thing I really loved about living at Camp Mokule’ia was that we got to feel that real spirit of Hawaii and also meet native Hawaiians (we also went other places with few tourists and more locals) which I personally thought was very cool and interesting. We learned several new words and their meanings and how Hawaiians are very concerned about the environment and also in touch with their “spiritual side”. Hawaiians are also very welcoming, cool and laidback, which I think is great!IMG_2769

We had 5 whole days on Hawaii and they flew by because they were jammed packed with activities and trips around almost the whole island of Oahu. Some of these activities included: Snorkeling, surfing, volunteering (trust me, this is so much fun), hiking, beach-time, free time at the camp, greenheart workshops, catamaran cruise and more! We were literally DEAD when we crawled into bed every night (which weren’t particularly comfortable, I might add, haha).

To finish of my blog I want to talk a little about volunteering and the greenheart workshops! Honestly, I was a little skeptical when I saw that we were going to volunteer, I had never really volunteered before this trip. However, it really took me by surprise how much fun it was! It felt so rewarding to see the before and after of what we did and just to know you really helped someone or something! That feeling was really awesome, and volunteering is something I would love to continue to do in my host community and when I come back to Norway!

Every night we would have these “Greenheart workshops”, were we would discuss and reflect on our day, go over high and low points of the day, play some games and discuss different and important subjects. These workshops made it easier for us to get to know each other and made us really close, super fast! We talked about huge world problems like war, equality etc., cultural differences and more! It really opened my eyes and really made me think.

Sofie in Flower DressTo end my very long blog entry I need to say that this was really fun and an experience of a lifetime! Something I’ll never forget! I can truly say that I have learned so many new things about Hawaii, greenheart and even myself and just life in general. I´ve also made friends for life, both exchange students and our leaders Stephanie and Andrea! You guys are seriously awesome, thank you so much. We are in a circle that never ends!