Summer Work Travel Paves a Positive Future

By: Joe Burns, Greenheart Exchange Work and Travel Services Director

The first thing I noticed when I arrived in Asuncion, Paraguay was the streets, lined with blooming Jacaranda trees, which are native to South America. The view was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and that vision, alone, would have been worth the trip. Yet, my love for the country grew the more time I spent there, and my first impression of Asuncion was only amplified by the locals’ hospitality.

I learned quite a bit about Paraguay and the local culture during my visit. Paraguayan culture has its roots in the indigenous Guarani ethnic group, and Guarani heritage is a great source of national pride. Not only is Guarani one of the official languages in Paraguay, but it is also the name of the currency! Guarani influences can be found in many other places too. For example, Paraguayan cuisine has a lot of barbecued meats, similar to what you would find in neighboring Argentina! However, the food is typically accompanied by rice, manioc, or corn, prepared with Guarani seasonings and techniques, making it uniquely Paraguayan.

During my visit, I also got to know many of Greenheart Exchange’s associates working in our partner’s office in Asuncion. Together we volunteered at a local orphanage and hosted a kick-off event for the brand new Summer Work Travel alumni association in Paraguay. Close to 100 former participants were present at the event! I felt incredibly fortunate to meet so many wonderful people, many of whom shared stories about how the Summer Work Travel experience changed their life and helped pave a path for their future. The following day, I had the opportunity to meet future Summer Work Travel participants at a job fair. I couldn’t help but share my excitement with them that they had the opportunity to partake in this experience, following the amazing stories I had heard the night before. I cannot wait until December when our host organizations will get to welcome them to the United States for a life-changing experience they will remember forever.

Have you ever wanted to explore a new country for the summer while working and learning about the local culture? The Summer Work Travel program could be for you! Learn more about it, and the ways it can open up new paths for your future.