When it comes to educating the leaders of tomorrow, reinforcing the value of service and volunteerism is incredibly important. For our high school exchange students, volunteering is not simply about checking off a program requirement. It\u2019s about personal development, giving back to the hosting community, and building meaningful and lasting connections. Related: Project Help: The Importance of Volunteering\u00a0 About the ISE and Habitat for Humanity Collaboration As a part of ISE\u2019s Project HELP Initiative, our exchange students are required to participate in acts of community service during their time in the United States. For one recent project, Nikola Hus\u00e1rov\u00e1 (Slovakia), Pablo Goudel Tavares (Brazil), Mauricio Grado Sanchez (Mexico), Anna Sarah Demetz (Italy), and Martin Echevarria Amerigo (Spain) volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Jacksonville, Florida. HabiJax, as it\u2019s referred to locally, is one of the largest non-profit affordable housing builders in the community. It provides homeownership opportunities and housing services to families in need of assistance. This project was spearheaded by Martin\u2019s host mom, Jen Schreiber, a passionate volunteer herself. We spoke with Jen to learn more about the event and the effect it had on the students and the community.\u00a0 1.) What motivated you to volunteer to host a student? Honestly, it wasn\u2019t something I had ever thought of.\u00a0 I grew up in a small town in a rural area. We never had exchange students, so I didn\u2019t know any better.\u00a0 Being a military family we move often.\u00a0 In 2007, my neighbor in Texas had an exchange student from Switzerland who she hosted when he was 16. 15 years later as an adult he still comes to visit her multiple times a year.\u00a0 I thought \u201cwhat a fantastic thing\u201d and was a bit jealous of their bond. It was so genuine. Our family ended up bonding with him too, and he recently came to visit us in Florida with his fianc\u00e9.\u00a0\u00a0 When the opportunity to host an exchange student arose last year, my husband actually suggested it. He was getting ready to go to the Middle East for a long military deployment and thought it would be good for my son to have someone else in the home. I really think he wanted to keep me preoccupied.\u00a0 I\u2019m happy that we did it! It was nerve-racking to take on something like this but when our exchange student arrived it was a perfect fit.\u00a0\u00a0 2.) What do you think the biggest benefits of volunteer action are, and why do you think volunteering is important? I currently manage the volunteer program for our office.\u00a0 I\u2019m a huge advocate for volunteering. Many times we believe we are too busy or there just isn\u2019t enough time. That\u2019s just not true.\u00a0 Volunteering gives you and endorphins. That feel-good feeling that you did something for someone else.\u00a0\u00a0 Personally, I think volunteering is important because it allows people to bond.\u00a0 When we are in the digital world of \u201cface down\u201d in our phones, it forces you to interact with others.\u00a0\u00a0 3.) Why did you choose to get your exchange students involved with Habitat for Humanity (HabiJax)? Habitat for Humanity is a great organization.\u00a0 It helps lower-income families purchase homes at a reduced cost.\u00a0 What I like about this organization is that homeowners must also commit to sweat-equity hours to earn those homes.\u00a0 It\u2019s a physical job and when you have children ages 16 and over it\u2019s perfect because they are full of energy!\u00a0 4.) What did the students do during the event? Every HabiJax event is different since it depends on the stage of the home they are currently working on. For this event, we were assisting in building the interior walls.\u00a0 We were framing and it was lots of nailing and swinging hammers!\u00a0 5.) Did you notice any effect on the students as a result of volunteering at the event? Following the event, we all had lunch together.\u00a0 They were exhausted, sweaty, and stinky but the conversation at the table pertaining to volunteering was so genuine.\u00a0 They were very thankful and we discussed volunteering events they had done (or not done) in the past. The exchange students had a glow about them and were happy to have done their part!\u00a0 They were even asking when the next event was planned!\u00a0 If you would like to help an exchange student's dreams come true, we invite you to read more about hosting a foreign exchange student. If you have specific questions about hosting, check out our host family FAQ page. You can also read testimonials from our past and current host families. When you feel ready, complete our host family interest form and our area representative will get in touch with you. You can also get involved by joining our team of Area Representatives! Help match host families and exchange students and bring the world closer together, while making a supplemental income.