Every year, ISE exchange students participate in community service projects with the purpose of showing appreciation for the communities that open their hearts and homes each year. ISE’s community service program, Project HELP, provides an opportunity for students to get involved in their host communities while providing valuable support for local residents.
In past years, students have volunteered at community food pantries, animal shelters, community clean-up events, senior homes, and much more. In addition to the satisfaction of giving back to their host community, many students find that these volunteer experiences introduce them to new activities, friendships, and passions.
Why does ISE believe in instilling a dedication to volunteerism and service within our students? Here are 5 reasons…
1. It Opens Students Up to New Experiences and Perspectives
Volunteering allows exchange students to connect more deeply with members of their host communities. They also develop technical, social, and academic skills that couldn’t be learned in a classroom environment. For our exchange students, it also places them in situations that force cooperation and communication in a friendly, appreciative environment – allowing them to make new friends that much easier.
Neven, from Montenegro, is showing his true volunteer spirit by giving back to his community to help with Hurricane Irma relief efforts.
2. It Helps Students Establish New Connections
No matter the situation, the ability to build relationships with people is crucial. Volunteer work not only shows who you are as a person, it also reflects the many positive character traits that people will remember. In the realm of cultural exchange, this means creating and promoting real, positive associations with people from around the world. These personal interactions reinforce our mission of bringing the people of the world closer together.
Jingling for a good cause! ISE students participate in the Jingle Bell Run, which supports the Arthritis Foundation and those living with arthritis in their host community.
3. It Gives Students the Ability to Support and Help Others
We believe that volunteers create better environments for others. They create healthier communities, promote friendship and cooperation, and brighten lives. Our program is made possible due to the volunteer spirit of the families who host an exchange student, so encouraging that same sense of giving in the students we sponsor just makes sense.
ISE exchange students cooking for a cause at Ronald McDonald House in Richmond, Virginia
4. It Provides Students with a Sense of Accomplishment
Volunteering isn’t always easy or glamorous, but it is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. Volunteer work makes us feel good, builds self-confidence, and lifts up the spirit.
Jesus, from Spain, is a volunteer with Maryland’s Civil Air Patrol (CAP.) CAP is the official auxiliary of the US Air Force and supports America’s communities with emergency/disaster efforts.
5. It Brings About a Sense of Gratitude
Charity work gives students opportunities to thank the communities and the individuals that welcome them. They are given the opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation of the exchange experience in real, tangible ways. This allows them to reflect on the kindness that has been showed to them and the experience that they’ll never forget. Many studies have proven that the key to happiness isn’t money or material things; it’s gratitude.
Myeong, who organized and volunteered at a local food drive, went above and beyond her community service requirement