The brainchild of the Alliance for International Exchange, J Day is 'is a nationwide celebration of the power of international exchange.' International participants of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program are encouraged to 'eat, play, and give' alongside their American counterparts. Our professional au pairs had so much fun giving back to their community and learning about the American culture at the same time.
Area Director Kris shares,
"We had a great day volunteering to do preservation work at The Historic Village at Jerusalem Mill which is part of Gunpowder Falls State Park. Jerusalem Mill Village was once the center of a thriving 18th and 19th century Quaker settlement. Today, the mill and village are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and regularly hosts living history events.
We started our day at 10 am with an introduction by the staff and a quick history lesson on the village. The village is maintained mainly by volunteer work and the organization was very happy to help us participate in J-Day.
We split into three groups – one group did some painting of the old general store's deck and steps, one group hiked about a half mile into the wooded trails and dug a drainage canal to keep the paths clear and the last group created, cleared and planted flower beds in front of the Old Mill House.
The Friends of Jerusalem Mill arranged for a wonderful picnic lunch to be donated by a local restaurant, the Sunshine Grill. After lunch, we were given a tour of the Old Mill House where our guide shared the history of the area and the purpose of the mill. At that point, we parted ways. Some of the professional au pairs went to care for their host children while others stayed and enjoyed the area."
Professional au pair Carolin enjoyed volunteering, sharing,
"Besides spending the time in great company, I got the possibility to learn about an area I have never been before. I think others should participate in volunteer activities because it is a way to gain work experience and skills as well as getting to know the area and community you live in. Community service is a great way to help others, support the community and meet new people."
Area Director Kris already looks forward to the next J Day!
"I enjoyed many parts of our volunteer experience. Some highlights were bringing an international group together to share our American history, spending our day together working to keep a historic site running in our modern world, and seeing visitors enjoying the work we were doing. J-Day was very fulfilling!"