Every year we are inspired by the stories of volunteering and community service we receive from our au pairs. Monika volunteered with many different organizations, but her most meaningful experience was working with the Colorado Mountain Club. She learned more about her community, she learned about more America, and she learned more about herself:
For me, the most important part of volunteering was being a member of the Colorado Mountain Club. It gave me the opportunity to meet amazing people, crazy climbers, hikers and backpackers. It gave me so many ideas for trips, and for life! Being part of this community, I also learned so much about Americans. I don’t know any other nation where people care so much about community, volunteer work and changing the world for the better. I was really surprised how big a part of people’s lives community service is. It’s amazing how people who are studying, working, and having families can find time to serve others.
The most memorable moment from volunteering for me was a four day conservation trip to Mount of the Holy Cross Wildness Area in July 2014. We hiked about five miles up to 11,000 feet with backpacks, tents and tools. We set a camp and spent four days hiking (up to 12,000 feet!) and building hiking trails. Spending seven hours a day working at high elevations, moving rocks and protecting the tundra changed me so much. I met wonderful people of all ages, I learned respect for nature and appreciated the hard work volunteers spend every year to prepare public land for hikers.
After all of it, now while I am hiking I see the trails different than before. All steps, they are not random rocks laying next to each other; they are patches prepared by volunteers for all of us to hike and enjoy the beauty of nature.
The magic of helping others is how much we receive back. As Ghandi said, we can find ourselves in the service of others. I am a Scout Leader back in Poland, but helping here in Denver, building hiking trails, protecting nature from degradation, and teaching others in the U.S. helped me to find out what I want to do in my life. I am studying law in Poland, but now I know that outdoor education will be a field on which I want to focus for the rest of my life.
For all she did giving back to her community, Monika was the recipient of both our National Au Pair Community Service Award and the State Prize for Colorado. Congratulations, Monika! Thank you for representing the best of cultural exchange and Au Pair in America. See more photos from Monika’s trip with the Colorado Mountain Club and read about the volunteer experiences of the rest of the 2015 Community Service Award recipients here on our site.