We recently announced the recipients of our 2019 Au Pair in America Community Service Awards, and we’d like to highlight the volunteer efforts of our first place winner, Martyna from the UK, who lives with her host family in Washington, DC. Wanting to get more involved in her local community and meet new people, Martyna sought—and found—the perfect volunteering position to suit her warm, outgoing personality: becoming a volunteer tour guide in our nation’s capital. In this role, Martyna had the exciting opportunity to meet people from all over the world, learn about their cultures, and share her own culture, all while immersing herself in American life and history. What an excellent cultural exchange opportunity for all!
Read on to learn more about Martyna’s experiences as a volunteer tour guide in Washington, DC!
“I was searching through all the opportunities online and had some trouble to find an ongoing thing that would fit my schedule. And then I saw an advertisement that my favorite non-profit organization that turns out to be an international hostel community is looking for volunteers who’d be tour guides in my city. Exciting? I was over the moon! And that’s how after a few weeks I officially became a tour guide in Washington, DC, for Hostelling International.
Since then I have met a lot of interesting people. Just this week I had an opportunity to lead a ‘Cherry Blossom tour’ and surprise, surprise, I got a Japanese tourist! Teaching her about American history with her country was quite funny for me, especially when I kept on mispronouncing the names of Japanese ambassadors. But what makes me laugh the most is when I lead tours for actual American people! Telling them all that information about their capital is just a great irony that I really enjoy. Also it’s very stressful since I’m terrified of making a mistake that they could notice!
What did I learn from volunteering with HI? Well, definitely the sense of responsibility without getting any material gain from it. There are days I’m very tired or just lazy and really would like to skip that tour. But then I realize that there are some people counting on me, some people who actually would like to participate in a tour and I have to respect it and give all of my efforts to make it happen. What helps is the fact that I know how disappointing it is to be a tourist and have your tour cancelled. I’ve been there and don’t want to put other people in that position!
And then I couldn’t forget about why I came here, to the USA, in the first place. To get to know the country! It amazes me that at this moment in my life I’m completely able to move around the capital of the United States and show to other people this amazing city. It also amazes me that I learnt so many facts about this place and I can share them with others. I think that if any au pair can do it about their place of stay, they could truly say, ‘I lived in the United States.’
Somehow this volunteering opportunity transformed me from a regular foreigner to a LOCAL. I am so proud of myself, for how far I’ve come with my English, knowledge about America and willingness to share it with others.”
We at Au Pair in America are also proud of Martyna’s efforts to integrate into her community and participate in American life to the fullest. Congratulation to our first place prize winner!
To read more about au pairs getting involved and giving back to their local communities, visit our Community Service Award winners page.