Lifestyle » Vol. 1

International House Volunteer Opportunities

By Christine R. Walsh

When was the last time you volunteered at the local soup kitchen or delivered food to neighbors who ­­­­were unable to leave the house? Have you donated your time at your town’s elementary school or served orange juice and cookies at a blood drive within the last few months? If you can’t remember the last time you volunteered your time, you aren’t alone; the number of Americans who volunteered in 2006 was a mere 26.7% of the population, according to a U.S. Department of Labor Press Release.

You may have made a New Year’s commitment to further help your fellow man, but could not find a place to start. The International Center of Worcester can help turn that now-distant resolution into a reality with its fantastic volunteer opportunities.

The International Center of Worcester (ICW) has dedicated itself to strengthening international relationships and allowing the residents of the Worcester area the chance to better understand the vast world around them.

Royce Anderson is one of the many people who helps run the programs offered at the ICW. Through the Sister City Program, for example, Worcester residents can meet and greet people in their Russian sister city, Pushkin. Russian visitors come to the United States to experience the food, the land, the culture. But Anderson admits he and his dedicated staff at ICW cannot run program by themselves.

“The host families are the most important part of the program,” said Anderson in a recent interview. “Visitors come into other people’s life styles. We ask that the host families do not treat the visitors as special guests; we ask that they try them like family. Even give them chores, rake the leaves!”

Anderson works to make certain the Russian visitors who come to America have comfortable homes where they can stay, learn and get a taste of life in the United States. The host families open their homes and their hearts to their new friends, but receive a great deal in return.

“The deepest bonds are created in this way,” says Anderson. “And [the staff of ICW] is always available to help break through any language barriers. I even take calls at home!”

Acting as a host is not the only way one can volunteer at the ICW. Anderson always welcomes people ~ from college students to retired individuals and everyone in between ~ interested in donating time in the administrative office located at Clark University. The filing, organizing, researching and last minute phone calls made by the volunteers enable the programs of the ICW to run smoothly.

“The more a volunteer can manage himself, the better,” Anderson says. “We really benefit from people who can see what needs to be done and then take the initiative to do it. We love people who have interest in other cultures, who enjoy meeting people other countries.”

Whether you’re opening your home to an international friend or opening a computer file at the ICW office, there are many ways in which to help this organization and have an amazing experience in the process.

For information on volunteering, contact the International Center of Worcester at 508.793.7626 or online at

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