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Studying America in exchange for service

Special Photo
Jakub Janousek, an exchange student from the Czech Republic, washed windows as part of a clean-up project at Radiant Church in McDonough March 9. Janousek, who attends Ola High School, is involved in various community-service projects locally.

Special Photo Jakub Janousek, an exchange student from the Czech Republic, washed windows as part of a clean-up project at Radiant Church in McDonough March 9. Janousek, who attends Ola High School, is involved in various community-service projects locally.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

McDONOUGH — A group of exchange students recently pitched in to help the community, despite being thousands of miles away from their own homes.

“We’ve been doing fundraisers, like making cupcakes and selling them,” said Jakub Janousek, 18, an exchange student from the Czech Republic who attends Ola High School. He has been in the U.S. for 7 months.

Janousek and several other visitors to the U.S. on March 9 helped the staff at Radiant Church in McDonough prepare to move to a new facility.

“Without this service, people would have to find somebody to pay for it,” he said. “I think it’s good to help people when they need you.”

Jackie Morgan, a local community service organizer with the Gwinnett Leadership Institute, is coordinating the volunteer efforts of 10 students in Henry County and other areas of metro Atlanta. She said the students came from countries including Denmark, China and Italy to study and get involved in community service.

“Most of the boys at Ola High have participated in cupcake baking as well to raise money for school athletics department,” said Morgan. “One student, Anna Lin (from Denmark) was on crutches but still made a difference by doing office work.”

Morgan has partnered in the past with groups including Hands on Atlanta, Hands on Savannah, Goodwill in Augusta, Alabama Medical Reserve, Atlanta Mission, the American Red Cross, local homeless shelters and food banks.

Morgan’s goal is for the students to complete at least 100 hours of projects by April 1 so they can receive the President’s Award for community service.

She said most college applications include questions about a prospective exchange student’s volunteer work and community service as criteria for admission.

“I was recently told a student applied for college with all A’s but was turned down due to no community service,” said Morgan. “Giving back also presses us forward. That is why we forge relationships in our community by making a difference, no matter how small.”