Namaste mera naam Cole hai, “Hello my name is Cole” in Hindi. In June Celanese completed its Celanese International Impact (CIIP) trip to Dharamsala, India. This was my first time traveling to India, as most of our team, and I knew it was going to be a unique experience. Our time was powerful, eye-opening and rewarding. I never imagined it would have impacted me the way it did.
It was 106 degrees Fahrenheit the day I landed in New Delhi before making the connection to Dharamsala. This was a completely new kind of heat, not what I am used to in southwest Virginia. After my arrival I went to a hotel and met with the only Celanese person I knew, Kathy Borhauer from Bishop, Texas. We only had conversations over the phone but never got the chance to meet in person. At the hotel, I quickly learned hospitality and friendliness were key elements of Indian culture, not just from the staff but from most Indian people we encountered. This comfort was welcomed in what was soon to be a trip filled with several discomforts.
During one of our later lectures, we would hear about how being on time is culturally not a high priority; the needs of family and friends come first, and that sometimes means being a little late. Taking the advice from the hotel, we left for the airport and quickly learned about timeliness. With five minutes before they were scheduled to close, I arrived at the gate. Here I met my family away from home: Kathy, Laura, Geoff, Sara, Jillian, Christy, Silke, Orsi, and Sugam.
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As part of Celanese’s International Impact Program (CIIP), I traveled in June with nine other individuals from Celanese to Dharamsala, India, a small city nestled in the mountains in the northeast section of India close to the border of Pakistan. Dharamsala is derived in part from the word “Dharma,” which has a number of different meanings including good works and other activities which are considered beneficial for society. Thus, it was a fitting location for volunteering.
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Being selected to serve on the Celanese Foundation Committee, and then joining families with the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky (ESNKY) and having the chance to Improve the World, has been an incredible experience that I will be proud of for the rest of my life. It’s caused me to reflect on the meaning of “family.”
It has also provoked me to think about what “families” mean. It’s not just doing a one-time volunteering event, but building an ongoing relationship with those in the community who we can help. This includes those who manage this wonderful life-saving facility at ESNYK and their overnight guests. In 2016 we have extended our relationships with ESNKY by doing a bowling night, which has become more than just a fun night out, but a real opportunity to build relationships of trust.
All of the hard work and dedication that comes with being a Celanese Foundation member is so rewarding, especially when I hear volunteers share their reflections about time spent with our “Shelter Family.”
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Dharamsala is a small town in India at the foot of the Himalaya mountains. Luckily I was picked together with nine other Celanese colleagues from all around the world to volunteer in a CSR project with kids between the age of one and five.
Emotional was this journey to a country and culture that is so different to my own life in Europe. The kids made me laugh and cry. The feelings that I had each day are very difficult to describe.
Adventurous were our taxi rides.
Rose and thorns were our daily evening rituals in which we described our daily highs and lows and learned so much more about each other, about our feelings, emotions and personalities.
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