I was ready for adventure when I joined Celanese, but I had no idea that shortly after joining my career would jump start with a trip to the other side of the world. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be the project manager for the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) leading 2 volunteer teams to India in 2017.

Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) teams, in April 2016, I informed you of your selection to participate in the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP). For each email that followed, whether it was confirming logistics or answering questions, I was also implicitly asking each of you for your trust, flexibility and patience. We would be navigating India together; and if that wasn’t enough of a culture shock, I was simultaneously figuring out a culture you already knew, Celanese.

There were so many components to think about. My first project at a new job and, although CIIP had happened before, the new structure would take you a little further outside your comfort zone. Participating in the volunteer work was life changing; working in an early childhood education center in Dharmsala and with a women’s empowerment group in New Delhi, but the trips would not have been successful if it weren’t for each of you being able to work as a team, lean into discomfort and open your heart to everything India offered. It was amazing to watch two women, one from Germany and one from China, create a lesson plan to teach a computer software program written in English for teenage boys who speak Hindi. Or to watch a team figure out how to transport a tire to an education center to then create a tire swing. Or the ultimate in cooperation where six women from five countries shared one bathroom.

Thank you for the crash course in cultural sensitivity, intercultural communication and humility. Overwhelming at times, these trips were by far the best on-the-job training I could have possibly imagined. Not only was I able to learn about Celanese from an organizational standpoint, what we create and how we create, I was learning firsthand from Celanese’s biggest asset – you. Thank you for trusting me, teaching me and inspiring me.

Read more about the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP).