I want to thank you for the wonderful opportunity I had to participate in the Celanese International Impact Program trip to Dharamsala, India in June. I’m grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience in which I participated.
From the moment I met my nine teammates in India, I knew that the experience would be life changing. Although we were 10 people with vastly different skills and talents, it was amazing how we bonded immediately and had just what was needed in our daily work assignments – working with young children in five different Anganwadi’s (early childhood education centers.)
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much for the privilege of going to India for the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) in June. The things I got to see and experience have left me a different person.
I had never been to India before, and I found the country to be everything I had imagined and more. The sights and sounds and smells (both good and bad) were overwhelming at first. During the course of the two weeks there we learned not to be frustrated because the hot water wasn’t working, among other cultural differences.
While in India I found the people to be warm and friendly and loving. The children that we worked with in the early childhood education center were precious, and while the language barrier was difficult, we found other ways to communicate the necessities. It turns out that smiles are a universal language! By the time we left, it was so neat to hear them counting in English while playing hopscotch, reciting the ABCs and singing the songs that we taught them. I think I’ve sung “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” enough to last me a lifetime! They even taught us a little Hindi, even if it might have had a little bit of my southern accent!