When I first found out I was selected for the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) 2016 project to Dharamshala, India, I was very delighted and filled with so much excitement. I knew right then how lucky I was to be able to travel to this beautiful country that is so diverse, filled with lots of great culture, religion, food and people. Adding to this, I was very happy that I had gotten a great opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life and be able to give back. Making a difference, regardless if it was big or small, was my goal. To top it all, I was going to volunteer with a group of our very own like-minded Celanese representatives from all around the globe. Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much, and I was looking forward to the trip with great anticipation.
Upon reaching India I was greeted by our friendly Celanese CIIP team. In no time we were all warmed-up to one another and looking forward to our volunteering assignments with Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS.) The CCS staff was welcoming and catered to our needs with great hospitality. I got the chance to meet and mingle with other volunteers collaborating with CCS too. I remember how all of us understood the definite purpose for being there and the commitment we had.
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.