Dear Celanese,

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the 2016 Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) trip to Dharamsala, India. During our orientation with Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) when we arrived, the country coordinator told us that India was a land of contradictions. One of the fun things we did as a Celanese team at the end of every day was get together and discuss our highs and lows. I want to tell you a little more about some of the highs and lows to give you a sense of my experience in India and to help you see the contradictions we came across.







Low: Motion sickness

With the combination of narrow roads, steep mountain switchbacks, and busy traffic, I felt nauseous every time I rode in a car.







High: Meditation lessons with Tibetan monks

On the other hand, with Dharamsala being the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, we had the chance to learn more about meditation and gaining inner peace with the Buddhist monks there.







High: A shy child finally connecting with us

I always felt great joy and accomplishment when a child who wasn’t participating finally joined in the learning activities. I loved to see children open up and connect with us.







Low: Kids having accidents

Many of the kids we worked with weren’t yet potty trained and diapers are not used in that community, so we had kids wet themselves almost every day. We didn’t have plumbing or running water to easily clean up.







Low: Overwhelming poverty and few resources

It was frustrating to see the conditions and feel helpless to make a lasting change. Even though the time was very worthwhile, it definitely left me humbled and more determined to make a difference where I can have a more lasting impact in my own community.







High: Learning about a different culture

I loved that I was able to immerse myself in a totally new environment and learn about a different culture from my own. I was inspired by people I met and worked with.

Back in my cubicle in Dallas, Dharamsala feels like another world, but I will be forever grateful for the people I met and experiences I had there. It was so worthwhile to step outside myself and spend time serving. We are blessed to work for a company that includes projects like this in its core values. I would encourage anyone interested to make sure to apply for the CIIP in the future!

Laura Otto

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of 9 blog posts by Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) team members who served for two weeks in Dharamsala, India.