South America, Europe, Asia – and this year, Africa. Now that the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) has achieved a global reach, let’s celebrate what we’ve accomplished through this program.

I remember back in 2013, when CIIP was launched. The whole company was incredibly excited about the opportunity. One month in such an exotic country as Brazil – you could really make an impact! The application process took several weeks and included writing essays, personal interviews – and even creating your own project video in the final round!

When the finalists arrived to Uberlandia, Brazil, they really had to challenge the boundaries of their comfort zones. Quickly overcoming the obvious cultural and language difficulties, the three sub-teams worked hard on their commitments to the three chartiy organizations Celanese was supporting Estacao Vida – an early education  children center for low-income families, Casa Betesda – a hospice foundation, and SOS Women and Family – an institute that supported  people who experience domestic violence, mostly low-income women. As Alex Kennedy, regional product manager OMSD in Amsterdam, remembers:

”Our focus was creating a sustainable volunteer retention strategy for the organization with the help of a toolkit of colorful activities and actions such as newsletters, blogs, social media posts, holiday cards, gifts, regular team-building exercises and public events. I am convinced that homegrown, organic solutions that are gradually implemented have a higher likelihood of success than ‘big’ solutions applied ‘top-down.'”

Watch the 2013 CIIP video.

Read more about Alex’s experience.

In 2014, we just could not wait for the next CIIP edition to commence. The moment I learned that the new venue was Łodz, Poland, I immediately knew I had to apply. I contacted last year’s participants for advice and put a lot of effort in creating a legendary application video. And all of us a sudden, I was there with 9 other Celanese colleagues from all over the globe! Having spent time in Poland in my childhood, I did not encounter any kinds of ”culture shock” at all – I was even familiar with the local cuisine! The team was divided into three groups, supporting two charities: The Łodz STROKE Foundation; GAJUSZ, and , a governmental Organization MOPS (Municipal Center for Social Welfare).

I was a member of the team working with GAJUSZ – a hospice foundation providing care for terminally ill children in Poland, primarily in Łodz. We were supporting the marketing team by designing a professional CRM tool and a fundraising strategy. Our experience with these people was so incredibly complex that I could hardly summarize it in a few sentences. The moment I will never forget was our last day, after presenting them the results of our work. They were hugging us with tears in their eyes, asking us not to leave.

2016 – India. CIIP slightly-altered. Two cities, two organizations, two teams, two sessions, each two weeks long. So I asked – wait for it – two partiCIIPiants sharing about their journeys:

Steve Brandtner, product engineer, Narrows, Virginia, United States

”The 10 of us spent two weeks in New Delhi, India. I was assigned to work for a group of women learning how to sew, and as part of the ’empowering women’ concept, I taught them conversational English. It was so rewarding to see these women starting to come out of their shells.  They became more confident with time, and were happy to see me and my partner every day. They enjoyed our classes so much, that in the end, we both received presents to remember them by.”

Read more about Steve’s experience.

Sara Pannierselvam, laboratory technician, Jurong Island, Singapore

“My CIIP trip to Dharamshala, India focused on educating children from lower-income families between the ages of five and 10 at their schools. I had to realize that schools in many parts of India lacked several basic facilities, like desks and chairs for studying, so they simply had to sit on the floor during lessons and even at lunch breaks. Yet we had a splendid time teaching them basic English, counting numbers and even how to brush their teeth! Those kids had so much of fun and enthusiasm! They appreciated every single effort, participated with joy and never failed to put a smile on our faces in return.”

Read more about Sara’s experience.

We all agree, that this program gave us memories we will never forget and experiences that have made us who we are today. We are grateful for the opportunity to combine our everyday work with our passion and commitment to improve the world.

We are looking forward to news and updates from this year’s team!