Thank you for selecting me as a participant of the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP). It was an honor to have a chance to improve lives of children in South Africa and a great pleasure to be a part of such an amazing international team.

I was quite pessimistic about my chances to be chosen as a member of the CIIP; however, I decided to apply because I enjoy helping others and learning new things. I still remember the moment I read the email from the Celanese Foundation that I was selected for CIIP South Africa. It was a unique feeling. On one hand I was happy to go and work on improving the lives of children but on the other hand I was not sure that I was good enough. Am I good enough for teaching and skilled enough for construction? I couldn’t know all of this in advance, so I decided to be open to challenges ahead and do my best. Despite my fears, this trip exceeded all my expectations.

I am very grateful to Celanese for supporting us every step of our journey. Everything from trip planning, to safety, to our well-being, the activities and volunteering projects were well organized. The Celanese Foundation team took care of all aspects to make this experience truly unforgettable.

The greatest joy of this trip was working with the children. Despite most of them living in a very poor area, they were the happiest and the friendliest kids I’ve ever seen. I will never forget teaching elementary students in Mathematics and completing physical exercises with preschoolers. From working with children in Nomzamo, I learned that people can be happy with what they have, and that community matters more than materialistic things.

My second greatest experience was meeting other CIIP participants. I felt quite awkward at first because we were complete strangers. We didn’t know each other and we had a bit of a language barrier. But after only a few short weeks these “strangers” became my dearest friends and some of the best people I know. Even though we came from different parts of the world, we shared a common goal – to make a difference in the lives of these children – and I think we succeeded. Although it is hard to see immediate results with teaching, our construction project was a complete success. I will not forget the teacher’s reaction after she saw the makeover for the first time. She had tears in her eyes and we saw firsthand that we reached our goal.

I cannot determine the full impact we have had in the community in two weeks; however, I am certain that participating in CIIP impacted my life in many ways and I returned home a better person.

Once again, I would like to thank Celanese and the other members of the 2017 Celanese International Impact Program in South Africa for making this experience unforgettable. Also, I would like to encourage every member of our Celanese family to volunteer and make a difference in their communities and the lives of others.

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of three blogs by Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) team members who served for two weeks in Cape Town, South Africa.