In June, ten Celanese employees departed for Dharamsala, India to participate in the first of two Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) service events in 2016. The first group served for two weeks at an Anganwadi – an early childhood education center. Hear from our CIIP participants as they reflect on their volunteer service.
For weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how to express my feelings about the two weeks I spent in Dharamsala, India as part of the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP). It was so impressive that it’s hard for me to describe. It was already amazing to get the email that I was selected and I was excited by the thought of volunteering. Knowing that I would have the opportunity to try to make a difference in India seemed so unbelievable…but it was true.
After numerous vaccinations and a 24-hour-long journey, I arrived in Delhi where I met my CIIP fellows to start our life changing experience in Dharamsala. I can honestly say that our “American-Singaporean-Chinese-German-Indian-Hungarian cooperation” worked really well. We were all so different but somehow – maybe because of our differences – everything went smoothly and we worked together without any difficulties.
I remember all of the “firsts”…
- our brilliant cook Pawaan’s really delicious dinner and the taste of real Indian chai;
- the view from our balcony;
- the intense smells;
- the dozens of cows and dogs in the middle of the roads like they owned the place (maybe they do);
- the chaos in the markets, the crazy traffic and the constant honking;
- the heat and humidity… the heavy rains;
- the “roses and thorns” at the end of the day with the team;
- the unbelievably welcoming Indian people and their curious looks;
- the beautiful women dressed up in colorful saris and wearing bindis and so many jewels;
- the meditation with Lhakdor Lama in the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives;
- the moment I could finally see where His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, lives; the beautiful Golden Temple in Amritsar;
- and most of all, the happiness I felt when we met the kids (“Good morning, Didi!) and the unspeakable sadness when we had to say goodbye to them forever.
I will never forget my favorite and lovely Ridan who never missed showing me how to wear my scarf and his cute little brother, Obi; the forever mischievous Shiva; the little bit sad but excessively smart Shagun; the beautiful and chatty Trisha; and the extremely shy Shueta. It was a pleasure to spend two weeks with them, and although I was there to teach them, they gave me the best lesson ever – about the world and more importantly, about myself.
So I would like to thank Celanese and the Celanese Foundation for the opportunity and the support and Cross Cultural Solutions for making our volunteering experience more than memorable. Last but not least, I’d like to thank all of my CIIP friends from all over the world – Sara, Silke, Jillian, Kathy, Geoff, Sugam, Christy, Kathy, Cole and Laura. I hope to see them again soon!