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.