Alumni Spotlight: Ari Gabinet

Ari Gabinet, 55, is the chief legal officer of OppenheimerFunds, a large financial services firm in the U.S. Ari's office is in New York City, and he lives in Providence, Rhode Island; his wife, Christina Paxson, is the president of Brown University. He is an avid surfer, guitar player, and, since his volunteer trip working at an orphanage in Cartago, Costa Rica, maker of paracord bracelets.

OppenheimerFunds Team in Cartago

What led you to choose Cross-Cultural Solutions' program in Costa Rica?

Ari: CCS was selected by my company as its partner for our Volunteer program. WE chose CCS because it has a good reputation of working with organizations and of being very structured as to volunteer safety, selection of needy organizations, and providing meaningful experiences.

What was your favorite moment of the trip?

Ari: Making paracord bracelets with a ten or eleven year old at the orphanage, and watching him interpret the English instructions in the book more skillfully than I did, even though he didn't speak English -- he produced bracelets for lots of the kids.

Making paracord bracelets

What did you find most surprising about your experience?

Ari: The generosity of people who had so little, their willingness to share what little they had as gestures of friendship and appreciation for what we did for them.

If you could go back and do something differently, what would it be?

Ari: Try to arrange a program where I got to do more work, as our time was split between work and cultural immersion. I would also learn more Spanish and be more language proficient next time.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Ari: It actually makes me want to volunteer more. I realize that I don't have to go overseas to find people in need, but the combination of cultural and language challenges with the work was really rewarding.