Staff Spotlight: Anna Cunningham

Administrative Assistant
Anna has been with Operation Groundswell since the beginning of 2016, although she traveled with them to Southeast Asia as a participant in 2012! She assists in a number of areas in the organization, including program development and communications.

Anna from Operation Groundswell

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is from my time with OG in Southeast Asia (and no, I wasn't coerced to say that!). After meeting with an amazing organization called Tiny Toones based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, my group and I joined some of their staff to explore a night market along the river. Everything was lit up beautifully, and we ordered pizza delivery - to the cobblestone path we were all sprawled on next to the water. We had an incredible time getting to know the members of Tiny Toons and eating delicious pizza, and then all hopped on the back of motos and into tuk-tuks to spend the night dancing at one of their favorite clubs! It was one of those nights where everything aligns like magic, and you get to make new memories with great people.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I feel as though I've gained a new level of appreciation for the work that Operation Groundswell does, and the partners we have, now that I'm able to see the full scale of it. I've learned a lot about a wide variety of issues and topics in countries all around the world that I otherwise may not have been aware of - everything from political strife and environmental concerns, to human rights and traditional practices. This has also been helped by getting to know all of our program leaders, partners, and participants from all around the world.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I were to go on another program, I think I would choose our Peru: Mind and Body program! Peru is a beautiful country, and I've never visited South America. The program leaders have run the program a number of times, and know the region and partners inside and out! They're also amazing people and would be a lot of fun to spend over a month with. The program explores a lot of interesting topics and regions, and has some pretty incredible hikes, yoga, food, and partner work. Plus, since I've been working here, sand boarding has shot to the top of my bucket list...

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I think what makes Operation Groundswell unique is their commitment to ethical and sustainable travel. Anytime we're looking to implement changes, or add new programs, the top priority is making sure that what we're doing aligns with our values, and is still serving our participants and partners. I'm very proud of the work we do, and think it makes a big difference not only internationally, but in the lives of the participants - I know my program had a huge impact on my life, and I even made some friends who I remain very close with years later!

Related to this, I remember being especially proud of our team during a meeting session looking at the organization's future and objectives - there were a lot of different thoughts and opinions flying around, but everyone's priorities were very much in line with our Backpacktivist Manifesto. It's awesome to see everyone practice what they preach!