What is your favorite travel memory?
Traveling with my partner in Guatemala, we woke up early for a hike to a nearby lookout overlooking a volcano. When we reached the top, I proposed to her! After spending a minute thinking I was joking, she said yes. Then, while descending, I started feeling a little queasy. I thought it was just nerves but, nope, it was food poisoning! I spent the next day on the toilet but my new fiancee stuck with me the entire time. That's when I knew this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
When I started working with OG, our whole team was a bunch of student volunteers. I've really had the chance to grow up with OG. I've learned what it takes to be a leader. I've learned how to have the tough conversations. Most importantly, I've come to understand that all we can do is make the best decisions we can with the information presented to us. We have some control, but we are just as often swept up in the variables.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
We've had many participants leave our program with a great respect for listening. Listening to each other and to our partners and communities we work with. One participant came home and developed an organization that provides healthcare equipment to communities in northern Ghana. Her first task? Asking doctors, nurses, patients, and administrators what are the top 10 pieces of medical equipment that would make the biggest difference in their lives. Now her organization has grown, and has improved the access to medical equipment for over 2 million Ghanians each year.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
OG programs never pretend that the impact we can make in two weeks will radically change the livelihoods of the communities we work with. We are upfront about how our goal is to learn something, and that by working in partnership with a community, it'll mean we can learn that much more. I'm proud of our team nearly every day. I've never worked with such a thoughtful, committed, competent, and absurdly hilarious group of people in my life.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I think there tends to be very little ego at OG. When we make mistakes, we own up to them, we publish them so others in the field can also learn from them. We try to capture feedback from EVERYBODY. From partners, participants, Program Leaders, staff, members of the board, and everyone in between. That feedback is responsible for the success we've had as an organization today!