Staff Spotlight: Claire Ferguson

Programs Director
Claire grew up traveling. From riding horses in the Egyptian desert at age 9, sailing between Indonesian islands at 12, to a lifetime of moments getting lost in the chaos of India... being on the road was the only way to roll! She believes in the power of travel to expand us, to humble us, to change us forever – and wants to spread that passion with a world wide community of ethical backpackers!

Claire from Operation Groundswell

What is your favorite travel memory?

Sharing lunch with the leaders of the APCASA coffee cooperative in Santa Anita, Guatemala. This resilient and innovative group of ex-guerrillas disarmed following the civil war in Guatemala, but did not lose their passion for revolution nor their drive towards sustainable and equitable community infrastructure. Hearing stories of their struggles and their successes over chicken, tamales, and locally grown coffee (during a torrential rain storm!) is a memory I will never forget.

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

If I could go on any program we offer, I'd choose the Tanzania: Social Innovation Program. Having never travelled to East Africa, this program is high on my bucket list! Not to mention that Tanzania offers such a wealth of exploration: from the Sarangetti, to the Usambara mountains; diving in Zanzibar, weaving through the streets of Dar es Salaam and visiting Masai villages is something I've been dreaming of since my first days with OG.

Mapping out Travel

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

At Operation Groundswell, we know that we aren't perfect, and that we can always improve. Our growth and development strategies are inclusive of all voices: from partners, to participants, program leaders, we are always ready to do what it takes to better act in solidarity, to better integrate into local communities, and to better explore the concepts and structures we're trying to challenge.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Trust!! Operation Groundswell would not be able to work if we didn't trust our participants to take to heat, our Program Leaders to pave the way, and our regional staff to be the voice of our partners on the ground. Working worldwide, across time zones, cultural and language barriers, and relying on decent internet connections, trust and love (and WhatsApp) keep our family together.