What is your favorite travel memory?
The beautiful thing about working with GIVE in a community as vibrant as Sop Chem is that everyday can be a favorite memory. That being said, our very first project in Sop Chem involved working alongside the community to build a freshwater tank. Before we could begin construction on the water tank, we had to connect the piping from the fresh water source 6km away and across the Namou River.
I remember sitting in the classroom jumping up from the sound of loud counting outside. The volunteers, students and myself quickly ran to see the whole village, all of the volunteers, and staff (about 300 hardworking individuals) collectively pulling a rope with one goal: to provide access to clean drinking water. It was one of our first days in the village, but there was no cultural divide or reluctance, just two parties working together and dedicating sweat equity for the good the village.
This tug of war with the piping helped establish an everlasting connection and trust with the commmunity of Sop Chem. Like a storybook ending, we successfully connected the piping to Sop Chem and cooled off with a huge dance party in the pouring rain.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Working with GIVE has a monumental impact on my growth both professionally and personally. I am able to quickly adapt to situations of adversity. My leadership skills have grown. I thrive working cross-culturally. I didn’t think it was possible but my passion for education is stronger than ever. My classroom philosophy continues to develop stateside and internationally to be as inclusive, engaging, and as a beneficial through the use of asset-based pedagogical techniques. I can say I’ve met some of the best, happiest, and most inspiring individuals through GIVE.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
They say traveling is one of the best methods to discovering passion. I have no doubt in my mind that after a GIVE trip ever volunteer embarks in their next journey with newfound inspiration and passion for global citizenship. There was one individual in particular that came to Laos uninspired by college, not sure what he wanted to pursue in a career. After deciding to dedicate almost every morning and afternoon to working with the local students of Sop Chem, he discovered a passion for education. He is now pursuing a degree in primary education because of his experience in Sop Chem.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Laos. Hands down. Sop Chem is a small community, but it is filled with enough warmth, hard work, dedication, and fun to fill a city. Between working with the children, teens, and adults- the community is motivated to education. The artisans of the village, as well as their women’s co-op, is a fine example of female empowerment. Not to mention the lush views, misty mornings, tranquil streams, and mountain skyline is the most beautiful sight in the whole world. The community makes Sop Chem a home for everyone that visits in a way that only they can do.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
GIVE prioritizes working alongside a community - not above or below, but together through asset based community development. In order to supplement the daily activities, we hold restorative circles nightly to discuss the impacts, new perspectives, and to educate passed superficial understanding. I am constantly inspired by the staff’s equal dedication to the community and the volunteers into creating such a transformative and beneficial experience. We are all global citizens and “team human” and those who have experienced GIVE live through this philosophy.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I can not emphasize the importance of the ability to listen and respond to facilitate growth, in all aspects. GIVE is dedicated to ALL of the communities they work with and it shows through the constant team and local meetings. GIVE time and time again has shown that the communities we work in and the volunteers are always beyond satisfied. Passion, dedication, and the willingness to grow is the key to GIVE’s success.