Staff Spotlight: Elisabeth Baird

World Coordinator
Elisabeth Baird is a native from Southern California with a degree in Studio Art and Art education. She has worked as a field guide in wilderness therapy for four years, as well as worked with after school programming with schools in California. She enjoys traveling the world and learning from the people she meets along the way.

What is your favorite travel memory?

The first time I went on a trip with Village Book Builders, we stayed in the Mayan Village of Chican. The people there had spent 3 months making hammocks for all 30 volunteers who came to help install their library. I loved swaying in the colorful hammocks as night fell around our little concrete house, giggling with my friends till sleep finally hit us.

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

I have a better vision for what it can mean to make a better impact in the world. It’s about building up people more than it’s about building up a facility. When you give someone access to something like a library, they build themselves and then they build their community.

VBB invests in people. I love that.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

One college-age student loved her first trip to Ghana so much she brought her newlywed husband back on a second trip to build a library in Mexico a year later. That was pretty cool to witness as a member of the Village Book Builders Team. We love to see returning volunteers because we know they are experienced and bring that strength to each trip they go on-along with their awesome friends and family!

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

I would love to go and visit some of the libraries we’ve already built and see how the community is doing with them. I think it’s always lovely to see people you’ve worked with in these villages again a couple of years later and to see they are still growing, still dreaming and studying. It’s a really amazing thing to see!

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

I feel that our company is unique because of its focus on working with the local community to create a library they feel ownership of. I feel proud each time we meet a villager who knows the library is there for them and their children. That feeling of ownership and empowerment is the kind of long term legacy we hope to leave in each village we work in.

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

Good clear intentions, Organization, and a clear mission statement. I would say those three things are really essential to knowing your path forward as an organization. If you respect and love the people and then know why you’re there, and get organized about it, your trip is going to be amazing and hit home for the people you’re serving.