I received a picture from a group of my students that went out to eat for dinner at a local Korean BBQ place. Even though this may seem like a simple story, there was so much more to that photo. This group of students did not know each other at all before coming to their program abroad. They bonded, worked hard together, made friends with the locals, and had an amazing group dynamic throughout their experience.
The photo of them sharing a meal together, weeks AFTER their return to the US, made me realize how impactful these programs can be and create lasting friendships with people you would have never met before.
I have always wanted to go to Haiti ever since serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in their neighboring country, the Dominican Republic.
My organization offers service-learning programs to Haiti for university students focusing on health and environment; however, due to the current political climate in Haiti, we have not been able to operate there for a couple of years now. It is on my bucket list to visit Haiti and see with my own eyes the projects that 7 Elements have done there. Hopefully soon!
I love that my organization hires and works with a diverse group of people, both international and local. We learn, grow, and share with indigenous, native people in Belize, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. I am so proud that we have close ties with so many amazing, unique, genuine humans around the world that make our programs ethical, meaningful, and impactful.
Our relationships with these individuals are cherished by spending quality time with them whether or not we have programs running.
Communication across the board is always key - making sure your team is on the same page and everyone is caught up with each other, making decisions together and supporting each other on those decisions. I also think that believing in the mission of the organization is extremely important; how can you be successful and put your heart into your work if you do not follow the mission? I feel lucky to be with a company that has a strong mission tied to empowering locals to be sustainable on their own after we work with them.