My Corporate Service Trip with School the World.
Victoria Stephens, Flywire
I stepped out of the van and stood in the warm Guatemalan sun as I waited to enter the local school in the rural community of Chuchún...
I could hear the upbeat sound of marimba music and children laughing as the group and I walked towards the school’s gates. As I turned the corner and stepped over the threshold, the enthusiastic sound of an entire community cheering erupted around me.
Overwhelmed by the gracious welcome, I held back tears as I walked through the sea of teachers, children, and their families. This warm welcome was the start of an incredible week with my work colleagues from Flywire and three other corporate groups; Ivywise, International Medical Group (IMG), and Envisage International. Our diverse group of workers partnered with School the World to make a lasting impact on education in our community.
Our corporate trip with School the World involved building 3 classrooms for the students of Chuchún to provide them with additional space and resources. Prior to our arrival, the school had just 2 adobe classrooms for 7 grades and 2 recreational spaces in need of repair. The poor conditions of these spaces posed a great risk to students and faculty while making it difficult for the children to adequately learn. Our plan was to build 3 new classrooms, add a playground and renovate the recreational space.
Day one we set to work with enthusiasm. We started off digging holes for the playground equipment and moving large rocks into one pile in preparation for construction. Other tasks throughout the week included mixing cement, painting, and planting shrubs. We worked feverishly throughout our days, bonding with our fellow corporate volunteers. With a common goal to finish in time for the dedication ceremony, we pushed through obstacles and fatigue to ensure that the community could utilize the new space as quickly as possible.
In addition to the construction work we did, each day we played with the children during recess and spoke with the local community. Getting to know their lives and even visiting their homes, we formed a strong connection and learned about the local culture and life.
I visited the home of Norma, an active member of the community and one of the women overseeing the construction. Her house, where she lives with her husband and 3 children, is a 10 minute walk from the school. One activity she showed us was how to weave (hacer tejida) the traditional head scarf of the region called ‘cinta.’ It is woven with beautiful colors and worn for special occasions such as weddings and the school’s dedication ceremony! This craft has been passed down by the woman in Norma’s family for generations; she learned from her mother who learned from her grandmother. Norma takes special orders from the local community and makes them for the woman. We watched her expertly weave the colorful thread and pull it tightly to create an intricate pattern. She invited me to sit down in her chair and showed me how to do it, guiding my hands and instructing me.
It was a beautiful moment to experience and I admired the great skill that goes into handmade crafts. While playing with Norma’s daughter, Tania, I spoke to her about her life and dreams.
I am forever grateful I could meet everyone in Chuchún as well as the other corporate volunteers.
Being able to meet coworkers from other offices in person while collaborating on such a meaningful project has expanded my worldview and reinforced our company’s values of fulfillment and global collaboration.
Additionally, it was so rewarding to connect with the community and the experience allowed me to practice empathy while better understanding their needs and daily struggles.
We provided the community with new rooms and resources, however, they gave me much more than I could ever give them, teaching me life lessons and opening my eyes to the world.
Is your company interested in a corporate service experience where you get to network while also making an actual difference in the world? Learn more about School the World's unique Corporate Service Experience Here.