Many of you have been requesting more posts related to the social impact work I do, so I am thrilled to share a trip to the field with Pencils of Promise. Thank you for those requests by the way – I love knowing what you all are most interested in! So here it goes…
As you may know by now, I am on the UNICEF Board and am Chair of UNICEF’s Next Generation in New York. I also started a social impact brand called The Starling Project. The Starling Project is a sophisticated candle collection where with the sell of each candle, we help provide solar energy to rural communities in need. We are able to do that by teaming up with organizations like UNICEF. The idea is light for light.
UNICEF entirely changed my life. My first field visit was the catalyst that ultimately led to my decision to leave Wall Street to pursue a career that involves giving back. My first field visit was with UNICEF to Vietnam. I was shocked by everything I witnessed in rural communities from the lack of hygiene to the absence of toilets and clean drinking water. I was even more shocked by UNICEF’s impressive solutions to these issues such as solar panels powering pipes for clean water. The people I meet on field visits inspire me to work hard every day to make a difference in this world.
This past week and weekend, I had the privilege of going on a field visit with Pencils of Promise, or PoP, to Guatemala. PoP is an incredible non-profit that helps build schools and provide primary education for children in rural communities in need. I was able to witness three of these schools during my trip. Two of the schools have been open for a few years and one just opened this past Sunday. We actually attended the opening ceremony!
Witnessing children who have been attending school for a few years express their gratitude for allowing them an opportunity for education was incredibly moving. They were so ecstatic to show us all they have learned. We sat in on WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) classes and the kids were genuinely proud to show us all they know. We did a hand washing exercise and I must admit they have it down – they were correcting me! We then helped repaint the school with the kids. It was so much fun!
At the second school we visited, we witnessed a teacher training program where teachers are taught curriculum as well as given feedback on their teaching. This is something that is incredibly important since quality teachers are the key to successful learning.
Finally, we attended an opening ceremony of a new PoP school. This community was far up in the mountains and our drive took hours, but it was so worth the long trip. As we pulled up, homemade fireworks exploded continuously and there were archways made out of leaves for us to walk through. They greeted us with gifts and dancing. It was incredible! The children of this particular community have never been to school before and likely have never even seen one, so this will be a definite game-changer giving them the opportunity to be literate and so much more.
In short, this trip was another life-changing experience reminding me not to take anything in life for granted. I am incredibly thankful Pencils of Promise included me on this field visit. For more information on Pencils of Promise or if you’d like to donate visit pencilsofpromise.org.