In early 2019, IMG selected a team of employees to take a once in a lifetime corporate volunteer trip to Sacapulas, Guatemala with School the World. School the World is an organization that focuses on providing access to quality education for those living in rural areas of Central America.
Corporate volunteering has been a growing trend. The idea is that businesses offer their employees the opportunity (oftentimes special PTO considerations) to make a difference in their community or the world. Why would an organization be interested in starting or building such a program? People volunteer to contribute to something larger than themselves, which is a great way to deal with stress and increase happiness. An experience like this can leave your employees feeling refreshed and ready to dive into their projects when they return.
IMG encouraged their employees to apply for the School the World opportunity by challenging them to answer, in an essay format, “How will this experience help you better understand what it’s like to be in our customer’s shoes?” The selected team members represented many different departments including customer service, assistance, nursing, sales, account management and marketing. Having such a good mix of employee backgrounds was a great learning experience in terms of getting more in-depth knowledge about each department's influence on the company as well as forming new personal relationships. After being selected, the winners needed to fundraise to contribute to the overall cost of participating in the volunteer program with School the World. It took a lot of hard work, but the team hit their goal within 3 months.
On the first day of the week-long trip, the team traveled from Indianapolis, Indiana all the way to Guatemala City, Guatemala. The first night was a welcome dinner in Antigua, followed by preparation for the 5-hour bus ride to Santa Cruz Del Quiche. Santa Cruz was the nearest metropolitan area to the Sacapulas community in which they would build the school.
After a 2-hour bus ride, they were welcomed with open arms to the community. The children, teachers, and parents all prepared a welcome ceremony. The community performed songs, danced, sang the national anthem, and even cracked open a few pinatas to celebrate.
Once the celebration was over, it was time to get to work. School the World and IMG volunteers completed tasks ranging from digging, installing playgrounds, mixing and pouring concrete, masonry painting, and planting. Each day was something different, but it was all hard work. Each of the attendees would tell you, “This was not a vacation!” and there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into the project. Completing the daunting tasks like mixing concrete by hand gave everyone a new-found appreciation for cement mixing trucks.
In addition to getting to know and teach the kids, they also got to visit homes within the community. It was an eye-opening experience to see firsthand how the community members live; they were happy with next to nothing. The team left that day feeling extremely humbled and filled with gratitude for all that they have access to back in the U.S.
They worked up to the very last minute on the final day before the ceremony began to commemorate the completion of the school. The mayor came to visit for the dedication and the kids had smiles a mile wide as they played on their new playground sets. The parents and teachers were overjoyed with the new school. By the end of the ceremony, it was crazy to think that it was finally time to go home.
The IMG team traveled to Guatemala with the expectation of building a school, but they also came home with hearts full of incredible experiences. While the School will make an everlasting impact on the community for many years to come, the IMG School the World team will be forever impacted by this incredible corporate volunteer trip.
Anytime IMG employees travel internationally, they are thankful to travel with the benefits of IMG’s travel medical insurance plans. They were all covered with the Patriot Travel Medical Insurance plan just in case they experienced any unforeseen medical emergencies while in Guatemala. They got to experience firsthand what limited healthcare options are available in the many remote areas that they visited during the trip, which gave them peace of mind that they would be covered if they became sick or injured. If you are looking for coverage options, check out the products here.
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