Teaming Up to Make A Difference

Guatemaltecos Extraodinarios, one of Cross-Cultural Solutions’ work assignments in Guatemala City, is a community school for children of families who work at the local garbage depository. Guatemaltecos Extraodinarios is located next to a bus station--smog and dirt flow from there into the school affecting students. CCS stepped in to provide volunteers at the site to build a dust deflector.

Corporate Executive Board (CEB), now Gartner, sent ten of their employees to Guatemala City with CCS to participate in meaningful service while getting the opportunity to bond as a team. In just one week, their team was able to build a solid dust deflector that would protect the children and prevent smog from blowing into the school for years to come.

Matthew Shinkman and other members of the group blogged their experience in Guatemala--see Matthew’s experience through his eyes!

Matthew Shinkman Practice Leader of CEB, now Gartner:

Maicol. Roberto. Carina. Maria. Osveli. The names and faces of the kids we worked with last week are still swirling in my head; it felt all too soon that we had to come back home and return to our lives. It’s been a particularly special and emotional feeling hugging my kids since I came back, knowing now just a little bit about what those “Guatemaltecos Extraordinarios” go through every day. As a group, I think we are all wondering how this experience will affect us going forward and how we’ll apply what we learned. I’m doing my best to find a way not to get so swept up in the cut and thrust of the daily routine—work, school, after-school activities—that I lose sight of the experience we had. I’m hoping to spend some time sharing photos and stories with my team at work and with family members, and I’ll definitely be encouraging anyone within earshot to do something like we did if they ever get the opportunity. It was so humbling and inspiring to see the good work being done in Guatemala City by the Guatemaltecos Extraordinarios school and those supporting the school, and I feel very proud that I was able to contribute a little bit to that good work last week.

It was also sad to leave the beautiful country of Guatemala. We were all blown away by the massive presence of the volcanoes, the beauty of the countryside, and the gentle kindness of the people we met. Guatemala is a country with many very significant challenges—economic, social, infrastructure, and others—but the people we met all seemed to be approaching those challenges with a sense of optimism, and their resilience in the face of those challenges was really inspiring.

I also made some great friends. We at CEB tend to think of the company as having a strong culture and a great group of employees, but it really helps bring that home when you meet a collection of peers from all over the world for the first time and see what impressive, friendly, and passionate people they all are. We were definitely a motley crew at times—we had different perspectives on what we were seeing, different responses to the situations we found ourselves in, different preferences for what to eat—but we all became very close and I will look on my fellow volunteers as real friends for life.

I can’t forget to add my thanks, first to CEB, now Gartner, for giving me this extraordinary opportunity. It is truly inspiring to work for a company that doesn’t just say it values service but puts real effort and resource behind that statement. Thanks also to CCS, who organized a flawless trip and itinerary and prepared us very well for the experience. And finally, thanks to the staff at Guatemaltecos Extraordinarios and at the CCS Home Base for everything you taught us about life and living it.

Check out what more CEB, now Gartner, employees had to say about their incredible journey:

Vidushi Bhatia, Senior Research Analyst:

Sarah Venjohn, Associate Learning Designer:

Matthew Degrand, Contracts Manager

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