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How Building a Home in Cambodia is a lot like Working at Cisco

14 colleagues. Habitat for Humanity. Cambodia. This was a recent volunteer trip we set out on, and our team name became Facta Non Verba. It means, “Deeds rather than words”. But I do have some words to share about the deeds we just accomplished in Cambodia.

As recruiter at Cisco, my job is to share our company with potential candidates in a way that will inspire them to joins us. It helps to share personal stories, and it comes so easy for me when I tell candidates about my time in Cambodia using Cisco’s Time2Give. What’s Time2Give? It’s an initiative in which Cisco provides employees five days every year to enable them to give back to charities and organizations of their choosing! From volunteering at your child’s school to efforts like Habitat for Humanity, there are a lot of great causes to give to.

For me, I knew I wanted to travel to Cambodia with Habitat for Humanity.

When you set out of these trips, you know you’re in for a host of experiences that will hopefully add to and enrich not only your life – but the lives of those you’re helping. Indeed, it was a very cool experience – but I had no idea that it was going to be one of the most amazing journeys in my life.

Here’s how building homes in Cambodia is a lot like working at Cisco:

1.Wonderful People: We met the most beautiful, welcoming, and grateful families for whom we built the houses for. The first thing they told us when we arrived was, “Till this moment I never believed someone would come from far away to help me.” This was my first “wow” moment on this trip. Their sincere, emotional and unbelievable faces welcoming us is something I will never forget, and through the entire week they always made us feel at home.

2.New Skills & Achievements: Our goal was always to build two homes during our week in Cambodia. But, we weren’t quite sure if this would happen as none of us had previous construction experience before. A local technical team, of course, guided us and I learned very quickly how to clean and chop bamboo, nail a bamboo floor, and make a balcony rail from – you guessed it – bamboo! I also learned how to saw wood, make cement, and paint! And by Friday, after many liters of sweat, we had two houses ready and we felt so accomplished!

3.Changed Lives: Having a home of your own is a life changing moment, and it was even more impactful for these two families – one of which had five young children. They struggle with lack of money, education, jobs, and future perspective – but in giving them a home we took from them their biggest worry – a roof over their heads. This moment also gave them hope, as they experienced that the world has people who are willing to help them and that the future can be much brighter than they ever imagined. This was another “wow!” moment for me during the week.

4.Friends: When I decided to join Facta Non Verba I remember saying, “I’m not going to make friends, so who is on the team doesn’t matter much to me.” Most of the people, I didn’t know before this trip. Yes, we all worked for Cisco, but that’s how it goes in a global company of 75,000 where so many of us work virtually. Now that we’ve shared this experience together, however, I am positive that we will be working well together in the future!

Initially, this was my only goal going into the experience – to work well together and build houses. We we did successfully! On top of that, however, we all became good friends. Friends I know that I may have for life now! I am so happy with that, and so glad that I have people that experienced the same emotions that I did and returned to the Netherlands with the same gratitude and fulfillment. It’s something we’ll share forever, and bonds us throughout Cisco.

5.Gratitude & Pride: I am very proud that together as a team we achieved our goal, but I am also very proud and grateful to work at Cisco – a company that supports my desire to give back to the world. I realize that I only can give back because I am very privileged person. I have so much: live in a safe country, have a beautiful and healthy family, I’m healthy and I work for a company that allows, encourages, and enables me to give back.

After returning home, it was a challenge to adjust back to my “normal, rich and easy” life. I wondered how come the world so different? Why do some have so much and some so little? I noted that many who have “plenty” seem unhappy, and those (like my Cambodian families) have so little but always seem so happy and content with their lives. I never want to forget that.

I’m still searching for the answers to some of these questions, but working for a company that makes it EASY for us to give back – and encourages us to do so – it is something I am honored to take part in. Our Time2Give initiative, enables Cisco employees to take our privilege and continue to seek opportunities to enhance our world and people’s lives.

How are you using your five days this year? Let us know in the comments below!

 


Want to work for a company that inspires you to give back? We’re hiring. Apply now.

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. Inspiring Celia!

  2. Great stuff Celia and thanks for sharing. We are blessed to work for a company that values sharing our blessings with the less fortunate using Time2give PTO.

  3. Really enjoyed reading this - heart-lifting start to the day. Best wishes, Katherine

  4. What an amazing experience and huge help to those who needed it most! Brings me back to my Up with People times, "One to One, we change the World..."Thank you for sharing, Celia!

  5. Love this, Celia! Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. This is a great read Celia - thanks so much for sharing! Excited to say that on Thursday 6th September I'll be helping out for the Environment Trust Nature Reserve at Bedfont Lakes along with some of my UK based colleagues!

  7. Awesome experience giving back to those in real need. Thanks for sharing your experience. #WeAreCisco #Time2Give #LoveWhereYouWork :)

  8. Hi Celia - nice write up - sounds like it was a transformational experience! Good on you - and Cisco for supporting and encouraging.

  9. Celia, what a great blog!! So happy to have shared the experience with you and like you said, it will bond all of us for life. :-) Glad I was able to organize the trip and hope to do it again next year!!

  10. Hi Celia, what a wonderful experience and thank you so much for sharing. It made me smile and this is my favorite comment... I noted that many who have “plenty” seem unhappy, and those (like my Cambodian families) have so little but always seem so happy and content with their lives. I never want to forget that. Best wishes, Linda

  11. Very nice words amiga Celia, it brings so many good memories.:-)

  12. Great article Celia - and amazing to read what a difference you all made. Impressive stuff.

  13. This is amazing! I'd love to hear more about this and how I might also get involved.