Nada Grkinich, Senior Director, Accessories Design, shares her experience as a Service Corps ambassador last year. The volunteer immersion program is a chance for global employees to see our Worker Well-being initiative in action, and to experience what life is like for apparel workers both inside and outside of the factory walls.
In many ways, my Service Corps trip to Sri Lanka this past September was what I had expected due to the extensive pre-work and education that we all completed ahead of time.
What I didn’t expect were the amazing connections that we made in five short days. Not only with the makers from the factory, but also within the local community — schoolchildren, teachers, translators — and, most importantly, with my fellow ambassadors.
The connections were on such a personal level. We were able to interview some of the factory workers and have in-depth conversations about family life, work life, children and cultural traditions. We spoke about the important impact Worker Well-being has had by helping them learn about saving and finances and were also very grateful to be invited into their home to meet their family and neighbors. The home we visited was shared by three generations of a family.
We also had two great experiences at local schools. In the first school, we instructed students (along with their teachers and translators) on Project WET, a curriculum that focuses on water sustainability solutions globally. In the second school, we volunteered alongside community members to help with some minor refurbishment of the exterior of the school. Afterward, we had some organic conversations with the children and teachers (and were asked by the students to take selfies — some of my favorite images from the whole trip!)
Five days went too fast. We all wished we had at least another week. But the trip is only the beginning of the journey. My fellow ambassadors and I are looking forward to continuing our work to further improve the lives of our makers and their communities.