As the Pure Good Team got on the bus this evening, there was an unmistakable spark of excitement. We joked as we stored our luggage and took our seats. Snacks were passed up and down the aisles and we took turns telling stories. There are 20 of us and we all come from very different perspectives. However, the one common thread is that we are starting a 5-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to a small orphanage in Khai Tri.
Over the past eight weeks, we have been working in teams preparing for our trip to the orphanage to work with the students. Each week, we have worked in small teams preparing a curriculum that we will use to teach the students valuable lessons. The materials focus on storytelling, problem-solving, computer programming and other important skills. Yet, we hope to leave the students with more than just textbook skills. We hope to leave them with life-lessons that inspire them to become the best versions of themselves that they can be.
Of the 20 team members, there are full-time employees from Kidspire and Team4Tech – two non-profit organizations. There are employees from my company, Pure Storage. The employees from Pure Storage were selected by the Pure Good Foundation to represent the company on this trip.
Some of the team members live in Vietnam, but most of us have traveled from various countries to be here (e.g., UK, Australia, Netherlands, and the USA). I traveled about 24 hours to finally arrive in Ho Chi Minh.
As I sat on the bus this evening and listened to the conversations quiet down, I realized how diverse we all are. We are a mix of male and female. We span a range of nearly 40 years in age. We represent nearly every corporate function – sales, marketing, support, engineering and so forth. Some of us are in entry-level positions and some are in leadership positions. We come from different cultures. We represent different religions. We have different political views. And many of us don’t even speak a common language.
We all arrived in-country three days ago and have spent the past few days finalizing our material. We have shared stories and bonded. We have come together as a team and now we are making the final five-hour bus ride to the orphanage.
As bus weaves its way toward Khai Tri, the conversations have died off and the driver has dimmed the lights. As I watch everyone slowly drift off to sleep, I am realizing that while we are dramatically different, we are all very much the same. It doesn’t matter what language we speak, or what our backgrounds are. It doesn’t matter what our business title is or what our net worth is. Tonight, we are all the same. We are all on a mission. We all have a common cause.
We are all looking forward to meeting the students tomorrow. We all hope to use our unique backgrounds, our unique perspectives, and our unique skills to inspire these children. We hope to have a lasting positive impact on fellow human beings that are no different than ourselves.
However, we also know that there is one big difference, and this is why we are here. These students need our help because they do not have the advantages that we have all been given. They need our help, and most importantly, they need to know that they are not forgotten. They need to know that people care about them. They need to know that we have come from all over the world to meet them – because they matter. They need to know that in the end, we are all the same and that we all matter, regardless of our circumstances. This is what inspires all of us.
And while the 20 of us have come to inspire the students, I am convinced that the students will inspire the 20 of us just as much.