CommonBond member Paul Hinckley was part of the company's annual Impact in Action Trip to Ghana. As other members have in past blog posts, Paul reflects on what he learned on the trip.
When I found out that I would be going to Ghana, I had no idea what would happen on the trip. Though I had refinanced my student loans through CommonBond, I had only a superficial understanding of the company's Social Promise, as well as what Pencils of Promise did and what their relationship with CommonBond entailed. Still, the only motivation I needed to get excited for Ghana was being told that I won the trip—after all, who wouldn't want to visit a place they've never been before?
It turned out that my excitement was well founded —each moment in Ghana was incredible. What stood out to me more than anything else, though, was every single person's sense of gratitude. I was personally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing trip—as were the other CommonBond members and employees who came along—and everybody we met expressed their sincere joy at what CommonBond and Pencils of Promise have been able to do in their communities.
We spent time in three different rural communities—Agbakope, Adaklu Henakope, and Oseikrom. Each day we met with local leaders and townspeople and got to take part in what Pencils of Promise was doing—whether it was visiting a new school, attending an inauguration for one that was just opening, or even helping build one that will play an important role in children's educations in the near future.
Personally, I felt a bit like an imposter taking credit for so much of the hard work. Before arriving in these communities, all I had done was refinance my student loans through CommonBond and submit an essay to a contest. My experience had only been one tiny part of CommonBond's contribution to Pencils of Promise's impact in Ghana and even though I worked hard on the school build, I had not earned the level of gratitude these wonderful people were giving me. Now that the trip is over and I am back home, though, I consider it my responsibility to earn it.
After experiencing firsthand what CommonBond and Pencils of Promise have done and continue to do, I was blown away. I have worked with several non-profit organizations in the past—one of which I even helped found—and I have never seen this level of impact or such an incredible and sustainable model. I love how incredibly simple CommonBond has made it to make a meaningful contribution in the world while being an easy way to refinance and save money.
I have decided that I will do everything I can locally to support Pencils of Promise and their mission and I'm going to start by pledging my birthday—Pencils of Promise helps donors set up fundraising pages so friends can support the organization in honor of their birthdays. I am so excited to get started!