Denice Gonzalez-Kim was one of four CommonBond members selected to take part in our annual Impact in Action Trip in Ghana, and she's agreed to share her reflections with our readers. We will continue to publish stories from other CB members and employees who attended the trip.
When I first heard about the great work that CommonBond was doing, I was proud to call myself one of the many people who have taken advantage of the company's great student loan program. After learning more about the Social Promise, though, I knew I had to see firsthand just what kind of change CommonBond's partnership with Pencils of Promise was creating. Now that I've traveled to Ghana with the CommonBond team, I believe the company has created an incredible framework to affect meaningful and long-lasting impact in the lives of Ghanaian students.
As someone who has received a lot of support from nonprofits, I am sometimes skeptical about the intentions of some of these organizations and their volunteers. I was thrilled, though, to see how CommonBond and Pencils of Promise really put their mission above all else. I completely fell in love with the shared mindset of both organizations because the impact they make is positive, sustainable, and scalable. In fact, the most incredible part of the Social Promise is that the community is 100 percent invested in any changes that are made. Before any new school is constructed, the community agrees to accept the project and contribute 20 percent of the cost and effort that it takes to build the school. In addition, the teachers and leaders of programming abroad are all from Ghana.
The whole trip was amazing, but the part that stood out the most to me was when we traveled to Adaklu Henakope, a farming community of about 250 people in the Volta Region of Ghana. The community recently partnered with Pencils of Promise with the intention of building a three-classroom school and we were there to help with the construction. It was amazing to work hand in hand with the people of the community and physically carry dirt to the site. I loved it! After a hard day of work, the community members offered us fresh coconuts! We drank the coconut water with huge smiles on our faces. We then danced with the community members and laughed and rejoiced in the hard work we (volunteers and community) had completed.
In the end, my trip to Ghana reminded me of why I began my business school journey in the first place—because of my belief that business can be used to solve some of society's biggest issues. I plan to move forward with this knowledge in mind and will forever be grateful for this opportunity.
Thank you, Pencils of Promise, for the incredible work you do and thank you, CommonBond, for continuing to make a difference! I look forward to the work to come!