Happy August! Now that summer is winding down, we’re thinking about back-to-school—and specifically, to college. This month, we’re talking about a new trend we’ve been seeing lately: Families taking special trips with their college-bound kids. And speaking of bonding travel, we’re also highlighting our recent retreat in Puerto Rico—including our top hosting tips. And finally, rounding out this edition is a great Q&A with Qatar Airways, which was recently honored with the distinction of “World’s Best Airline.” We hope the rest of your summer is fun and relaxing!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
When F1S Bogota staffer Angelíca Rodríguez began volunteering at La Cascada Escuela (School of the Waterfall), she never imagined that she’d get the entire First in Service team involved. After all, the tiny elementary school, located two hours from the capital in the rural city of Fusagasuga, wasn’t on many people’s radar.
But once F1S Helps, our initiative designed to give back to communities in need through travel, was recently launched, it made perfect sense to adopt the underserved school. As F1S CEO Fernando Gonzalez explains, “We’re a Latin-run company, and it’s important for us to give back to our roots. We have so many travel resources at our finger tips to help others.”
On January 30, a team from the NY headquarters flew to Bogota armed with boxfuls of donated clothing, shoes, backpacks and school supplies for each of the 63 students ranging in age from 6-12. Sofia Gonzalez, our 10-year-old Children’s Ambassador, gave the project her seal of approval by helping to collect items. She also created a video to share with the children, since she was unable to make the journey to Colombia herself.
Upon arrival the F1S group was given a tour of the two-room school, which is in need of major repair. The ceiling leaks, disrupting class and lunch hour every time it rains. The teachers do not have adequate school supplies, reducing the chances for the children to receive a proper education. And for many of the children, their uniform is the only clothing they own.
Gabrielle Olson, who manages the program, notes, “In only a matter of three weeks, we were able to collect an unbelievable amount of clothing and school supplies in New York that made a huge difference in the lives of these children. One staffer alone anonymously donated backpacks for every single child.”
The next step is to repair the school’s leaky roof and build an indoor play space. For more on the heartwarming trip to La Cascada Esquela, watch the video below.