Reflections from Box’s Sameera Salari

Box is a company that prides itself on the connectedness and productivity that good technology can bring to the day-to-day lives of our users. Along with other volunteers from companies like Visa and Facebook, three Boxers were able to deliver on this vision to some of Vietnam’s most underserved citizens. Liz Tacy, Lauren Ziskie and Sameera Salari spent two weeks volunteering their time as part of an Act 10x initiative; you can read more updates below.

Orphan Impact is a Vietnamese non-profit that focuses on supplemental education in technology, professional development, and career skills at orphanages. The kids range from ages 8-17 (though the kids younger than 8 usually spend the whole lesson time watching from the window, excited for the next year when they’ll be old enough to join the classes) and range in experience from some orphanages where they’ve had computers and computer classes for a while, to kids who used a computer for the first time just two weeks ago while we were there.

Before heading out on the trip, we (the Box volunteers, along with the other volunteers involved) built curricula in subject areas requested by the Vietnamese teachers. The topics covered included Design Thinking and collaborative problem solving, Public Speaking and professional development, and technology basics. Once we were actually there in Vietnam, we spent some time setting up the 30 Chromebooks that were provided as a result of the fundraising we had done. Additionally, we kept pretty busy with teaching the Vietnamese teachers the curriculum we’d developed, but what was even better was when teaching turned into a collaboration effort to make the best lessons possible for the kids. The Orphan Impact teachers were a true inspiration to us all; it was wonderful to see such loving, passionate and dedicated educators, bringing knowledge, patience and affection to the kids in every second they spent with them.

We were able to see this very clearly as we traveled through the Mekong River Delta with the teachers, visiting three of the orphanages and observing as the teachers delivered the lessons we had built together. During these visits, it was incredible to be able to get to know Vietnam, its food and countryside and warm, smiling peoples. Despite not speaking Vietnamese, we were able to form beautiful friendships and moments, using the universal languages of laughter and half-embarrassed gesturing.

We come back to Box feeling inspired, and proud to be part of an organization that supported us through doing something that we found to be truly important and compelling. Without the support of all our fellow Boxers – whether in the form of time, donations, or cookies – we would never have been able to have this experience.