Skill Sharing in Costa Rica
Published on December 18, 2018
McCann Birmingham Account Director, Laura Buckley was selected as a member of a communications team of 10 volunteers from across the McCann Worldwide UK offices, which has spent two weeks in Costa Rica working with international youth charity, Raleigh International.
The McCann employees have been passing on their communication skills to help inspire, mentor and motivate local volunteers who will be the next generation of youth leaders in their communities.
Here’s her story.
How did you get involved in this project?
The opportunity came about as part of McCann UK’s ‘Out of the Office for Good’ initiative. Partnering with Raleigh International, it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Costa Rica and share the communications skills and expertise we use in our jobs everyday with local volunteer youth leaders so they are empowered to be even more effective in raising awareness for their own campaigns in their local communities.
It appealed to me as it provided the opportunity to try to make a difference on the ground as well as challenge me. I had previously volunteered as an English teacher in Ecuador so was keen to build on such a rewarding experience and the OOO Good project provided a great chance to do so.
What was the process for selection?
The invitation for volunteers was open to all employees across the McCann UK offices. I had to complete an application form and prospective candidates were then selected to go forward to a final stage in London. All finalists had to give a presentation on why they wanted to be involved and the final team of ten was chosen by a judging panel made up of senior McCann UK management and Raleigh International. I was one of the lucky ten to make the trip.
What did you do in Costa Rica?
We were based at the University of CATIE in Turrialba. It was a pretty full-on fourteen days. The McCann team devised our own training sessions that we used to mentor and teach the Raleigh International National Society members who will be the next generation of youth leaders in the country. Typically we would run two sessions each day and covered a multitude of communication-related topics including, campaign ecosystems, social media, creative ideas, production and presentation skills.
In the evening we had responsibility for the entertainment which was a challenge with limited resources. But we put on salsa classes, held a ‘Scottish’ night and devised a games evening, which all went down very well with the students.
Two particular highlights of the trip were a visit we had from the British Ambassador to Costa Rica who came to find out about the project, and an awards ceremony we held at the end of the two weeks. We awarded ‘Goodies’ to the volunteers we had worked with. It was a terrific way to complete a memorable fortnight.
We also had one free day and the McCann team went rafting together, which was great fun and a wonderful chance to bond even further.
How did the volunteers react to your teaching?
The volunteers impressed me from day one with their motivation and commitment. Throughout the programme they were hungry to learn, were fully engaged and participated with real enthusiasm. They were already creative when we first met them, but after our trip, hopefully, they also have the frameworks, tools and models to unleash their creativity and make even more of an impact in their community.
What did you get out of the experience?
I have gained an experience I will treasure forever. I feel so proud of everything we have accomplished together and it fills me with so much joy seeing how the volunteers have progressed and it has been really rewarding. I believe the programme will have a lasting impact on me both personally and professionally. I made a number of really good friends, while I also had to become a leader. Back in the office, I now feel more confident about my ability to coach and mentor people who look to me for guidance, as well as working with diverse teams so I can support them with my skills and knowledge.
Can you sum up your feelings about the OOO Good partnership with Raleigh International?
It exceeded all my expectations. It was great to be part of a committed team which has tried to make a difference. I can only applaud the efforts of charities such as Raleigh who strive to work with young people in their local communities and help them make the most of their potential. I would urge anyone who has the chance to take part in such initiatives to make sure they do so, it really was fantastic.