Boston, MA (PRWEB) August 18, 2009
10 participants from four countries, all employees of Flagstone Reinsurance traveled east to Siem Reap, Cambodia to volunteer at a local orphanage and school for two weeks.
The group was led by Ian McKillop, Flagstone's Deputy Risk Manager. This was McKillop's second time leading a Flagstone employee volunteering program, organized through Boston-based non-profit United Planet.
What started as an idea that came to McKillop after reading an article on international volunteering in Canada's Globe and Mail, has now turned into a Flagstone legacy with full support from the company's CEO, David Brown. Last year, "Flagstone Without Borders" traveled to Las Quebradas, Costa Rica with United Planet for its initial foray.
"After last year's Quest to Costa Rica, I had a tough time trying to figure out how I would pitch such a worthwhile endeavor for a follow up year. Luckily, our CEO David Brown was so impressed with the turnout, camaraderie, and overall project that he graciously asked 'Where to next year?' without us even having to ask!"
Adding to the trip's success, both McKillop and the Flagstone Without Borders Quest were recently highlighted in National Geographic's "100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life", published in early summer 2009.
Flagstone's second Quest brought 10 of the global reinsurance company's employees together for meaningful service at a school in a small community outside Siem Reap. McKillop told United Planet, "The projects were fantastic. From building a classroom, desks, and plastering and painting the wall at the English school in the mornings, to teaching English and working with orphans in the evenings, [the Quest] proved to be a very rewarding experience."
"[The children's] powerful will to learn and better themselves was overwhelming, especially in comparison to the starkness of the classroom they were sitting in," said Alison Thomson, a Human Resources Administrator at Flagstone's Swiss office.
Flagstone team members also organized games for the kids and pooled their deposit money together to purchase volleyball and badminton equipment, pizza, coloring books, small games and goodies.
To show their appreciation, the school held a traditional Cambodian dinner and dance in the group's honor. School children, teachers, directors and members of the local community were all in attendance.
The Quest was filled with days of hard work and manual labor, but the group also spent some time enjoying team-building exercises and local excursions. Flagstone Without Borders team members received blessings from Buddhist monks at a Siem Reap pagoda, visited a silk farm, rode elephants and toured the Angkor Wat temple complex (an UNESCO World Heritage Site). The entire group experience built a lot of camaraderie among the participants, who work for Flagstone in offices spread across four different countries.
In addition to exploring the local culture and the meaningful service the group provided, many of the participants felt that they gained new perspective. "I think the biggest lesson I learned so far with United Planet is a big dose of humility and how to leave all the artificial additions in my home life behind and get the best out of HERE and NOW," shared Thomson.
"There's a lot of learning and education through visiting the temples, and also learning about what it's like to be an orphan, teaching English as a foreign language to help the kids work in tourism. For them, speaking English gives them such an opportunity to go out and find a better job," explained McKillop.
Upon returning from Siem Reap, McKillop drafted a 15 page report reflecting on how the experience impacted the group and the local community. "Similar to last year, writing a report for such a project is a difficult task. [. . .] I realized such projects should not be measured in terms of participants, but rather by the size of the effort and hearts of those participants who gave their time, blood, sweat, and tears to make this year's Quest an overwhelming success."
Four group members were repeat participants, and "similar to last year, were incredibly moved by the experience," said McKillop. "It was great to see people from last year take part in this year's Quest. In my opinion, this is the true measure of success of such an experience."
Flagstone is a firm supporter of corporate social responsibility and is dedicated to its employees' job satisfaction and professional development. Opportunities like the United Planet Quest allow Flagstone to address both, making a meaningful difference in the lives of its employees and also in Quest host communities. "We are all very proud to be able to work for a company which supports such worthwhile endeavors. Having a CEO endorse such an initiative demonstrates the Flagstone culture to the fullest extent," added McKillop. "These trips meet our goals and provide great team experiences for our staff," affirmed Brown. McKillop was also happy to share that with "all the enthusiasm and buzz generated after the trip," Flagstone is now "looking companywide at what we can do to keep the service alive."
About Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings Limited
Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings Limited, through its operating subsidiaries, is a global reinsurance and insurance company that employs a focused and technical approach to the Property Catastrophe, Property, and Specialty reinsurance and insurance businesses. Flagstone Réassurance Suisse SA has received "A-" financial strength ratings from both A.M. Best and Fitch Ratings, and "A3" ratings from Moody's Investors Service. Island Heritage and Flagstone Reinsurance Africa have received "A-" financial strength ratings from A.M. Best.
The Company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FSR" and the Bermuda Stock Exchange under the symbol "FSR BH". Additional financial information and other items of interest are available at the Company's website located at http://www.flagstonere.com.
As an international non-profit organization, United Planet (UP) strives to create a world in which all people understand, respect, and support one another. United Planet's global network of leaders and volunteers fosters cross-cultural understanding and addresses shared challenges to unite a community beyond borders. For more information, please visit: http://www.unitedplanet.org