Instructure Cares: CHOICE Humanitarian Edition


It’s a wonderful thing to be able to pursue your passions in both your career and your personal life.

It’s been almost a decade since I’ve joined the CHOICE Humanitarian family (as both a participant and Trip Leader) and, coincidentally, I’ve been at Instructure since almost the same time, 9 years. I’m so grateful to work for Instructure and am thankful for the “Instructure Cares” program that offers employees flexible time off to participate in charitable activities big or small. I’m reminded of a favorite quote by Albert Einstein, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” My connection with both organizations is nothing short of miraculous and I’m incredibly honored to be a leader for both. I’d love to share how I use my Instructure flex-time to give back with CHOICE.

I love CHOICE’s approach to reducing world poverty. All initiatives are driven by locals themselves and receive support from the locally-based country director and CHOICE headquarters. Support may come in the form of training, funds from corporate partners/monthly donors/individual supporters, or service-oriented expeditions. As a group, participants travel to a rural community to experience rewarding work, lots of play, adventure, and connection. The work spans a variety of projects from constructing classrooms, stoves, or medical facilities to helping plot gardens or trenching water systems. One of the things I love about CHOICE is that the project is an opportunity for intercultural exchange. After every trip, I come home with new perspectives and deep connections to people on the other side of the globe.

Here are a few of my a-ha moments: 

On my first full day in the Kenyan village, Dzisuhuni, I sat down next to Umaji and we began making dolls together. The children and Umaji laughed with me at my inadequacy in making a doll from fabric scraps, but my grandmother would be proud to see how I reached into the recesses of my mind to use some thread to sew on some eyes and a mouth. Providing these dolls at school encourages young children to attend and enjoy school with the hopes of increasing retention. 

Our most recent project in Kenya was to build a school. Although the project was important, the intercultural exchange was equally as important. Participants connected with locals as they dug ditches together and drove miles to the quarry to bring back supplies. This intercultural exchange helps visitors to expand their global perspectives. 

Access to quality educational opportunities is a human right. Young women drop out of school after reaching maturation for a variety of reasons, including lack of access to feminine hygiene products. Special shoutout to Days for Girls and volunteers who create hygiene kits so girls have supplies needed during menstruation.

Lessons Learned

  • Change is hard. Change fatigue is real. Thanks to colleagues at Instructure, I could relay Change Management strategies and understandings to the headteacher and teachers in the African village.
  • I’m in absolute awe of CHOICE’s locally-based staff. Their boots on the ground ensure that resources and impacts are maximized. Their dedication and commitment to alleviating poverty inspire me to be a better human. 
  • People are more alike than different. We have our struggles and our challenges, but we’re all doing the best we can. And when we look at others and assume positive intent, the world becomes a much kinder place. 
  • Life and projects can be overwhelming. However, when we show up to support one another and when we open our hearts to receive support, life is so much easier. Sometimes we just need to show up, for ourselves and others.

I’m so fortunate to do work that matters (both for Instructure and CHOICE). Both organizations are driven by the desire to make the world a better place. I’m incredibly grateful to work for a company that supports employees' wellness and wholeness. A company that has a mission in education but also believes in giving back.

If you’re interested in joining a company that provides the opportunity to live its core values of openness, relationships, equality, ownership, and simplicity, check out our current open positions

Guest Article by Director of Talent Management, Deonne Johnson. 

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