After two very busy and productive days in Beijing, I traveled together with our China CSR manager C.Y. to visit our operations in Chengdu and the surrounding area. Intel has been operating in Chengdu since 2005, and we have around 3,000 employees there at our assembly and test facility. Our Chengdu operations have gotten a reputation both internally and externally in the local community for our strong employee volunteerism culture, which became more critical following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake which devastated much of the region, wiping out hundreds of towns and taking over 80,000 lives.For the past two years, I have learned about the earthquake and the recovery efforts. But it was another thing to see the devastation and the rebuilding up close. My colleague Henry, our community affairs manager in Chengdu, took me to visit a town that was destroyed by the earthquake, and is being preserved as a memorial to those who died. Truly humbling to think of the hundreds of towns like this one that were destroyed and the survivors who had to rebuild their lives and mourn those they lost. We also visited a newly rebuilt town nearby, rows of brand new white townhouses with countless newly planted trees, many with plastic wrap still on them to protect them from the frost. In the days following the earthquake, Intel mobilized our volunteers to assist with needs in the immediate aftermath and with financial assistance (see video for details.) But more importantly, the local CSR team also moved quickly to collaborate with other companies, government officials, aid organizations, and educators to plan for contributions to the long-term recovery needs. The resulting project was called the “i-World” project and involved installing 200 e-classrooms in schools located in the earthquake zone. Thousands of schools were destroyed during the earthquake and had to be rebuilt. The new e-classrooms have been installed in the newly rebuilt schools with the help of Intel volunteers. Importantly, teachers at the schools have received technology training through the Intel Teach program to ensure that the full benefits of the e-classrooms can be realized. We were able to tour one school with the principal and two teachers, meet students and visit the e-classroom, which the teachers reported is used continuously throughout each school day for the different classes. In addition to touring outside Intel, I also spent time inside Intel. During my time at the Intel Chengdu site, I had the chance to meet with a number of my colleagues there and also tour the new garden area we recently built on the site. We had a recognition event for a number of our volunteer champions to thank them for their contributions during the past year, including their work to develop and lead ongoing volunteer projects, from participating in the i-World volunteering events to working in the farmer community information centre to participating in a mentoring program. One of the keys to our success in our employee engagement, are people like Henry who spend a great deal of time understanding the local community needs and thinking strategically about where we can have the greatest impact, combining the expertise and passion of our employees with Intel technology applications. And perhaps most importantly, Henry is committed to getting more employees engaged and maintains a relentless focus on making sure that our employees’ efforts and leadership in the community are valued and recognized throughout the organization. I’m also excited by the work he is doing to take his expertise in building a culture of volunteering outside Intel, partnering with the city government and other local companies to identify best practices and build a broader volunteer culture in Chengdu. We also had the opportunity to visit the farmer community project I mentioned above-a new community being built by the government for rural farmers to provide an opportunity for them to could come together and jointly live and farm, while having access to a community center featuring a health center, library and community information center (donated by Intel). Intel employees regularly volunteer at the center, helping with the computer lab and also planting a new orchard on the site. And finally, yes, I did also get to visit pandas, which have always been a favorite of mine since I was little. In the nursery area, I was facinated by the seven baby pandas all sleeping in the grass in the late afternoon sun and some very rambunctious red pandas chomping on bamboo and chasing each other up and down the trees. Walking through the beautiful preserve, I was taken by the sign at one of the area entrances, “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.” – Baba Dioum. This quote was a perfect way to end my visit to Chengdu – a reminder of the critical importance of sustainability and the need for continuous learning and engagement everywhere we operate – from my home site of Arizona to the other side of the world.
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