Earlier this month, 10 volunteers converged at a location at the end of the Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) supply chain: two factories where jeans are made in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Joining this small but dedicated group of volunteers—LS&Co. employees from across the company who engage with factory workers to learn what their lives are like outside of the factory walls and to better understand how LS&Co. products are made—was Project WET Senior Vice President John Etgen.
John traveled to Cambodia to train the LS&Co. Service Corps to use Project WET’s water education program to interact with each other and with local children. In all, the 10 Service Corps members along with five local teachers and five factory workers learned how to best teach kids in the classroom. The group then visited a local school and taught them about water using hands-on, interactive lessons.
John said that his best memory of the trip was seeing the volunteers doing such a great job teaching the students, and having the teachers laughing and enjoying the lessons as they watched their kids.
“At one point, when older elementary students were working with the volunteers, younger students—Kindergarteners and first graders—were jammed into a classroom and asked to wait until the others were done,” John recalled. “To pass the time and keep the kids engaged, I was able to lead ‘The Thunderstorm’—an activity that simulates the sights and sounds of a thunderstorm using just the kids’ hands and feet—and engage them in learning about water!”
Also at the school, John joined the Service Corps volunteers to install handwashing stations outside the classroom with the help of a local NGO, Rainwater. Even though it was hot and muddy, John said it was “great fun digging holes and mixing concrete to create safe places for kids to wash their hands”.
John’s work with the Service Corps is part of LS&Co.’s larger commitment to water and water education. By 2020, 100 percent of LS&Co. corporate employees will be trained as Water Ambassadors using Project WET water education materials.
LS&Co. has been sponsoring the Project WET Foundation since 2015. Earlier this year, company leaders made a commitment at the White House to use Project WET to train 100 percent of their employees about water and sustainability by the year 2020. To learn more about what LS&Co. and Project WET are doing together, check out these stories:
- How I Use Project WET: Educating Employees and Customers About Responsible Water Use
- LS&Co., Scholastic and Project WET Team Up to Provide Water Education to 1.5 Million Students
- Levi Strauss & Co. Teaches Water Sustainability At “Kids Take Over Day”
- Community Day Heroes
- Levi’s Employees are Science Teachers for a Day