EDGE Mentee Highlight: Going International with Whitney Vance
Meet Whitney Vance. She has been involved with EDGE for about a year in Lisa Schmitz's group.
She graduated from IU Bloomington in 2010, double majoring in International Studies and Anthropology.
Some fun facts about Whitney: she loves to experience other cultures and really enjoys snowboarding. She's currently teaching herself how to cook... so if anyone has easy recipes, be sure to connect with her on LinkedIn and send them over.
Enjoy the interview!
First things first, tell us about where you work and what your role is there?
I serve as the Director of U.S. Operations at the Center for Global Impact (CGI). CGI is a non-profit ministry that seeks to empower the poor, protect the vulnerable, and share the Gospel through vocational training programs and business development. Working in Cambodia, most of those we serve are victims of-- or vulnerable to-- human trafficking.
It seems like you have a heart for International missions work, is that what lead you to Center For Global Impact?
Yes, what stood out to me about CGI from other international missions organizations was that it seeks to train and empower people so that they come to realize their true potential and inherent value given to them by God. Often times people in developing countries have lost everything, or have very little, and don't know how to better their situations. If you can teach them a viable skill, like sewing or cooking, that they can use to provide for their families, it gives them hope for the future. We also get the opportunity to share with them why we do the work that we do... so they come to hear about and see the true eternal hope that they have in Christ.
You’ve been there for nearly 5 years, that sort of longevity at one place is rare for someone in our generation. How have you seen the organization grow and change in your time there?
Oh my - every year at CGI brings more exciting changes! CGI was very young when I started there, and it's been a pleasure and a challenge to grow with the organization. I've seen it grow from 3 full time & 1 part time US staff and 1 full-time Cambodian staff to 5 full time & 2 part time US staff to over 30 Cambodian staff. I've seen our byTavi seamstress team grow from 12 women to over 40 and our Culinary Training Center grow from 8 students to over 40. I've seen the lives of the women in our programs become more joy filled and hopeful, and I've seen that infiltrate their families and communities as well. God is at work in Cambodia!
It seems like you've done a bit of international travel, tell us about your favorite experience traveling abroad?
Oh man, it's so hard to choose just one! My most life-changing one was probably my first to the Peruvian Rainforest. I remember meeting the people from the village living off the land's resources and it just blew my mind! They seemingly had "nothing" and yet they seemed content. It was very eye-opening in regards to different people and cultures. It's where my real passion for international work and people began!
Where else would you like to travel and why?
I would love to travel to Germany-- that's where my family is from. My grandfather was 2 when his family moved to America right before WWII, I would love to meet my family that's still there!
What do you love most about working for Center For Global Impact?
I love that I know that whether I'm sending emails all day or having meetings, that it's for the purpose of sharing the Gospel with those in Cambodia. Day to day, I love the variety of work that I get to do.
How can people become involved in supporting CGI's mission?
People can become a student sponsor by going to centerforglobalimpact.org. They can also purchase the handmade product made by our women by finding "byTavi" (here's a short video about byTavi) on Facebook or visiting our Boutique in Franklin. People can also host their own in-home show to tell the story of CGI and sell products.
Changing speeds, could you tell us about why you decided to join EDGE and what impact it has had on you?
I decided to join EDGE because I know that I have a lot to learn professionally and personally. I wanted to have a group of people to talk through challenges with and find encouragement. I've been blessed to be put in an amazing group of women that have helped me grow in these ways over the last year.
What are you looking forward to most with your EDGE group in 2016?
I'm looking forward to deepening our relationships and learning from one another. I love hearing the other perspectives and thoughts in our discussions, I learn so much from these wise women! Iron sharpens iron :)