One of the most special parts about working at Disney is feeling a sense of community—no matter where you work or what job you do. To see this feeling in action, you need look no further than the dedication of our Disney VoluntEARS. For more than 30 years, Disney employees have donated their time and expertise to making lasting, positive impacts outside of traditional work environments to support and strengthen local—and even global—communities.
Anthony Eng, senior financial analyst, Disney Interactive, was able to do just that last fall by participating in Disney’s first-ever Global Service Project. Joining an international group of Disney employees, Anthony traveled to a remote area of Ecuador to support a local village. And as he explained, the experience truly expanded his own sense and definition of community.
“One of the most valuable and enlightening experiences was partnering alongside local Ecuadoreans and my fellow VoluntEARS to build the foundation of a classroom in a remote rainforest community,” he says. “It was truly gratifying to see how everyone came together, both from Disney and the local community.”
Although the VoluntEARS built a classroom for both current and future generations of students, the community gave Anthony and the 29 other VoluntEARS an intangible yet significant gift: the meaning of the word minga.
An age-old tradition in the local culture, minga represents a gathering of community members—regardless of age, gender and ethnicity—each coming together to complete a task that benefits everyone. “The local Ecuadoreans would go out of their way to help their friends, family and community out of the pure goodness of their heart,” Anthony explains. “This concept can sometimes be so easily forgotten in our modern times.”
Working alongside the local community members, VoluntEARS hauled bags of rocks and gravel, mixed cement and built columns for the classroom’s foundation—a process that simply would not have been possible without everyone joining together. “Community members young and old, men and women, appeared out of nowhere and helped carry the heavy loads of rocks and supplies. This especially touched me because it showed the dedication of the local community members to help see the project completed,” Anthony adds. In the end, the concept of minga even helped to overcome language and cultural barriers as the group worked to bring the overall project to life.
For Anthony, minga is something that he will forever keep in mind, both at work and at home. “After just spending one week in the Amazon, I realized we are dependent on each other. Volunteering with an open mind and open heart, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, benefits any community more than we realize,” he says.
To get a glimpse of this concept of minga in action, check out the latest Disney Friends for Change video above.