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This is no Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

May 18, 2017

That's not chocolate!

That’s not chocolate!

Instead, it’s the flooded Quililon, Nicaragua crossing following after rain in April…where our next Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) team will be building a bridge in June. Can you imagine crossing this river of mud to get to schools, markets and workplaces? Yikes!

Roula Terzian, communications manager for our next Nicaragua bridge build

Roula Terzian, communications manager for our next Nicaragua bridge build

Roula Terzian is excited and a little nervous about her first bridge build, where she will be communications manager. She joined CH2M 16 years ago and works as an inside sales manager. Born in Aleppo, Syria, Roula moved to southern California when she was a teen, so she is fluent in English, Arabic and Armenian. She’s had amazing opportunities traveling and living abroad working for CH2M, including combined 5-year assignments working on mega programs in the UAE and Qatar. Roula has an adventurous streak that comes out every now and then—whether it’s trying out an exotic recipe or experimenting with national dishes, attending cultural events or travelling the world when she can. This sense of adventure will serve her well on this bridge build!

Roula honestly shares her anxieties and excitement for this upcoming adventure with us:

“It has now been a few months since I received the great news from the CH2M Foundation that I had been selected to join a team of 10 other enthusiastic employees to go to Nicaragua (land of volcanos and lakes), to build the 87-meter suspension bridge with B2P. I was both thrilled and excited and quickly replied to confirm my interest and participation. At the time, I thought not of the trip details, the logistics or the home events I would be missing (for example, my nephew’s graduation). Instead my mind traveled to the adventure of being away from home comforts in a remote area working with the local community and a team of fellow adventurers. We’re all committed to building a community bridge that will improve travel and connection to other communities and advance quality of life and communications for everyone.

I had preconceived thoughts about what I would find and experience in a remote village and construction site, but it was only when the emails started trickling in from our CH2M Foundation team and our B2P partners that I realized my exhilaration was being dwarfed by issues I had not yet considered. My apprehensions were rekindled by my limited knowledge of bridge building (I’m not an engineer) and concerns about my health and safety, insect bites, fear of heights and living on base camp away from creature comforts.

Prepping the site

Prepping the site

My thoughts drifted towards the basics: will we be in tents? Hmm, I’d never been camping under canvas in a tent before (does camping in cabins count?) and I don’t own any camping equipment–none whatsoever!!! I was hit by a series of what ifs: what if there were an accident? What if there were no nearby hospitals? What if a spider or a snake crawls into my tent?

As I read more about the previous bridge builds and watched the videos of other teams mastering their challenges, I fast-forwarded my thoughts to Quililon bridge inauguration day (the day!). I remembered the Rwanda build video of smiling children running on the footbridge with their parents and the bridge building team, and immediately I was there enjoying the commitment and enthusiasm that the hard work had delivered. All of these thoughts reminded me why I had volunteered for this opportunity, and I felt the passion and excitement flow through my veins as I thrilled to the adventure and the experience I am about to undertake. I’m looking forward to learning more about myself and giving to others and my teammates. And I wonder: who are they? Where do they come from? And what experiences collectively do they bring? (I secretly hope they are bridge builders to offset my lack of knowledge and so I can learn from them…and I hope they will learn from me!).

On March 29, we had our kickoff call and got to hear from our CH2M Foundation Executive Director Ellen Sandberg and our partners on the ground. I felt immediately at ease hearing my teammates and learning about their energetic backgrounds.

After our team announcement was published on CH2M’s Intranet, messages of congratulations from colleagues came in from all over the globe. I felt so very reassured to know deep in my heart why I wanted to do this. With less than a month away, my initial concerns are receding as I learn more about the project, complete the required forms related to logistics and health and safety, review and develop work plans and start to gather my essential equipment.

I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with B2P, our CH2M team and the local community to support the Quililon Bridge build. I look forward to the hands-on experience, giving back to a community in need of safe access and seeing its enormous impact on the local community and all involved. I am looking forward to meeting my team members and to work on this important project.

I’ve bought my work boots and camping gear. Our logistics manager booked our flights, and it’s becoming a reality. I’m excited and the adrenalin is racing through my body, ready to take on next this chapter in my life.”

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May 2017

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