Updated December 3, 2018 . AmFam Team
Seeing Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower, walking along the Great Wall of China, watching the waves roll in on the white, sandy beaches of Jamaica — traveling certainly has its appeals! And it’s no surprise that many of us share the dream to travel the world.
But for Evanne Ellis, senior marketing research analyst here at American Family Insurance, travel is about more than just relaxation or epic experiences. It’s about connecting with people in different cultures around the world.
Growing up in central Illinois, Evanne wasn’t always exposed to a diverse range of experiences. But after her very first trip abroad, she knew she wanted to get out and explore. And it’s a dream she’s been working toward ever since.
“When I was 12, I went on a student trip to the UK. It was amazing!” shares Evanne. “After that, I made a goal to study abroad. I spent my last semester of undergrad in Angers, France and I’ve been to 20 countries since.”
When asked about the greatest effect traveling has had on her, Evanne had this to say,
“When I started traveling, I became a different person. People and customs that were different weren’t scary or strange anymore. They were exciting! My new friend from Russia and I laughed at the same jokes, we had the same goals.”
Upon making this discovery, Evanne’s dream evolved, and she now strives not only to visit every corner of the globe, but also to make a difference wherever she can. And she’s started by working for causes near and dear to her heart.
“Causes that help those who can’t help themselves are what really tug at my heartstrings,” says Evanne. “I started doing habitat restoration, attending educational sessions and encouraging people I know how to think about the environment in their daily lives. I also support organizations that help foster kids in the US and kids in third-world countries.”
To add to her impressive roster, Evanne’s most recent trips include participating in a UNICEF (Opens in a new tab)fundraising trip to Romania a few years ago, and then another just this year to Peru.
“My trip to Machu Picchu was humbling,” explains Evanne. “We slept in tents and had no shower for four days. We trekked through tiny villages where a handful of people live — faces were dirty, roofs were thatched and ponds that provided water were dried up. You could see moments of reflection flow through our group.”
And while the journey was tough, those she helped along the way made it worth it. And the support she received from her co-workers and the matching gift program at American Family Insurance made it that much easier for her to make a big impact.
“This Peru trip was special because it was focused on a cause — UNICEF,” says Evanne. “My coworkers generously donated money when they had only known me a few months. And American Family made reaching my fundraising goal even easier with their 2:1 donation matching. I’ve always been envious of people who worked for companies with donation matching, but now I’m one of those people! And I plan to keep making a difference.”