Fun for the greater good

Hobbies are always fun. But sometimes they shape the world around us, too.

Adobe employees come together five days a week to work toward common goals, but outside of the office, their interests diverge down surprising paths. Some dedicate their personal time to a passion. Some volunteer. And others have found a way to do both at the same time.

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Angela has been with Adobe for more than 20 years. If you think that sounds like longevity, Angela has practiced the traditional art of Mexican dance since age 3 — and she’s still going strong.

Whether they become dancers or pursue some other type of art, my hope is that it unleashes some kind of creativity in them.

As a member of the Los Lupeños dance group in San Jose, California, Angela volunteers her time to teach her community about the richness of Mexican culture. The group also helps expose area students to an art form that they would not be able to experience due to major cuts in funding for the arts. Recently, the dance group performed a weeklong demonstration for elementary students — with two full-scale shows each day.

“It was physically exhausting, but emotionally, it filled my bucket in unbelievable ways,” Angela says. “The kids wanted to touch our costumes and ask questions. Whether they become dancers or pursue some other type of art, my hope is that it unleashes some kind of creativity in them.”

Rehearsals each week last at least two hours — with longer and more frequent practices when performances are imminent. Angela says her dancing commitment requires a lot of work, but it’s also a source of joy.

“When I’m working, I can be focused and excited about what I’m doing, and when I’m dancing, I can be present and let everything else go,” Angela says. “To me, a hobby is something you do when it’s convenient, and that you enjoy. I have hobbies, too. But this is something much more than that. It’s an integral part of my life that enriches my heart and soul.”

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By day, Cristian is a channel order management representative in Adobe’s Dublin, Ireland office. But when he leaves the office, he immerses himself in ancient India, China, and Greece.

Cristian has been a history buff since childhood. A few years ago, he started to write about the things that interested him most — ancient philosophy, religion, and mythology — and discovered that he loved writing about history as much as reading about it.

“What triggered my interest was to be able to understand how sometimes our present circumstances can be better understood if we know about the past,” Cristian says. “And if we understand what we did before and what happened in the past, that might help us make better decisions today.”

In September 2012, he began volunteering his time to write and edit for the Ancient History Encyclopedia, a nonprofit educational website that aims to provide high-quality information and research to the world for free. He spends 10 to 15 hours each week writing his own material and editing contributions from other authors. He is paid for his time in his favorite currency — history books. His work gives him a way to follow his passion and also help others who have a similar passion.

“The fact that what we do will help someone somewhere with their studies and satisfy their questions gives me a lot of satisfaction,” Cristian says. “Having a positive impact on education and helping students worldwide achieve their educational goals is something I find extremely satisfying. That drives me to contribute.”

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Five years ago, Susan, who manages localization of Adobe marketing materials in the San Jose, California office, heard about an organization called Dining For Women (DFW). Each month, local chapters hold potluck dinners and donate the money they would have spent on dinner. The head organization then gathers up the donations from hundreds of chapters and uses them to help fund grassroots programs in education, healthcare, vocational training, microcredit loans, and economic development around the world.

“When I learned about the focus on women and girls living in extreme poverty in the developing world, I was completely drawn to it,” says Susan, who is now a chapter leader of her local DFW. “I thought there was no better way than to get involved and make a contribution that eventually makes a big difference.”

Through Dining For Women, Susan heard about a trip to Uganda to learn more about a program called BeadforLife, which helps women in Uganda lift themselves out of poverty by finding markets for the paper-bead jewelry they make by hand.

“I had never considered international travel, especially to an impoverished country, until that day,” she says. “I thought, ‘I can’t not go.’ It ignited a fire in me.” Susan is now a volunteer community partner for  BeadforLife, selling jewelry pieces and sharing the stories of the Ugandan women who make them.

Since that time, Susan has hardly stopped traveling — and certainly hasn’t stopped volunteering. Next came a trip to Nepal to see the work of the global organization Heifer International. Then came a trip to India, during which she worked in an Adobe office through the company’s Global Immersion program before heading to remote villages in northwest India to serve local women’s organizations.

“When I think about everything I’m doing, I think, ‘What I am I going to give up?’ But I can’t even think of giving any of it up. It just means too much to me,” Susan says. “I feel so blessed, and I’m thinking, ‘Now where am I going to go?’”

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For employees in Adobe’s Lehi, Utah office, it’s easy to take advantage of the state’s breathtaking hikes on the weekend or after a workday in the summer. But even for a seasoned hiker like Adam, a little information on available hikes is nice to have — but he discovered it was hard to find.

“I always wanted to know good info about hikes here in Utah, and I was always really frustrated,” says Adam, a client success manager in Lehi. “So I decided to do it myself.”

Adam started a website called Utah Hiking Info and filled it with content and photos about Utah hikes. Then he met James, who works on user experience design at Adobe and shared Adam’s love for hitting the trails. Together, they started working on the rebranded site, Trails360. The site includes maps and lists hikes by name, difficulty level, and proximity to certain locations. In the future, they plan to introduce features such as mobile applications and social sharing to facilitate better community interaction among hikers.

“We really want to give back to the hiking community — to help inform people of the outdoors and make sure the outdoors stay great,” Adam says. “We also like giving back in other ways too. We’re helping to put together a charity hike for an organization that brings clean water to third-world countries.”

To help fund the informational site, Adam and James launched a business arm called Live Life Survival. Their new company facilitates wilderness survival adventures for Utah hikers who want to try something a little more rugged, but want to be guided by a professional survival expert.

“Even for people who don’t hike much, we want to encourage them to experience what Utah has to offer,” James says. “It enriches your life when you can go out and be in nature rather than being stuck in the city all day.”

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Jaclyn H. has been working at Adobe since January 2012, but she has one passion that began much earlier – dancing. At the age of 9, Jaclyn began dancing in a Philippine folklore dance group and has never stopped since. As a teenager, Jaclyn organized her own hip hop dance group and took part in dancing competitions all over the country.
Today, Jaclyn works as an administrative assistant at Adobe and is just as involved in her first love than ever before.

Although Jaclyn never intended to become a professional dancer, her dedication towards training and discipline has never ceased. “After work each day, I go for dance lessons for at least two hours,” says Jaclyn. “I just love dancing and enjoy the confidence it gives you.”

She now uses her talent to support her community. In 2013, Jaclyn became part of the Soultrain project which aims to involve children and teenagers from every social and ethnic background in acting, singing and dancing. The project required 6 long months of practice every evening and every weekend. And she did this while working full time at Adobe. “There were challenging moments but it all paid off,” Jaclyn mentions. “It was a fantastic experience to see how professional and amateur dancers worked together to became one team. It was a unique combination of dancing and doing something for a good cause.”

The second project Jaclyn participated in was Hexflash, a theatre production in which people with and without disabilities got to work and dance together. Jaclyn was very impressed at how dedicated and disciplined her disadvantaged team members worked to make the production a success.

Both projects raised money for organizations dedicated to the integration and promotion of creativity and the performing arts within the community. Jaclyn and her fellow artists succeeded in raising funds for a greater cause through sold-out performances.

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