Globe Aware founder and executive director Kimberly Haley-Coleman wrote an article for Everyday Ambassador’s “Wednesday Wisdom”, a weekly series curated by Everyday Ambassador Partnerships Manager Anjana Sreedhar. In her article, Kimberly highlights central values such as empathy and patience, and how they all relate to building a comprehensive cultural understanding about our environment.
As a high school student in Dallas at Hocakday, I was fortunate to be able to travel internationally and to be involved in many local community service projects from candy striping at hospitals to working in women’s shelters. I was interested in other cultures and languages from a young age, and perhaps most specifically how cultural conditioning dictates such a great amount of our behaviors. It is something we don’t often examine, that our actions are often largely LEARNED. It may be something as simple as how much free time is considered a humane and normal amount to have in one’s life. The answer is hugely divergent even based on the country in which one was born, or the culture to which one is attached. I find this important because it also shows how a person can change their perspective. The kind of message that has the ability to completely change your life – to be happier, healthier and to have a greater impact helping others achieve their goals – which in itself has a coronation to happiness.
After high school, I went to Emory University and continued education in international cultures and held many jobs that required multi-cultural skills. I then went onto receive my Masters in French and Art History and my MBA in international business then worked for a variety of corporations. Like many, I saw my pocket book expand, but felt my soul shrinking. I would find myself in a country like Brazil over the weekend on business, and looking to fill free time. Beyond tourist activities, I wanted to connect to the local communities by volunteering. I found that most organizations simply do not want to accept anyone short term, as the amount of time and resources it takes just to organize fro or train someone for a few days is more trouble than its worth. I did understand. But my appetite grew. I called every organization I could and kept coming up against the same response. Eventually I started organizing my own short term programs and found there was a huge response by others to join me. Once I was able to live on the income from my spouse, I left prior work and set about creating these experiences full time.
Globe Aware’s objectives are two-fold. One is to promote cultural awareness; essentially to allow the participant to get a more complete understanding of the real beauties and challenges faced in a different culture, rather than just a tourist, post-card view. The other goal is to promote sustainability, which is to say to help people stand on their own two feet. To that end, we work side-by-side with locals, as equals, working on projects that are important to them. They choose the projects, the materials, and how we go about doing it. The experiences are all one week. not because that is the ideal amount of time to spend to get to know a culture, but because it is what is feasible for most North Americans. I am frequently asked if working with the Peace Corps for 2 and a half years might not be a better experience. Of course that length of time will give you a much deeper comprehension and allow significantly more time to make a meaningful contribution.
My hope is that our one week experiences light the lamp of inspiration for participants to want to come back and discover and give back to more and more cultures. We have programs in 17 countries around the world and are always expanding. In Cambodia we assemble and distribute wheelchairs for landmine victims, in Peru we build adobe lorena stoves that greatly reduce deforestation and decrease smoke inhalation inside the home, in Guatemala we install concrete floors in the homes of single mothers, we have built schools, homes, hygiene stations, the spectrum is large and each program is very different. We spend about 40 hours a week working, and still have 3 to 5 planned but optional cultural excursions. We purposefully do not work in orphanages. A quick google about “orphanage tourism” will explain why. We do, however, work with and for needy children in many of our programs. It’s a wonderful, organic learning process.
Occasionally people will ask if it’s really a good thing when volunteering abroad benefits the volunteer. Our feeling is that is a full 50% of why we exist – YES! To expand the minds of the volunteer so that they understand the real challenges of the world and return home reinvigorated to make a difference and continue giving back. While we definitely want to provide for those in need, we are not heroes. We are not coming in to save the world. Usually the locals are faster and better at every activity we take on, which in itself provides a wonderful learning experience. The goal is that our work benefits the community where we are working and the volunteer doing the work. I think it’s critical that in order to be a really involved, successful person, one should also be a globally aware. citizen. We want more people who are able to care about the globe, who are trying to help find resolutions, on a global scale, to conflicts that are important, whether it’s political peace or bringing groups and different nationalities together to find a solution to problems that we all face.
Last but not least, participating in a travel abroad program can be a huge source of joy for someone for their whole life, to have those wonderful moments of cultural understanding.
Globe Aware is pleased to announce a partnership with Everyday Ambassador, a best-practice network of global citizens and organizations that believe that human connection, even in an increasingly digital world, is the key to lasting, positive social change.
April Wrap-Up: Updates from Our Partners
Today’s post marks the third post of a new initiative: the last Wednesday Wisdom post of every month will be dedicated to announcing updates from our experiential partner organizations. Due to technical errors this post is being featured today. See what each organization is up to, whether it be a new initiative, a star volunteer, or an exciting new program, below.
Also a special shout-out to organizations who are working with their partners on the ground in Nepal to rescue and rehabilitate those who have been affected by last week’s tragic earthquake.
We are proud to announce two of our newest experiential partners, Globe Aware and Global Citizens Network! Both are committed to promoting culturally responsible leadership for participants who are interested in giving back in a responsible way. Read a little bit about both of them below!
Globe Aware is a nonprofit that develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments that encourage people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. The mission of Globe Aware’s volunteer trips is to promote cultural awareness and create sustainability. For GlobeAware the concept of cultural awareness means to recognize and appreciate the real beauties and real challenges of a culture, but not to change it. The concept of sustainability is to help others stand on their own two feet and to teach skills rather than reliance.
Globe Aware recently launched their newest program to South Africa, in which volunteers will help to improve and maintain local homes and schools throughout the community. Projects include replacing roofing, home waterproofing, and installing concrete floors. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to participate in community and school activities such as soccer, volleyball, and Physical Education classes. GlobeAware is very excited about the South Africa program and looks forward to watching the community thrive. Globe Aware is also excited about announcing the launch of its Cuba Program for this summer as well!
Globe Aware has also been participating in an amazing social media campaign through FLOAT (For The Love of All Things), through which they are selling designed limited-edition shirts. For each t-shirt sold to Globe Aware, FLOAT will donate $8 for every shirt to promote sustainability in communities Globe Aware serves abroad.
Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Globe Aware’s founder, had this to say:
“South Africa took the proud step to end apartheid more than two decades ago; we are delighted to see volunteers working in partnership with locals to help bring the vision of a better future to all South Africans. We welcome you to come and be a part of it.”
Writer Morgan Quinn looks at volunteer vacations for U.S. News & World Report and considers the career and résumé they may hold.
6 Vacations That Will Boost Your Résumé
These trips will give your earning potential a lift.
By Morgan Quinn
April 30, 2015
No matter how many corners you cut and airfare deals you score, taking a vacation is expensive. What’s more, many Americans avoid taking time off altogether because they’re worried how it will affect their careers. A 2014 Glassdoor survey found that U.S. employees only use only half of their eligible paid vacation and paid time off. A U.S. Travel Association study last year also found that nearly half of employees continue to check their work email when they do go on vacation.
What if you could take a vacation that would help your career – not hurt it? What if your time off added valuable skills to your résumé and even put you in line for a promotion when you returned?
A growing trend among American workers and recent college graduates is the volunteer vacation, where travelers work their way through various cities around the world, adding skills, learning new languages and boosting their earning potential. If you want to take some time off to travel this summer – while still working on your career – try one of these vacation ideas.
1. Learn a language. Taking language classes in another country gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and hone your linguistic skills, both inside and outside the classroom. Classes and prices vary, but there are numerous programs that help foreigners study languages around the world, including French in Quebec City, Spanish in South America or Japanese in Tokyo. Whether you are learning a language from scratch or just brushing up on your skills, you’ll return home with a new section to add to your résumé and some real-world experience.
2. Volunteer on an organic farm. Do you want to get your hands dirty this summer? The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organization links volunteers with organic farms for a unique work experience. In return for volunteering, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles and farming. WWOOF farms exist across the globe, from Argentina to Thailand.
The length of stay is negotiated between the host and volunteer, with visits as short as several days to as long as half a year. This is a truly one-of-a-kind experience for people looking to add organic farming and sustainable agriculture experience to their résumé.
3. Practice a trade. If you’re handy with a hammer or looking to get construction and contracting experience, there are a variety of opportunities to lend a hand to an organization in need of volunteers. For instance, Habitat for Humanity offers an international program that organizes volunteers to build well-constructed, affordable shelters for people living in poverty. Another organization, HistoriCorps, works with volunteers to restore historic sites on public lands throughout the United States.
4. Teach overseas. No matter what industry you work in, teaching is an impressive addition to your résumé. Plus, the huge availability of teaching positions across the globe means you can find a tenure that works for you. You can also choose whether you’d prefer to work with children, teenagers or adults.
There are overseas teaching programs like The English Camp Company, which organizes summer camps in Taiwan, Italy and Austria for kids ages 6 to 14. Volunteers have the opportunity to tutor campers in English, live with families and experience authentic local culture firsthand.
5. Conduct scientific field research. If you’re a science enthusiast or interested in exploring ways to make our planet more sustainable, this type of vacation is for you.
Earthwatch Institute expeditions send volunteers to do field work side-by-side with leading scientists. Volunteers work directly under the supervision of experts and get the opportunity to collect data and work as a full-fledged expedition member. Not only will you add an impressive and memorable experience to your résumé, you’ll help the world’s top scientists conduct research that makes our planet a better place to live.
6. Work with animals. If you already have experience working with animals or are simply an animal lover, consider taking a vacation to volunteer at a facility that helps injured or abandoned animals. You can spend a few days or a few weeks giving hands-on care to furry friends who need your help.
For example, the Earthwatch Institute offers a weeklong trip where volunteers monitor threats to ocelots in Trinidad. The Pacific Whale Foundation sponsors a free program, Volunteering on Vacation, for Maui visitors who want to help protect the island’s rare and endangered species.
Just a word of caution: All these vacations may be in historic, beautiful or exotic locations, but they are definitely not a day at the beach – so be prepared to get down and dirty.