Voluntourism and solo travel

GoGirlfriend.com is a niche blog that focuses exclusively on travel for women, products and tips. Highbrow or budget, hot spots or off the beaten path, eco-friendly, sustainable and smart travel choices. GoGirlfriend.com profiled Amy Angelilli, a socially responsible lifetime adventurer who' s visited at least 24 countries " and she continues adding a new one to that list every year. Amy shared her solo travel experiences and the big-draw of volunteer travel. Enjoy!

Travel… It’s Good for You!

Still scouring the Internet for an ideal adventure that' s right for you this year? Don' t be overwhelmed reading about other people' s adventures. What' s right for someone else isn' t necessarily right for you. What matters is that you have an authentic experience, get just a little bit out of your comfort zone and do, see or feel something you' ve never experienced before. It could be half way around the world, or, it could be just a short drive away. Make it yours and completely immerse yourself in it.

As a follow-up to my original piece about simple ways to add adventure to your travel, here are five more suggestions to get you packing. Hopefully one resonates with you, and, fits your lifestyle.

Stay local

It' s easy to stay at a chain hotel when traveling because it gives us comfort, as we know what to expect. Don' t do it. If you stay local, you not only put your dollars into the local economy, you' re able to cross the line between tourist and traveler " and that' s where the real adventure begins. To access these local opportunities, you might rent a place through Airbnb.com, which offers unique stays from local hosts in more than 190 countries. I' ve stayed in a guesthouse on an organic farm in Tortola, in a guest room on the western hills of Portland, Oregon and in an Adobe house on ten acres in Southwest Colorado via Airbnb.

If you like pets, TrustedHousesitters.com is a great resource as it connects home and pet owners who need a sitter. You' ll have the opportunity to stay at someone' s home (for free!) in exchange for taking care of the home and pets.

Go solo

Have you ever traveled with someone who just wasn' t on the same page " or schedule — as you? It' s a drag as you find yourself compromising on what to see and what to do every day. And, let' s face it " the trip is only so long, so to miss out on opportunities can be heartbreaking. The solution? Go alone and spend each day however you' d like. I traveled to an eco-camp on St. John over Thanksgiving a few years ago. This is an example of how not to travel alone. It was a remote location on an American holiday, so the facility was filled with couples and families. I made only one friend " a single woman traveling with her daughter — who had a rental jeep. For a few days, I had a friend " and a ride. However, the experience taught me a lesson. As a solo traveler, avoid holidays and seek out places to stay that attract other solo travelers. For more solo travel tips, visit AdventurouSkate.com " a solo female travel blog and the "She Travels Solo" page of JourneyWoman.com.

Go to camp

If you' ve longed to return to camp ever since you reached an age where you became too old to return to camp, now' s your chance. Summer camps for adults are exploding. And, some even cater to the solo traveler. At the Mac & Cheese Productions Life of Yes! Sleepaway Camp, you' re whisked away to an undisclosed location within a two-hour drive of Chicago " but that' s all your told. Everything is taken care of for you " lodging, meals and itineraries " so there' s nothing to worry about. And, the best part is that everyone comes solo, so you wouldn' t even be eligible to attend if you wanted to bring a friend.

If big is more your thing " big trees, big crowds and big productions " then get your backpack ready and head to Camp Grounded " summer camp for adults. A digital detox experience in the Redwoods where adults get to be kids again, Camp Grounded offers playshops, wellness activities, sustainable meals, and most importantly, live real-time conversations with real people " no digital devices needed. Summer of 2014 was my summer of camps " it impacted me so much that I just completed an old school style scrapbook of my experiences.

Participate in a volunteer program

Voluntourism is at an all-time high, as more people want to give back via their travel experiences. VolunTourism.org is a great resource to explore volunteer vacations. As you dig deeper about this kind of travel experience, you' ll discover a global debate raging regarding the value of volunteer travel. If you' re on the fence about where you stand, or, if you just don' t want to get your hands dirty, you can have your volunteer vacation be about nothing more than talking. Seriously! At VaughTown, native English speaking volunteers spend several days in a small Spanish town conversing with Spanish business people hoping to get better command of English. I participated in this program in 2003 and I' m still in touch with some of the friends I made there

Travel off-season

There are so many advantages to traveling off-season " the biggest being the cost. There are always bargains to be had, as there are fewer visitors coming through. Plus, if it' s a popular tourist destination, the locals tend to be more relaxed and open to conversation as they aren' t up to their eyeballs with tourists. I took this concept to the extreme about 15 years ago when I traveled to the island of Ibiza in February. It was a ghost town. But, there was one pub open and the British folks minding it gave us the royal treatment, making for an unforgettable evening. If off-season seems too much of a stretch, try shoulder season " bargains are still available, crowds are still thin and authentic connections are still easier to find.

May you find " and embrace " your own adventure in 2015. And remember, even if everything doesn' t turn out perfectly, an imperfect adventure is better than no adventure at all.

What tips would you like to add on why traveling is good for you? We’d love to hear. Drop a comment below or connect with your GoGirlfriends on Facebook or Twitter!

About Amy Angelili

Amy Angelilli is a socially responsible lifetime adventurer who' s visited at least 24 countries " and she continues adding a new one to that list every year. Between trips, she moved from Philadelphia to Denver in an RV filled with rescue pets, and opened a low cost spay/neuter clinic for stray cats so she wouldn' t have to adopt any more. Now, as Chief Adventure Officer of The Adventure Project, she uses improvisational theater techniques to play with others so that they may discover and create their own adventures " at home or abroad.


Battling Thailand’s illegal dog meat trade

Every year tens of thousands of dogs are inhumanely transported from Thailand to neighboring countries where they are butchered for their meat. The Soi Dog Foundation and the Thai government are actively working to end this brutal and cruel practice. This story by by correspondent Tibor Krausz in The Christian Science Monitor relates the work of a retired British couple to put an end to the practice. The author also acknowledges the work done by Globe Aware volunteers to help Thai elephants.

John and Gill Dalley battle Thailand’s illegal dog meat trade

The British couple moved to Thailand to retire. But when they learned of the illegal capture and torture of dogs, their plans changed.

Buriram Province, Thailand ' You hear them before you see them. From inside seven well-equipped enclosures at an animal sanctuary within a remote forest in rural Buriram Province comes a canine cacophony of barks, woofs, and yelps. The spacious runs are home to some 1,500 dogs " young and old; big and small; white, tan, brown, spotted, blotched, dappled, and black. They loll in the shade, bicker over chew toys, or leap about, tails wagging, as visitors approach.

volunteer vacation ThailandUntil recently a terrible fate awaited all these dogs: They were destined for dinner tables. In Thailand' s clandestine dog meat trade countless dogs " pets and strays alike " have been seized from streets and outside homes by criminal gangs that cater to vendors and restaurants selling canine meat from Thailand to Vietnam.

John Dalley will have none of that. The retired chemical engineer from Leeds, England, and his wife, Gill, a former bank employee, set up the Soi Dog Foundation in 2003 on the tropical island of Phuket in southern Thailand, where the couple had just relocated for their retirement.   
Recommended: Difference Maker 6 organizations that protect animal rights

"We had a dog back home, but I wasn' t particularly involved with animal rights," recalls Mr. Dalley, a lanky, cordial man. "But you see these dogs [in Thailand] suffer, and you want to do something to help them."
Difference Maker 6 organizations that protect animal rights
Photos of the Day Photos of the Day 02/05

So they do. The animals here owe their lives to the Dalleys. Their charity has built a canine shelter with treatment and adoption areas. It pays for its operating costs through donations from Soi Dog' s global network of supporters.

The nonprofit has helped rescue thousands of dogs from being slaughtered. In the northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon, a hot spot for the underground dog meat trade, Soi Dog pays rewards to locals for tips on dog thieves and works with local police in arresting them.

The charity also has its own task force, which has intercepted dozens of trucks with cargoes of stolen dogs bound for Vietnam' s booming canine meat markets. The unit has also uncovered illegal butchers, tanneries, and holding centers, shutting them down and freeing scores of dogs.

According to the Thai Veterinary Medical Association, half a million Thai dogs were smuggled to Vietnam and China in 2011. Today the number is no more than one-third of that.

"The numbers are down. We' re winning," Dalley says. "But we have a long way to go yet."

To evade capture, the criminal gangs have changed their tactics. They used to transport dogs on torturous journeys across borders in cramped poultry cages without food or water, or hidden in sacks under their trucks' false floors. Not anymore.

"With the last two trucks we' ve caught, all the dogs had already been butchered with their meat placed in iceboxes," laments Varaporn Jittanonta, a nurse who works as Soi Dog' s relief coordinator. She' s standing beside kennels of young rescuees earmarked for adoption. Recently, four dogs from Buriram " easygoing Malt, bouncy Midnight, mischievous Sam, and affectionate Paige " were taken for adoption in the United States by the Virginia-based A Forever Home Rescue Foundation.

Yet successes in some areas come with setbacks in others. The drive spearheaded by Soi Dog to curb the cross-border dog meat trade has driven up demand for live dogs in Vietnam where thieves, often armed, scour villages and towns for unguarded pets.

"Dog thieves like to target pets because, unlike strays, they' re friendly and approachable," Dalley notes. "Pets also command better prices [at meat markets] because they' re healthy and well fed."  

In areas where dog meat is considered a delicacy, such as Thailand' s Sakon Nakhon Province and Hanoi, Vietnam, curbside food stalls sell roasted dogs and entire eateries specialize in dog meat dishes. The animals' skins often end up being used in leather goods, including golf gloves exported to the West.

"There are a lot of weird beliefs about dog meat," Dalley observes. "In Vietnam people like to eat it in winter because they consider it a warming dish. In [South] Korea they eat it in summer because they see it as a cooling dish. In Cambodia some men believe they gain virility from eating black dogs."

In Sakon Nakhon, a kilo (2.2 pounds) of dog meat jerky costs about 300 baht ($9) " the daily wages of a laborer. "It' s a luxury food," the Englishman notes.

"I abhor this trade because of the shocking cruelty involved in it," he says. No effort is made to ensure humane treatment of dogs before slaughter. In fact, the killing methods used can be intentionally brutal " still-conscious animals are often beaten or burned. Some in the trade believe the release of adrenalin in a frightened animal enhances the flavor of dog meat.

Recently, comedian Ricky Gervais, actress Judi Dench, and other British celebrities joined Soi Dog' s petition against Thailand' s "dark secret," endorsing the animal charity' s campaign in an online viral video. The move helped to put pressure on Thai lawmakers, whom Dalley has long been lobbying for more stringent animal welfare laws " or rather, for any meaningful legislation at all. Until recently, people who abused or maltreated animals faced only a small fine (the equivalent of $30).   

Then last December, after consultation with him and other animal rights advocates, Thailand' s parliament finally passed the country' s first Animal Welfare Bill, which has increased penalties to a maximum of two years in prison and 40,000 baht (around $1,200) in fines.

Yet for Dalley the new law has been a Pyrrhic victory: Despite his advice, Thai lawmakers failed to ban the slaughter of non-livestock animals for their meat and skin. "The only way to measure a law' s effectiveness is to see how it affects the level of crime it' s meant to stop," he says diplomatically. "We' ll see."

But it isn' t just dogs threatened by meat traders that need the Dalleys' help; many others do, too. Soi Dog provides emergency and veterinary care for abandoned pets and feeds hundreds of strays on the streets and at Buddhist temples.

The Dalleys also run a shelter and adoption center for some 400 dogs on their tourist island. Most arrive malnourished and diseased. Thanks to round-the-clock care from several veterinarians, dozens of other paid staff, and volunteers, hundreds of neglected and discarded dogs have made remarkable recoveries.

The couple also has had to overcome pain and sorrow. In October 2004, a stray dog, groggy from being tranquilized for a neutering procedure, fled into a boggy water buffalo field. To save him from drowning, Ms. Dalley waded in after him. Within days, however, she developed a serious bacterial infection. Eventually both her legs were amputated below the knee.

Then on Dec. 26 that same year a devastating Indian Ocean tsunami ravaged much of Phuket, claiming the life, among thousands of others, of a close friend of Gill' s who had been helping her save dogs.

"I went into shock for 24 hours," she recalls. A day later, though, using a wheelchair, she was out and about in the island' s worst-affected area helping counsel relatives of victims and tending to displaced dogs languishing without food and shelter.

She now uses prostheses to get around.

"As I was learning to walk again, I thought of the dogs that still needed my help," Gill says. "Pure joy for me is changing an animal' s life."

Her husband isn' t slowing down, either.

"I was going to spend my retirement in Thailand playing golf and diving," John says. "Instead, in all my time here I' ve gone diving once and never swung a club. But one thing I want to do before I die is to end the dog meat trade."

How to take action

Universal Giving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects are vetted by Universal Giving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause. Below are links to the Soi Dog Foundation and Globe Aware, two organizations that protect animals in Thailand:

  • The mission of the Soi Dog Foundation is to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Thailand, resulting in better lives for both the animal and human communities. Take action: Here are three Soi Dog Foundation programs seeking help. Support efforts to rescue dogs from the dog meat trade. Volunteer to help street dogs and cats. Donate $30 to give a stray animal medical treatment.
  • Globe Aware promotes sustainability, helping communities prosper without relying on outside aid. Take action: Volunteer to help elephants in Thailand.

The Christian Science Monitor

Voluntourism offers many options

‘Voluntourism’ options available for all budgets and schedules
laos2Many people know all about “voluntourism,” the option of volunteering while traveling. But not all of us can – or have the time to – spend vacation doing more work, even if it’s in a beautiful locale.

However, there’s a growing trend that lets people still kick back during most of their time off but still kick in to help the local community.

Kim-Marie Evans enjoys seeing the world first-hand and sharing it with her children. She finds ways for her family to have a good time but also do good.

“Exposing them not just to the hotel pool and the kids club, but exposing them to the local culture, to the children and getting them a chance to really get to know the locals changes their opinion of what the world is like,” she said.

Her daughter Macie believes this only makes vacation better.

“You got your time to relax but you also did something that was very meaningful and actually got something out of your vacation,” Macie said.

They’ve stumbled upon a new mini-version of “voluntourism” where you donate just a bit of time or supplies instead of dedicating an entire week of work.

“Traditionally, travelers who were attracted to voluntourism were people with a lot of time, say college students or retirees. Now, with a lot more drop-in opportunities for short-term experiences with voluntourism, pretty much anybody can get involved…families, couples,” Anne Banas of Smarter Travel said.
She said the options vary.

"Sometimes it’s as simple as reading to the local school children, donating school supplies, or even helping out at local soup kitchens or making repairs that they otherwise wouldn’t have the resources to do that,” Banas said.
And the opportunities are easy to find.

“You could go through your hotel or resort, as well as cruise lines, theme parks,” Banas said.

“Look toward local tourism boards who are actually doing something, who can advise you,” Jason Clampet of Skift.com said.
Clampet works for the site Skift.com, which monitors travel trends. He stresses you really need to do your homework before you go beyond the resort walls. First, be honest about your skills.

"You can fix a paper jam but you probably can’t dig a well, and if you actually can’t offer a specific set of skills, is there money that you can give in a certain instance that can help people who do have those skills,” he said.
If you do decide donating money is best, be careful.

“Sometimes your money’s not actually going to the organization that you’re trying to help, so you really want to make sure you’re dealing with reputable organizations,” Clampet said.
Another suggestion: buy local.

“Shopping at local farmers markets, when you’re eating out at a restaurant, look for mom and pop independently owned,” Clampet said.
Kim-Marie likes doing a bit of everything.

“You get to take home very different memories than if you had spent all of your time at the resort,” she said.
Another tip from Skift.com: you may want to investigate how the company you’re dealing with – whether it’s a cruise line, hotel or theme park – treats its employees, especially if it’s arranging programs for giving back. Skift says that’s a good way to see if they’re truly interested in caring for the community around them or putting together programs for promotional benefits.



Volunteer Vacations’ Growing Popularity

vOLUNTEER VACATIONS POPULAR" Volunteer vacations' a popular trend for many

By Jackie Runion

Marietta Times

Anyone vowing to travel or to make a difference in the new year can do both at the same time in the form of a “volunteer vacation.”

A number of companies, organizations and programs exist to offer people of all ages a chance to volunteer and help others while on vacation, whether it be either a car ride or a long plane trip away.

A popular trend that comes in the form of mission trips, alternative spring breaks and state and nationally-organized charity projects, the concept of volunteer tourism can give people a chance to get out of their backyards and also make an impact in their state, country or in a community overseas.


Volunteer vacation opportunities

Volunteer Match

  • Features: Database directory of service opportunities for 99,000 nonprofits across U.S. that provide search-by-location and service-type engines.
  • Requirements: Vary by project.
  • Ages: Accepts all ages.

Globe Aware

  • Features: Worldwide, week-long volunteer projects.
  • Requirements: Cost and application required, trips are tax-deductible.
  • Ages: All ages accepted, children 15 and under must travel with a parent or guardian.

Projects Abroad

  • Features: Variety of service projects in East Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • Requirements: Application required.
  • Ages: Teens and older.

American Hiking Society

  • Features: Week-long trail and park maintenance projects across the U.S.
  • Requirements: Varying fees and registration required.
  • Ages: All ages accepted, volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

  • Features: Various volunteer activities for groups and individuals of all ages across Ohio’s 74 state parks.
  • Requirements: None.
  • Ages: All ages accepted.

In the area, common traveling service projects are found most frequently through colleges and churches.

Marietta resident Terry Schmelzenbach is one of many people who found a passion in overseas mission work through his church.

Through the Marietta Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Schmelzenbach has taken multiple trips to Swaziland, Africa, not only to experience the beautiful scenery and wildlife, but to help others.

“We’ve had a presence there since 1908,” Schmelzenbach said. “The Church of the Nazarene has a large base there, and we educate about 32 percent of the people in that country.”

Schmelzenbach said the groups, which typically consist of just fewer than 20 people and with all ages involved, help work on the country’s two colleges and help with various building projects and food needs in the area.

“It’s things as simple as laying and cutting tile for floors and stuff like that for buildings over there,” he said. “When you’re worrying about where your next meal is coming from, you don’t worry about stuff like that.”

The group often takes clothing and food to help out the locals in addition to delivering sermons.

“We turn it into a 50/50 deal,” Schmelzenbach said. “The rest of the time we spend in Kruger (National) Park, where all the safari animals are, and we stay the night there in a fenced-in area.”

Schmelzenbach said he and his wife save up to go on the trips every few years, including one coming up in June.

“The average lifespan is like 32 years of age, and $10 a day is considered a good job, so they know you’re there for them,” he said. “We go over there and feed them, but we also work with them.”

Through organizations like Projects Abroad and Global Aware, people of all ages can pay for tax-deductible vacations connected to national and international service projects.

Through Projects Abroad, which sends some 10,000 volunteers around the world each year, applicants can travel across the world to build schools, teach, conserve wildlife and provide childcare.

Many Projects Abroad trips allow anyone 16 and older to join, while short-term programs like Alternative Break Trips and High School Specials offer similar experiences for college students and teens.

“Alternative Spring Break trips are designed with short-term volunteering in mind and give college students the chance to break away from the usual spring break experience and give the gift of service to those in need,” said Tom Pastorius, the head of recruitment for Projects Abroad.

And Global Aware also offers its own volunteer vacations that provide teaching, clean-up, building and other types of activities within the U.S. and abroad.

Other companies and their respective websites, like volunteermatch.org and voluntourism.org, provide similar matching opportunities to either allow groups and individuals to directly apply for a service project or to provide resources about projects across the nation and how they can get involved.

Marietta resident Kevin Ritter is the owner and founder of Coast to Coast Athletics, a Marietta company established in 2002 that not only provides scholarships to local students, but provides teaching opportunities to children and teenagers around the world.

“On the service side we are involved in baseball clinics, and we’ve done these in Europe, Puerto Rico, Australia and in Florida,” Ritter said.

The program offers $1,000 scholarships to area Washington County students that staff deem college-ready, both to give them a head-start in paying for tuition while also providing an opportunity to teach the sport to their peers and to younger children across the world.

Domestically, a popular volunteer opportunity for outdoor fanatics is through the American Hiking Society.


New Year’s travel resolutions

Making service vacations part of New Year’s travel resolutions

By Georgina Cruz, Special Correspondent

Orlando Sentinel

New Years Volunteer VacationsThis is the time of the year to start making some resolutions for 2015, like perhaps losing weight or quitting smoking. For those who would also like to make some New Year travel resolutions, here is an idea: a volunteer vacation.

Participants in this type of trip, sometimes called "voluntourism," have opportunities to mix with the locals in many countries, living and working in communities on a variety of projects and activities "from teaching English to caring for youngsters in orphanages and from taking part in community improvement projects to assisting in conservation efforts. The experience gives the opportunity, as one organization put it, "to see the world through a new lens."

Trips are generally short-term: one-, two- and three-weeks in length, though some companies can arrange for longer service periods. Typically, no prior experience is necessary to participate.

Here are some offerings for those who would like to volunteer during their vacation to make a difference in other people' s lives. Prices for the trips vary; contact the organization for details (and costs may be tax deductible "check with the company and double check with your accountant).

· Globe Aware Adventures In Service " This is a non-profit that has been developing short-term volunteer programs internationally for 15 years. The trips provide opportunities for people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. Activities are intended to promote cultural awareness and/or sustainability. Recognizing the beauty and challenges of a culture and helping others to stand on their own two feet, teaching them skills rather than reliance. The organization' s criteria for choosing projects include trips that are safe, culturally interesting, genuinely beneficial to a needy community, and that involve significant interaction between participants and the host community.

Optional cultural excursions are available on every program. Among the organization' s service trips in 2015 are programs to the Inca city of Cuzco in Peru, near the legendary Lost City of Machu Picchu, as well as projects in Costa Rica, Guatemala and many other destinations. Info: www.globeaware.org.

Orlando Sentinel

Q & A: The Festive Traveller

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, founder and Executive Director of Globe Aware, recently sat down with Jessica Wynne Lockhart, contributing editor at Travel with Purpose’s Verge Magazine to discuss how to make the most of a volunteer vacation. The Q & A is below.

How to be an effective global citizen during the holiday season.

santa-volunteer-vacationsAs the holidays approach and the fiscal year draws to an end, it' s a natural time to think about how we can support our global community. But with thousands of charities to choose from, how do you select a reputable organization to donate your time or money to?

It' s not an easy question, which is why we called in the experts: Nick Beardsley is the Project Advisor for Gapforce, a provider of structured gap years and summer abroad programs; Justine Abigail Yu is the Communications and Marketing Director for Operation Groundswell, a non-profit that facilitates service-learning experiences; and Kimberly Haley-Coleman is Founder and Executive Director of Globe Aware, a charitable organization that mobilizes small groups of volunteers to promote cultural awareness around the world.

Nick, Justine and Kimberly shared with us how they believe we can be effective global citizens this holiday season:

Why do think it' s important to reflect on global citizenship during the holiday season?

Nick Beardsley, Project Advisor for Gapforce: It should be important at all times to both pursue and reflect on global citizenship in one way or another. What the holiday season does is offer us the opportunity to think about others at a time that is infamous for being selfless. It is a time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. It is the perfect time to transcend geographic, political, and cultural boundaries and recognize oneself as a citizen of the global community.

Each year, the popularity of "charitable giving" instead of "gift giving" increases. What are your recommendations for choosing a charitable organization to support?

Nick: You should choose an organization that means something to you. It may be that you have a personal connection to the cause or it may be that the organization has simply touched you in some way. Choose with your heart.

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Founder and Executive Director of Globe Aware: Start with what you know. If you belong to a trusted community centre, school, animal shelter or faith-based organization, this is a wonderful place to start.

If you are just now setting out to find an organization, know that this takes time. Ask friends and family whom they support and why. Make a list of what world issues most concern you and which entities seem to do a good job of addressing those issues. Look at the publically listed financials to get a better understanding of how the organizations spend their revenues. Don' t hesitate to call the organizations to find out more about them. If you aren' t ready to make a financial contribution, see if you can volunteer with the organization to get a better feel for how they operate.

Justine Abigail Yu, Communications and Marketing Director for Operation Groundswell: Really do your research here and look at the actual impacts of the organization. First of all, does this organization' s values align with your own? Are they addressing the problem they set out to solve? Do they show evidence that demonstrates that their approach is effective? How do they measure their progress? Does the charity receive feedback from the people it intends to serve and are they using that feedback to improve their programs?

I know that it' s fashionable to assess an organization by looking at how much of donors' dollars are being put towards overhead as an indicator of efficiency and legitimacy. The thinking here is that the lower the percentage that' s going to things like administrative costs, the more effective an organization is. But that' s not necessarily the case. I would challenge people to look deeper than that and ask harder questions. Although keeping a low overhead may be important, the bottom line is that we all want to support organizations are actually solving the social problems that will change our world.

For those who are going away for the holidays, how can they turn their vacation into travel “with purpose”?

Nick: My suggestion is to learn about local traditions and join in. It could become a new tradition that you practice even when you return home.

Kimberly: Picking an eco-conscious hotel, bringing needed donations to a community that has requested them, steering clear of handing out candy and money (which only builds dependency), reaching out to connect with locals in a non-consumer fashion (attend a local faith service or eat a meal with a family) and, of course, volunteering.

Justine: Wherever you' re going this holiday season, take the time to find opportunities that get you off the beaten path to really connect with the local culture and people. Try local delicacies that you' ve never heard of and learn the local language' that genuine attempt at connection builds cultural competency and empathy. And if you want to get your hands a little dirtier, look for opportunities that combine responsible volunteering with cross-cultural dialogue and critical learning.

What are your favourite gift ideas for travellers and global citizens?

Kimberly: Take the time to experience a new culture with a friend or family member while volunteering abroad' this is a bucket list item I hope everyone gets the chance to experience in his or her lifetime. Or, for an easy and incredibly practical gift, I love the luggage scales you can get for less than $10. Highly compressible extra bags, gift cards for phone apps (with suggested list of latest travel apps), and travel guidebooks are awfully nice too.

Justine: Find something handmade and artisanal from a place that means something special to you or to the person you' re giving the gift to. There are a lot of really great cooperatives and organizations that sell their goods through direct trade and this is a really great way to support the local economy of another country.

For example, we all love coffee here at Operation Groundswell. One of our partners, De la Gente, is this awesome agricultural cooperative in Guatemala that creates direct connections with buyers and consumers to improve the livelihoods of the small-holder coffee farmers they work with. All profits generated from the sales of coffee go directly to these farmers. It takes a little bit more research and thought to find these gifts, but it' s so worth it.

Verge Magazine

Why You Should Travel with Your Kids

Downoad Article

Travel abroad with young children? Are you NUTS? All the crying, nagging, and the money!! They won' t even remember it.

Why on EARTH would I do that to myself? What will they eat over there? Fried monkey eyeballs? No thanks! I get these responses all the time. I have been traveling with my children since they were infants all over the world. — all over Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe, Russia, China, Africa.

Here are my two cents. First: young children are often more portable than older children. They still think you know something and they actually want to be with you. Second, until age 2, they can ride in your lap for usually 10% of the cost of a normal ticket. Third: with all the ipads/iphones electronic gadgets, keeping them happy with videos, games and more is much easier today on a plane than it was even 10 years ago. Fourth: You’re right, they may not remember all of it, but YOU will. Are •your* memories worth anything? Life is short, you never know what could happen. Take the chance while you can. Additionally you’d be surprised what they *do* absorb. Young globetrotters don’t take for granted what Perreault Magazine – 80 – language, music, dress or food is the norm.

perraultThey pick up on languages much faster than you do. Their palate is developing: at this stage and their capacity for learning, of course, is fertile.

Fifth: Interestingly they have fresh fruit, veggies, rice, and chicken, freshly prepared and usually not processed all over the world. Sixth: Traveling with a child is the greatest ice breaker there ever was. With the exception of a few Western Countries, most countries view children as a loveable, non-political human with whom to interact rather than as an irritant. Many more people will stop to talk with you simply because you have a child with you. Not too different in some ways than walking a puppy in the park.

Safety: I know some are worried that to travel with a young human is to dangle bait in front of human traffickers. But it' s all about common sense and where you go.

This topic deserves a whole chapter, but the sum of it is, staying safe abroad is usually not much more complicated than staying at home, it just takes knowing the danger zones. Seventh: because you will love it. Seeing your kids react to roaring lions on safari, or learning the joys of giving while building an adobe stove in Peru, or seeing food delivered by mini trains at Japanese restaurants in Tokyo is quadruple the fun. Bon Voyage! JOURNEYS 4 GOOD: CAMBODIA Journeys for Good is an original television series about transformative travel which inspires and uplifts. Each episode profiles a group of voluntourists, who travel the world to make a difference and reach across cultures to connect in a meaningful way. They go far beyond the tourist track to experience the heart and soul of a place, as was the case in 2012 when Journeys for Good traveled to Cambodia.

Voluntourism combines the adventure of travel with the purity of true charitable work.

Emmy award winning husband and wife production team Joanie and Steve Wynn have traveled the world together, producing stories that touch the heart.

Their mission is simple- they believe that engaging in a service project working alongside locals creates a unique opportunity for understanding and exchange, that volunteer traveler helps young people develop self-confidence, empathy and leadership skills, and that by sharing in sweat equity a deeper connection is forged between the volunteers and the communities visited.

Inspired by an earlier visit to Tanzania, the Wynn' s decided to develop Journeys for Good as a vehicle to spread the message of the importance of volunteer travel and to focus awareness on important underlying humanitarian issues and challenges facing communities globally.

In 2012, the Wynns embarked on another volunteer trip with their son Ryan. This Journey took them to Cambodia with the non-profit volunteer operator Globe Aware (www.globeaware.org). On this journey, the Wynns and a group of dedicated volunteers built wheelchairs for landmine victims, taught English to local school kids and worked on several short-term construction projects.

The result “Journeys for Good: “CAMBODIA” is the pilot for a series that the Wynns are currently developing for public television. After its original airing in 2013, the film garnered two regional Emmy awards, including best cultural/ historical program. Journeys for Good celebrates the everyday heroes who connect to the world in a meaningful way through voluntourism.

View half hour program on Vimeo HERE


Perreault Magazine

Alumna Returns Service to Community

Hockaday travel program connects with alumna Kimberly Haley-Coleman' s organization Globe Aware

By Megan Philips
Features Editor

Downoad Article

volunteer-vacations-hockaday-school When alumna Kimberly Haley-Coleman " 88 was a Hockaday student, she was involved in many local community service projects from candy stripping at hospitals to working in women' s shelters. Today, she is giving Hockaday the opportunity she never had: to do community service abroad.

Haley-Coleman found interest in other cultures and languages from a young age, and her five years at Hockaday "helped wet [her] appetite for learning about and understanding other cultures," Haley-Coleman said.

After graduating, Haley-Coleman continued her education in international cultures and held many jobs that required her international relations skills. She received her masters in French and Art History and got her MBA in international business.

"It was all related to other cultures from the earliest I can remember, and Hockaday was certainly an integral piece of that," Haley-Coleman said.

From this foundation, Haley-Coleman founded Globe Aware in 2000.

This past summer, 13 Hockaday Upper School students traveled to Peru, in connection with Globe Aware, to expand their learning about other cultures through hands-on service while visiting two communities, San Pedro and Cuzco.

Junior Allie Charlton, one of the students who traveled with the program, found the organization' s guidance crucial to her trip experience.

"[Globe Aware] had a lot of connections within the cities because people had gone there before us, people were waiting for us to help. If we had just gone to Peru and said

" Oh, we are going to go help this place" no one there would have known us. It was nice because they already had an established organization there that we could help without intruding," Charlton said.

According to Haley-Coleman, around 15 to 25 percent of those who participate in Globe Aware programs outside of their school community are teenagers.

"I think it' s critical that in order to be a really involved, successful person, I feel it almost requires that one be a globally aware citizen. It helps 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," Haley-Coleman said, "But it' s also a huge source of joy for someone for their whole life, to have those wonderful moments of cultural understanding."

Community Service Director Laura Day felt that students learned similar valuable lessons from their experiences with Peruvian culture.

"I think the girls learned what you really need to be happy. I think we learned about material possessions and what people, in general, need to be happy, because we saw people who didn' t have anything who were having happy and wonderful lives," Day said.

The Peru trip, still in connection with Globe Aware, is offered again in Hockaday' s travel program for next year. For Haley-Coleman, this recurring trip connects the school community in which she formed the foundations of her passion for international cultures, and the organization she founded to facilitate this passion for others.

"It' s such a wonderful, full circle feeling of kind of a bit alpha-omega to get a chance to come back to a place that was so instrumental in shaping my life," Haley-Coleman said. "It' s such a wonderful feeling. I' m so grateful."

Other projects Globe Aware is organizing include assembling wheelchairs in Cambodia, building adobe stoves in rural Peru, installing concrete floors in single-mother households in Guatemala and working with elephants in Thailand.

Students who are interested in getting involved with Globe Aware besides through a travel program can apply for internships. Globe Aware will find ways to help based on the applicant' s interests and strengths.

"We are really open to creating various internships and volunteer opportunities that can be done either at home or in our offices as well. We try and structure it based on something that the student is already interested in," Haley-Coleman said.

Contact Haley-Coleman at kimberly_haleycoleman@yahoo.com to learn more about the internship opportunities. F

Megan Philips

Features Editor


Voluntourism will boost your career

Just how important are the hobbies and extracurricular activities job applicants list on their job application resumes? Very important according to Rebecca Delaney writing for Consulting-Specifying Engineer. Employers are looking for worldly employees with experience working with people and communities around the world. Rebecca suggests that voluntourism can help bolster an applicants life experience and job prospects:

Voluntourism will boost your career

Four reasons becoming a global citizen will help you at work.
Rebecca Delaney, PE, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Chicago

We have heard for years employers are looking for “well-rounded” candidates. In the past it has meant a list of your hobbies/extracurricular activities on your resume, which many employers promptly gloss over. Today, it’s clear the world is getting smaller as technology advances, and we find ourselves collaborating with both our cubical neighbors and our coworkers on the other side of the world. Therefore, employers are looking for people who have experienced the world and can bring a global perspective helping us to recognize our common engineering challenges and find solutions together.

One way I have become a global citizen is through “voluntourism.” The term describes trips encompassing both volunteer work and tourism. Here are the most beneficial skills I gained from my trips and how they have made me a more valuable employee.

1. Always be a student: It is of the utmost importance to always enter a new culture with sensitivity and respect. You must acknowledge you are there to teach and learn. This same principle applies in a rural Ugandan classroom as in the American boardroom. Ethnographic skills are defined as the ability to systematically study people or cultures: their communication style, social structure, and spirituality. These skills allow us to observe and absorb new surroundings, rather than judge and reject, which is particularly useful when trying to land new clients and understand their needs. We often forge ahead as though our way is the best, especially when in comparison to developing communities, when in reality we too have so much to learn.

2. Time is not money: During my first trip to Uganda, I planned activities starting at 10 a.m. When no one showed, I was introduced to the phrase “TIA,” meaning “This is Africa.” The phrase encompasses the laid-back attitude toward time, often a result of limited access to electricity (the day starts at sunrise) and limited modes of affordable transportation. This mind-set came as quite the shock for a high-strung American with a schedule to keep.

According to a New York Times article, the American diet is 34 GB a day. Our increased access to information has drastically reduced our ability to wait. The American standard is to monetize time, which puts exponential stress on daily productivity. However, the value of time cannot be explicitly expressed in dollars, and striving toward “working to live” not “living to work” will make us happier and more productive employees.

3. Listen with your eyes open: My work with Engineers Without Borders has been particularly enlightening regarding the intricacies of communication. For example, a community explicitly stated they wanted composting latrines to resolve waste management issues. We helped fund-raise and built a composting latrine. We returned to discover the latrine unused and a new septic tank installed instead. We didn’t realize the community was familiar with more modern waste infrastructure and that using outdoor latrines was not in line with cultural habits. Despite the best intentions, we learned communicating is more than listening; it’s observing the culture.

I had a client who stated he wanted a popular, new system in his building. Knowing it required significant maintenance and that the client struggled with regular maintenance, we were able to propose a slightly different system better suited to the company’s observed culture. We must always listen with our eyes open.

Rebecca Delaney is a mechanical team leader at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s sustainable engineering studio. She is the 2014 ASHRAE New Face of Engineering, recognized for her industry leadership in mentoring students and sharing her passion for engineeri4. Never give up: Most recently I was in Uganda conducting workshops for the microfinance nonprofit, Umama. I met Joyce Nakanwagi. She was born into war and married a man who left her for dead after dousing her with boiling milk. Joyce survived but was struggling to raise her children alone when she applied for a loan to start a charcoal business. She learned to save money for school fees, knowing education is the best long-term means out of poverty. Joyce is persevering despite her circumstances. I get so caught up in the daily busyness of my job with meetings, deadlines, and emergencies that my dream of changing the world may often seems like a distant goal. However, I know every client meeting and project is an opportunity to have small influence toward greater change.

Experts in developing communities suggest all college graduates be required to spend time in the developing world. Voluntourism provides a global perspective that will allow us to engineer for the global population, not just the wealthiest nations, creating simple, affordable technologies that can be applied in any culture/context. With all this, who wouldn’t hire you?

Rebecca Delaney is a mechanical team leader at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s sustainable engineering studio. She is the 2014 ASHRAE New Face of Engineering, recognized for her industry leadership in mentoring students and sharing her passion for engineering around the globe. 

Consulting-Specifying Engineer

Globe Aware Costa Rica featured in CNN

Costa Rica’s ‘connection to nature’

CNN’s Holly Firfer takes you on a beautiful getaway to the tiny nation of Costa Rica with the help of Globe Aware.