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Travel to a Space Where Authenticity Meets Meaning

A few months ago, I had the good fortune to hear a presentation by Leymah Gbowee. A co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, Leymah was recognized for her efforts mobilizing women in a peaceful protest resulting in the end of the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.

A strong believer in the importance of education, the Nobel prize money enabled Leymah to not only send girls to school but also to provide them with the support needed to succeed. According to Leymah, there have been many successes over the last 5 years. This includes two women earning their PhD’s and a continuous wave of girls entering high school.

After speaking of these successes, Leymah passionately spoke about the challenges. They were numerous and heartbreaking. Despite Leymah’s efforts, girls still experienced significant problems.

For example, one girl repeatedly ran away from school. Leymah was facing so many problems, and now this! She was a point of dismantling the program she had created.

Fortunately, before taking such action, Leymah decided to visit the school and address the girls in attendance. As she vented her frustrations, Leymah found one of girls standing next to her. It was runaway girl. Shyly, she placed a note in Leymah’s hand. It read, “I understand all that you have done for us. I don’t want to mess up my life.”

Leymah knew this was an important moment. She asked everyone, but the note writer, to leave the room.

Then, the girl explained “I’m not running away from school. I run from school when school is dismissed.” Leymah learned that this girl was the first student to get off the bus at the end of the day. Everyone in her neighborhood knew her mother was a sex worker. At school, this girl was Vice-President of the Student Council. She was smart and commanded respect. School was a different world than her reality. The girl went on to say, “I don’t want someone in my neighborhood to say something about my life as I get off the bus.”

Leymah’s story remains with me. How often do I judge someone before knowing their entire story? Just like it takes time to read a book beyond its cover, it takes time to understand someone’s story. Time to ask questions, time to listen, and time to reflect.

After telling this story several of times, I discovered another take away message. Leymah reminded us that school was a very different world for this girl compared to the reality of her neighborhood. This dichotomy raises so many thoughts within me.

I’m reminded of a Spanish teacher I had years ago in Antigua. Teachers at this school wore a uniform that included a white blouse or shirt. As I got to know my teacher, I learned that she lived in a home with one electric light bulb. She fetched water from a community well. She shared that house had dirt floors. I distinctly recall thinking, how does she keep her blouse so white and crisp? I found it challenging even with a wash machine and a good iron. Leymah’s story causes me to wonder how my teacher felt about sharing those details of her life. Was she feeling pride at being able to move beyond her limited material to work as a teacher? Or did sharing these details put her in a place of vulnerability?

Ripple Effect Journeys was created for women who want to experience the world beyond the sights and learn the answers to questions like these.

They want to meet people, particularly women and girls, where they live, work and go to school. We hope the women we meet will be comfortable in sharing their stories. What are their hopes and dreams? What challenges do they face? What do they need to be able to meet their goals? How can we support their efforts? Rather than fixing a situation, we are there to champion individual efforts.

Authenticity meets meaning! I hope Leymah Gbowee would approve.

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Travel with Purpose: 13 Quotes to Inspire You

To travel with purpose is to travel deeply.  It stems from a desire to combine the exploration of new places with the hope of making a difference.  The journey to discover how to do so adds depth and dimension to the destination.

The following 13 quotes give voice to the impact possible when travel with purpose is your goal.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller

Explore the world with an open mind, a sturdy carry-on, and clothes that don’t wrinkle. Madeleine Albright

Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey. Patrick Conroy

It circulates your brain. Yoko Ono

It’s not enough to read about the world; the most important education comes from first hand experiences. Richard Bronson

Traveling enables us to see the world through the eyes of someone else, and to understand their aspirations and assumptions. John Kerry

Travel is more than seeing the sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent in the ideas of living. Miriam Beard

What fills the eyes, fills the heart. Irish Proverb

Traveling-it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. Ibn Battuta

Travel literally forces us out of our routines and, in doing so, gives us the freedom to see things with fresh eyes. Annabelle Selldorf

I travel around the world in a way that tries to open my mind and give me empathy and inspire me to come home and make this world a better place. Rick Steves

Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. Terry Pratchett

The real work of an expedition begins when you return. Louise Arner Boyd

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10 Ways to Refocus a Service Trip to a Journey That Serves

10 Ways to Refocus a Service Trip to a Journey that Servecs

I See and You Can Too!

Jotting down words while pondering my vision for Ripple Effect Journeys, I experienced an epiphany! Removing the letters “i” and “c” from service, results in the word serve. This “IC” (as in I see) moment led me to think about the many definitions of the word “see.” Do the varied meanings of this word impact what it means to serve as opposed to provide service? I think so!

Here are 10 ways “IC” (I see) refocuses a service trip to a Journey that Serves.

1.  To see – To visualize

Thinking about traveling beyond the sights, you begin to think about problems that needs fixing. Because you care, you begin to visualize how your actions could be part of the solution.

A journeys that serves means gathering impressions

2.  To see – To perceive by sight

Being able to see something with your own eyes, enables you to gather information and impressions. The adage “One picture is worth a thousand words” comes to mind. Reading about a situation and experiencing it are two different things. What are your eyes teaching you?

3.  To see – To call upon &
4.  To see – To grant an interview

Journeys that serve are about partnership. As travelers, we often ”feel called upon” to make life better for those we perceive are suffering in the places we visit. But wait. Before developing an action plan for change, don’t we need to be invited in by those we wish to serve, so that we can listen to one another, ask and answer questions?

A journey that service means partnership and discovery.

5.  To see – To watch, to examine &
6.  To see – To discover

If the goal is long term sustainable change, it’s important to discover the complexities that contribute to a situation. Discovery involves going beyond what the eye can see. It involves watching without judgement. It involves not only gathering information but also examining it through someone else’s eyes. Discovery often challenges what we have envisioned. Most importantly it requires a conversation focused on learning.

7.  To see – To understand

Our “IC” journey approaches a place where we begin to grasp the complexities of what we see before our eyes. The tendency to refer to this as a light bulb moment is strong. Because of what we’ve learned, our arrival at a place of understanding comes from empathy.  Our words “I understand” are spoken with a full heart.

A journey that serves means understanding and recognition

8.  To see – To recognize

The words recognize and acknowledge are often used as synonyms. A closer look reveals a slight but important difference. When we recognize someone or something, the act typically takes place quietly. But acknowledging someone or something requires an audience. Inspired by their growing understanding, travelers learning to serve are keen to both recognize and acknowledge, and in doing so help others to understand the power of serving.

9.  To See – To imagine the possibility

Traveling to serve nurtures an empathetic spirit. The importance of this can’t be overstated. Empathy enables us to recognize that we are the visitors, serving in a supportive role. Empathy allows us to accept if our help is rejected. Empathy humbles us to accept an invitation to collaborate rather than solve. And empathy honors us with requests to serve as mentors rather than doers. Understanding empathy helps us see the possibilities for serving may take many forms.

Journey that services means possibility

10.  To See – To take care of, to provide

Whoa! This “IC” may seem contradictory. At first glance, this reaction is understandable. But nothing could be further from the truth. When learning to serve, travelers grow to understand this. As educators, champions, advocates and mentors, we serve others through acts of empowerment. Our journey towards that goal does not end once we are home. Rather, our experiences ignite a passion to champion continued steps towards change.

www.RippleEffectJourneys.com

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‘Tis the Season of Good Travels with Ripple Effect Journeys

Bea Evans, Ripple Effect Journeys founder, received her Good Travels Advisor certification on November 23, 2016. 

The Good Travels Advisors (GTA) program from Tourism Cares is a training program and learning community of travel agents committed to promoting good giving and good volunteering among travelers. Effective giving and travel fulfills the good intentions of travelers, boosts trip satisfaction and connections, and increases the benefit to local communities.

We invite you to join the Ripple Effect Journeys community.  Subscribe to our blog or join in on Facebook.  Travel with like-minded women.  Experience the wonder of new places.   “See” a destination beyond the sights.  Learn about issues impacting women and girls in countries you visit.  Explore the meaning of learning service.  Discover how you can make a difference by supporting someone’s journey.   It’s fun, it’s memorable, it’s “good travels”.

Good Travels Advisor
‘Tis the Season for Good Travels!

Inspiration and tips for an especially meaningful holiday.

As a certified Good Travels Advisor, I am delighted to share a particular magic of the season – the smiles, joy and caring that comes with giving to others.

The job of a Good Travels Advisor goes beyond superb travel advice and service – we are also guides to meaningful experiences and giving in the communities we hold dear, near and far.

Here are 6 special ways to celebrate the giving spirit this year!

1. Looking for beautiful gifts that also make a difference? Here’s a very special list of 7 items that also directly help a cause, whether its breast cancer, Cambodian girls, anti-trafficking, endangered species conservation, and more – choose one gift and cause, or all!

2. Discover the surprising way you can actually buy happiness, along with other TED Talk inspiration. Watch Michael Norton on How to Buy Happiness; spoiler alert — the key is not to buy for yourself but to give to others, with great stories and data to prove it! Also check out Bill and Melinda Gates and their reflections on wealth and giving, starting off with an anecdote about their very first trip to Africa.

3. Find your favorite quote on giving while sipping some egg nog, scotch or tea. Peruse this list of philanthropic quotes from the National Philanthropic Trust, which includes James Baldwin: “We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.”

4. Give yourself and give for others. Here’s a list of 12 surprising charitable giving options that will likely tickle anyone’s curiosity and inspire you to explore and act, in addition to what you may give to your favorite organizations and in your hometown community. There’s also a shorter list for engaging your kids!

5. Use the new year to revisit your giving overall, along with your resolutions. Your guides include “How to be smart about charitable giving over the holidays” and tips from Guidestar, the national nonprofit database.

6. Think about giving back to a destination you care about, or a place following a disaster. What are your favorite places far from home, domestic or overseas? Think about the special experiences you’ve had in the last year or two and where you think you can make a difference, even with a small charitable donation. Think back to the nonprofits, museums and community organizations you encountered – or look up the local “community foundation,” a hub for local giving. It’s a great way to connect as a family and get back in touch with places you love. Alternatively, think of a place that was hit by a disaster this year; look into the latest and make a gift to the first one that comes to mind.

Good Travels Advisors make a differenceGood Travels Advisor Partners

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The Love of Humanity – Blending Travel and Philanthropy

Powerful forces are created when travel blends with the love of humanity.Blending philanthropy with travel creates powerful forces for good. Imagine seeing the sights you long to see while also making a difference in the world. That’s philanthropic travel.

Philanthropy As a Noun or as a Verb?

Let’s start by defining philanthropy. The word philanthropy is derived from ancient Greek and means the “love of humanity.” It encompasses the desire of people to understand and support one another. Today, philanthropy is often thought of as the practice of supporting a cause financially for the purpose of improvement.

But what if we thought of philanthropy as a verb? What if philanthropy were acts of love for humanity? How does that mindset change impact the scope of philanthropy? And how can these acts of philanthropy enrich our travel experiences while positively impacting the global communities we visit?

Travel and the “Love of Humanity”

If you’ve had the good fortune to travel, stop a moment to remember the sense of anticipation you felt before leaving home. Recall the places you looked forward to seeing, the experiences you dreamed about. Now, think about being on vacation and the pictures you took. Breathtaking vistas, places steeped in history, tranquil scenes. People going about their daily lives, colorful markets, unique forms of transportation. A variety of experiences you don’t want to forget.

A picture worth a 1000 words

Do you remember the fun you had sharing your experiences with others? Chances are the real sharing was not done via pictures. Chances are, it was the story you told about the picture that created the really interesting, fun or inspiring message. Pictures capture a moment in time and illustrate the setting and characters in your story. It’s up to you to describe the plot. Here’s where the “love of humanity” comes in. Really good stories tell a tale about how characters, you and those you meet, are changed by their interaction.

Good stories often feature meaningful travel experiences

People travel for lots of different reasons. Here are a few: relaxation, learning, to meet people, adventure, personal growth, romance, family time, business, health, to explore something new, to see life through a different lens.

Many travelers desire authentic experiences that enable them to connect with people in the places they visit. They “live out a love of humanity” en route. Here are three ways you can add the depth of philanthropy to your next journey.

Eat and Shop As a Travel Philanthropist

1. The act of philanthropy through the restaurants you choose

Preparing for a recent trip to Peru, I learned about Restaurant Aldea Yanapay in Cusco. Described as a funky place with good food, the proceeds from this restaurant support Aldea Yanapay, a home for children. Going out to eat and trying different foods is a highlight for many travelers. And the fact that my purchase helped to support a worthy cause was like icing on the cake!

Eating at Friends International restaurants engages you in an Act of Philanthropy.

There are several Friends International restaurants in Cambodia created with a larger purpose in mind. Not only is the food delicious, its presentation is exquisite. The young people working as waiters and cooks are part of a culinary arts training program for marginalized youth supported by Friends International in partnership with TREE Alliance. Tourism in Cambodia is growing in popularity, and trained service workers are needed. The training these young people receive opens the employment-opportunity door resulting in empowered lives. And those of us lucky enough to dine there are part of the solution through our act of philanthropy.

As you prepare to travel, have fun looking for places to eat where you can make a difference.

2. Support Local Social Entrepreneurs

After a wonderful meal at Friends Restaurant in Phnom Penh, we wandered over to Nailbar, another program of Friends International. Here, girls receive training on how to give massages, manicures and pedicures, indulgences travelers often enjoy. Many hotels and spas offer these services, so there is a high demand for trained employees. Speaking from personal experience, these girls are learning the skills needed. Located adjacent to Nailbar is a gift shop featuring handmade items by young people in the Friends International community. (But I’m getting ahead of myself – more on shopping below!)

Arturo Rojas is the founder of Lima Tasty Tours in Peru. Members of his extended family were some of the original settlers in Villa el Salvador, considered one of the largest squatter settlements in the world. Thanks to strong community leaders, this area has become a thriving and productive home to many. Arturo began Lima Tasty Tours because he is excited about Peruvian food, and its influence and impact on Peruvian culture. While his company falls more in line with a small business as opposed to social entrepreneurship, it showcases and supports local producers and restaurateurs. “Que Buena Causa,” one of the tours offered by this tour company, involves a visit to a local comedor (a local soup kitchen) and artisan’s home. Before arriving to the comedor, Arturo and his guests stop at a local grocery store to purchase items to be used for future meals. Guests then exchange food items for the opportunity to visit, help with cooking and enjoy lunch. Such an experience is not a typical form of travel or philanthropy. However, it is a social enterprise that benefits the traveler and the local residents.

A visit to a local comedor with Lima Tasty Tours.

 

3. Shopping That Makes a Difference

Travelers often wish to return home with gifts for friends and family. Plus, it’s always fun to select something for yourself as a keepsake of your memorable time exploring another part of the world. For some, seeking out the right treasures is a fun vacation activity. It can also be an act of philanthropy as it supports local artisans and projects around the world.

Remember the gift shop I mentioned next to Nailbar in Phnom Penh? Here gift items made by a young people involved with Friends International are tastefully displayed. Jewelry, coin purses, zipper pouches and even cookbooks featuring Friends International restaurant recipes can be purchased.

Purchasing craft items from artisan cooperatives is an act of philanthropy

There are numerous artisan cooperatives in Guatemala where weavers demonstrate their craft and sell their products directly to travelers. Years ago, I had the opportunity to visit UPAVIM, a women’s cooperative located in Guatemala City’s Zona 12, an area of the city with few opportunities and even fewer resources. Members of this cooperative developed a vibrant handicraft business that now sells items locally as well as internationally. This income-generating project resulted in the women’s ability to create a variety of educational and heath care programs serving local children and their families.

IMG_0198_opt

In a previous blog post, Philanthropic Travel Enriches the Journey, I mentioned Theodosia, an artist supported by Paraguay Hecho a Mano. Founded by Osvaldo Codas, Paraguay Hecho a Mano’s recognizes the artistic ability of local artisans. For many of the artisans, the sale of their crafts is the only source of livelihood. Providing or finding marketplaces where artisans could earn a fair wage for their work  was a goal of the organization. Purchasing a craft item created by an artisan associated with Paraguay Hecho a Mano, as I often did in the Hotel del Lago’s gallery, allowed me to buy a gift and yet give the gift of livelihood to another. Philanthropy in action.

Philanthropy Helps You Look Beyond When Traveling

Look beyond what's in front of you

Andrew Zimmern said  “Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.”

Try incorporating Acts of Philanthropy into your travels. Doing so will enable you ‘to understand this amazing world we live in’. After all, it is this understanding that allows us to demonstrate a “love of humanity” which is at the heart of philanthropic travel.

Bea Evans

Bea Evans

By  Bea Evans
Founder, Ripple Effect Journeys

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Welcome to The Ripple Effect Journeys Blog

Together, we’ll:
• learn about issues women and children face around the world
• discuss the meaning of philanthropy
• meet grassroots organizations focused on empowering the people they serve
• explore links between travel and philanthropy
• create a community of globally minded individuals
• discover a sense of meaning.

We look forward to getting to know you!

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