|Soleil - a Passport Party Project participant - taking her very first domestic flight.|
When I think about traveling good, I often think about the girls that get their first passports via The Passport Party Project, an initiative I founded that helps to create global citizens out of American underserved girls.
I wonder if the seeds this grassroots global awareness initiative tries to plant about traveling responsibly and responsively will actually take root and grow, and if the lessons that travel brings about that my volunteers and I have tried so hard to get across actually gets across.
Perhaps Travelanthropy: People Who Travel Good - an ongoing series about travelers + givers - might add a bit of fertilizer to this proverbial garden of young girls ready to take on the world by encouraging them to turn their empathy into action. Big or small. Here or there. In person or online. That is a part of the plan for these impressionable seedlings.
|Cape Coast, Ghana. Circa 2005. Photo Credit: @SojosSojourns|
Name: Sojourner Walker
City/State: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Small business owner, Freelance Writer & Travel Blogger
Age When You Got Your First Passport: 22
Languages: English, Conversational Portuguese and French
Blog: Sojourner's Sojourns
Bio: A former NYC public school teacher fascinated and enamored with travel, culture and landscapes, Sojourner Walker is a fiction and travel writer, enthusiastic yogi and curious traveler. Currently working on a collection of short stories, she splits her time between Brooklyn, New York and Brandywine, Maryland.
Tell Us About Your Last Volunteer Vacation: I traveled to Inhambane, Mozambique and worked as a Development Instructor for six months with the Institute for International Cooperation and Development. My job was to train students at a teacher’s training college in effective classroom techniques for introducing primary aged students to the English language. I was also engaged in an agricultural project where we created a campus garden to provide the community with sweet potatoes, pumpkins, lemons and onions.
Tell Us About Your First Volunteer Experience (Travel or Otherwise): My introduction to volunteerism began at the age of 14. While I was in high school, I spent my Saturdays volunteering at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. I worked on the pediatric play-deck where I rocked infants, sang with toddlers, colored with elementary aged children, and played video games and table tennis with teens my age and older.
|Teaching in Mozambique. Photo Credit: @SojosSojourns|
Tell us about your next travel volunteer experience: My next volunteer travel experience will take place this July in Ochos Rios, Jamaica. I’m still working out the particulars but I’m excited because I’ll be introducing my two year old son to international volunteerism this round.
Best and worst thing about volunteer travel: The best thing about volunteer travel is that it personalizes the experience. You become so much more than a mere tourist. You meet, interact with and befriend local people, and get a greater sense of the culture. It is also great to give back to a host country, particularly if that country is a developing one. I like to be involved; I’m not an observer. If I have to chose a worst, I would say dealing with frustration. Different countries and cultures operate so differently than what I’m used to in the United States. At times, it can be so frustrating because it appears that there is no organization, or structure, but it’s just not the organization and structure that I’m used to (being from the West). That is always a difficult battle. I’m hyper punctual and organized and that’s not exactly a quality that’s exemplified in other parts of the world.
Advice for those that want to travel + give: Go, go, go! There are so many volunteer programs and opportunities available. Do your research and choose an adventure that is right for you. A lot of people think they don’t have time to volunteer travel, but you really only need a week in some cases. If you’re interested in say a year off or two, there are definitely programs that cater to that as well. There are many free volunteer programs, a lot of people are turned off by the notion of paying to volunteer.
Why you travel + give: I’m naturally a socially active person. I get super fired up by a lot of the inequalities in my own back yard and around the world. Volunteer travel in the developing world is my way to contribute to various causes. I know this sounds cliché, but you really do take more away than you ever can give. The friendships that you form can last a lifetime and there’s something so special about gaining intimate access to another culture and way of life. I am motivated and fueled by such exchanges.
Your favorite travel quote: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~St. Augustine
Photo Credit: @iluv2globetrot
Name: Nicole Brewer
City/State: Nizwa, Oman
Occupation: English Lecturer
Age When You Got Your First Passport: 21
Languages: English, basic French, basic Korean
Blog: I Luv 2 Globetrot
Bio: A graduate of the University of Michigan with a BA in Communications, Nicole is an English language teacher by day and a travel blogger/writer by night with a future goal of starting her own NGO. Nicole has recently been accepted into a Masters program in Germany to study International Humanitarian Action and Community Development and is looking forward to giving back to youth and helping mold them into future global citizens.
Tell Us About Your First Volunteer Experience (Travel or Otherwise): I volunteered for StreetLife Care Organization a few months ago in Nairobi, Kenya on my semester break where I helped feed runaway kids. I also visited a local orphanage with some other volunteers from the volunteer house where I lived.
|At the orphanage. Photo Credit: @iluv2globetrot|
Tell us about your next travel volunteer experience: I'm looking for ways to volunteer with women's and/or children's organizations in Oman before I leave although finding volunteer opportunities as an expat has been a bit of a challenge.
Best and worst thing about volunteer travel: The best thing is the feeling of gratification and knowing you're doing your small part to make a difference in this big world. The smiles and joy on the children's faces that I saw, even for the short time that I was there, made it all worthwhile. The worst thing is the fear that your efforts won't be kept up in the future.
Advice for those that want to travel + give: Do your research! Take the time to look into the organization and make sure it is a reputable company and that they are actually looking for volunteers to contribute what work they can and are not just looking for a paycheck (i.e., you to pay fees to volunteer and do not do any volunteer work).
Why you travel + give: Because I want to make a long-standing difference in this world. The best way to be happy is make others happy.
Your favorite travel quote: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine
He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.
Click here to read Travelanthropy: People Who Travel Good (Part 1)
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