Today I am feeling wowed by the work of GRACE Cares, which funds small-scale international community development projects. The organization also creates opportunities for intercultural exchanges among people interested in donating and volunteering on the projects and those who will benefit from the projects.
Two things fascinate me about GRACE Cares. The first is that it's founders recognize that small actions make a difference on the ground, in daily ways, to many people. So they work with locals who have vision, community connections, and the cultural understanding that can result in positive change and continued growth and well-being.
The second thing I love about this organization is that it does not just offer potential donors or volunteers the opportunity to throw money, or a few days or weeks of support, at issues such as poverty, inadequate education, or natural disasters in the hopes that they might make a difference. Rather, GRACE Cares understands that in order for intercultural interactions to result in positive, lasting change they must be reciprocal, genuine, and ideally on-going. The work that's done is built on relationships.
GRACE Cares works in many areas, including education, nutrition, literacy, and violence prevention around the world. You can get involved by donating, volunteering, fundraising and more. Learn about the details of their model, their successes, and their current projects on their website at: www.gracecares.org or on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gracecaresvt?fref=ts.
Travel done well can be a catalyst
for positive change in our lives and in the lives of others.
This on-going series of interviews looks at how that happens.
Kelly McDonald is a nurse in Asheville, North Carolina. Travel and service to others have always been a part of her life. She has been a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, and has worked with Doctors Without Borders in Guatemala, Niger, West Africa, Haiti, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo. She and her husband, Connor, spent the past year traveling in 18 countries. Here are some ways that travel has added value to Kelly's life:
One of the most powerful interactions on our world trip was staying with a family in Ladkah, India for three weeks. Even though they didn't speak too much English and we didn't speak Ladakian, we were still able to communicate for the most part. We had so many great laughs in the process. They took us in and made us feel like part of their family. We ate meals with this gracious family in their typical way, on the floor with a small table. It was a very rewarding and beneficial experience but more for us I'm sure. The mother of the house showed me how to milk a cow, and taught Connor how to cut the barley in the fields when it was ready. We learned how to make their typical food, momo's, filled with meat and veggies. Overall, it was a very special and memorable time on our journey and made even more special because their village is where Connor proposed to me.
Love + Wisdom
Connor and I learned a lot about each other over the course of the year. We learned that sometimes you just have to go with the flow. We also learned that you must pick your battles! I think we also learned how to support one another but also how to allow one another to have personal space. Traveling is the best way to learn about a partner. We got engaged and then married on our trip!
The Power of Place
New Zealand is one of my favorite places. The lifestyle in New Zealand is more laid back and easy-going, and there is a great quality of life. It's a paradise offering beautiful beaches and coves, and deep forested mountains, wonderful for trekking which we did a lot of. There are magnificent fjords on the Southern Island.
We also loved Nepal, a very magical and spiritual place. We spent 6 weeks here, where we spent one week volunteering in rural village, ten days trekking on the Annapurna and 10 days at a yoga and mediation center. The Nepalese are such kind and generous people. It's a country we will definitely get back to.
We thoroughly enjoyed every country we visited--18 countries over the course of a year. We learned and gained so much!
The Gifts of Travel
Once you start traveling you realize how many more countries spark your interest. So you put them on your list and the list grows endless.
Traveling has definitely opened my mind to the many thousands of different cultures, ethnicities, and customs the world has to offer, and to the diversity of our universe. There is always so much to learn and appreciate.
Read more about Kelly's year of travel at: http://connorandkellymarchforth.com/
Just because you see or hear something doesn’t mean you know how to appreciate or understand it. Especially given the nuances of culture, language, history, and the whole gamut of what it means to bring our experiences together with the experiences of others and make sense of them together.
In my family, we’re always looking at how we can increase our understanding of places and people beyond our door. See some things that have worked well for us in my latest blogpost for Small Planet Studio: http://www.smallplanetstudio.com/2015/07/15/3-simple-ways-to-help-your-kids-meet-the-world/#sthash.GbRqgSaq.dpuf
Whether we visit for a day, or live in a place for years, I think the reason we love a certain place is because we love ourselves more when we are there.
Read about the ways BriBri nurtures me in my latest Small Planet Studio post--and think about how places have nurtured you: //www.smallplanetstudio.com/2015/06/17/how-living-in-bribri-helped-me-wrap-my-arms-around-who-i-really-am/#sthash.gJrVuPSQ.dpuf
Your ability to appreciate an experience can be obscured by so many things. Having a physical reminder you can turn to during and after a journey can help you remember what makes you laugh, who helps you along the way, and how lucky you are to be having experiences that move you beyond your life before your travels. - See more at my latest Small Planet Studio Blogpost: http://www.smallplanetstudio.com/2015/05/20/creative-ways-to-enhance-remember-your-intercultural-experiences-and-a-poem/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=CateBrubaker&utm_content=Creative%20Ways%20to%20Enhance%20and%20Remember%20Your%20Intercultural%20Experiences%20(and%20a%20Poem).
Hi, I'm Deidra
To me, transformative travel means traveling in a way that connects you to places and people in a profound way., being real and present with what is happening while you travel and recognizing the impact travel has on your life beyond your journeys.