Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Surprise Coming Your Way

I know I've been pretty quiet lately. It's because I've been working hard on redesigning Connvoyage!

I'm excited to unveil the new look shortly. Thanks for your patience and continued support!

For now, it's back to Asia I go, and finally realizing one of my dreams of volunteering with elephants!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Voluntourism - Impact or Impossible

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Voluntourism - Impact or Impossible."

Q1 via : What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to give voluntouring a go?
  • : Do it because you are passionate about volunteering and not because it looks good on paper
  • : See who the organizer really is. I found out halfway I was volunteering with a religious cult 
  • : Research, Research, Research. Check out lots of organizations and ask them lots of questions. Good ones will answer them all
  • :: Do it for right reasons, not on a whim. It may be a gap year for you but for them it's their life
  • : Do lots of research! Ask for advice and tips from people that have done it before 
  • : Really think about what it is you have to offer and ensure you can actually give the time you have agreed to 
  • : Make sure the organization is reputable and the causes involved are things you agree with or share in common
  • : Go with an open mind and willingness to work, but don't expect to save the world in a month
  • : Do your research. Always know exactly who they are and exactly what they expect from you
  • Do something in a field you love, something you're passionate about. Whether that's animals, environmental, building, etc 

Q2 via : Best voluntourism activity for a first-timer?
  • : Pick something that your comfortable with, that you think you'll enjoy and can contribute to 
  • : Start with something small - like help cleaning an old stadium for children to play in or help planting trees 
  • : Go with a friend so you can share the life-changing times. And rough out the hard days together
  • : Do something local, volunteering doesn't necessary have to involve long haul travel or developing countries
  • : Grow something! Whether it`s working on a farm or volunteering with a community garden, make an impact that`s sustainable 

 Q3 via : What was your most worthwhile voluntourism activity?
  • : Helping out at the food bank in Iceland. Felt good to be able to help others in need! Specially around Christmas
  • : Helping to rebuild parts of Pisco, Peru after it was destroyed by an earthquake
  • : When I spent two weeks at a childcare facility in Honduras, we took some paint/paper and did art with the kids in the afternoons  
  • : My most worthwhile was also my worst, in Cambodia. Learned SO many lessons on what to watch out for and better select in future
  • : Playing games with orphans in Jakarta, Indonesia. Love putting a smile on kids faces
  • : The hubs and I volunteered to help feed 3500 immigrant workers for Thanksgiving one year
  • : My most valuable voluntourism was digging trenches in India to stop elephant and locals conflicting

Q4 from : Which 3 things should potential volunteers look for in a credible volunteer program?
  • : Must not replace local work; must be sustainable/accountable; must not exploit 
  • : What impact will I make? Am I passionate about the project? Where is my money going?
  • : Check who's behind the organization,where money goes and try to find out what the local community thinks
  • : Financial transparency, safety, and of course...happy alumni
  • : Definitely get in touch with people who have used them, do proper research (beyond just their website)  
  • : Where does the money go? Do the locals really benefit? Has the organisation a good reputation? 

Q5 via : What info websites can you recommend for volunteers who are researching?

And there you have it, "Voluntourism - Impact or Impossible."  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Travel Buddies!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Voluntourism - Impact or Impossible" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Highlights from the Social Good Summit

Last week when I posted my thoughts the Social Good Summit, I mentioned that I didn't think it fostered as much "global conversation" as I would have hoped. Be that as it may, I did enjoy Mashable's Social Good Summit immensely as the speakers and presentations throughout the three day event were thought-provoking and engaging. I also must stress how important and relevant I thought the Social Good Summit was in terms of bringing more awareness to all the social good taking place around the world and how individuals like you and I can easily get involved through the use of technology and other social platforms.

In case you weren't able to attend in New York City, or watch all the live-streams, here are some of the best moments to come out of the Social Good Summit.

Dr. Hans Rosling makes numbers, charts, and child mortality rates fascinating

Top presentations I didn't think I'd be interested in:
  1. Dr. Hans Rosling, Professor and Chairman of Gapminder Foundation: Trends in Child Mortality and New Data (video starts at 3:30)
  2. Jessica Mason, YouTube: What Causes Can Learn from Cat Videos
  3. Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States: Unleashing the Power of Open Innovation in Government
  4. Rebecca Moore, Engineering Manager of Google Earth Outreach: How Google Earth is Changing the World
  5. Nick Kristof, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize Winner, and Asi Burak, Co-President of Games for Change: Social Gaming for Good

Childhood hero, Jane Goodall, almost made me cry - she's so incredible!

Emotional moments when I had to fight back my tears:
  1. Primatologist and childhood hero, Jane Goodall steps out onto stage and then proceeds to make chimpanzee calls
  2. Introduction to World Humanitarian Day, 2012 - particularly when a photo of my humanitarian hero, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, was shown
  3. Video, including footage of humanitarian work being done around the world, of Beyonce's "I Was Here" performance at the UN General Assembly
  4. Women of Haiti video singing about equality in Haiti
  5. Designed to Move video: Five Extra Years
  6. The ONE campaign's video taken in Honduras
  7. Excerpt of Refugees United's video on the work they do to reconnected families separated during their escape from war-torn countries

Muhammad Yunus talks about social entrepreneurism

Best quotes:
  1. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank: "I'm not afraid of change! I'm excited by it!"
  2. Forest Whitaker, Actor and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador: "Don't be afraid to care...Love grows. Love is a commodity that can expand once you start to use it."
  3. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of US Department of Homeland Security: "Practice good cyber hygiene,"  when asked what advice she would give internet users
  4. Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States: “You take the data that’s already there and jujitsu it, put it in machine-readable form, let entrepreneurs take it and turn it into awesomeness," on the uselessness of data that isn't applied for public benefit
  5. Rob Reich, Co-Director of Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society: "The British are coming, the British are coming! Please RT!" on how history would be different if social media had been present in those times
  6. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State: "We are living at a moment when anyone can be a diplomat. All you have to do is hit SEND" during her opening address to the audience at the Social Good Summit

What are some of your favorite moments from the Social Good Summit?

If you are interested in viewing other presentations at the Social Good Summit, you can visit the Mashable livestream for the archives.

© Connie Hum 2012

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