A Year-End Letter from Malia Everette, Director Reality Tours
On behalf of Reality Tours here at Global Exchange, I'd like to take a moment to thank you for being one of our alumni. 2009 was a positive year for us and I am really proud of the incredible efforts of the Reality Tours family here in our San Francisco headquarters, as well as the energy, intelligence and vision of our program coordinators around the world. This past year, we launched new international destinations investigating human trafficking with our partners Not For Sale, we worked with over 30 different groups to customize Reality Tours, and we re-launched our Eco Cuba program after years of hiatus. In this new year, we are excited to launch new Fair Harvest delegations in the Dominican Republic and Nepal. As I look back over the busy months, I recall the excitement over President Obama's election and reflect upon his promise of engagement and diplomacy with the world. I remember my personal nervousness and positive elation when you, our alumni, responded so graciously to our Survey Monkey. We now know quantitatively what has been qualitatively true for decades: Reality Tours transform lives and inspire change! We also know where we need to improve, and where to keep strong, as we promote socially responsible travel.
As we start a new year, Global Exchange recommits to building people-to-people ties, and continuing our work from a spirit of ethical travel, education and social and environmental justice advocacy. Clearly, the need for Citizen Diplomacy continues, as the Obama Administration has not (hopefully, yet) made the sweeping policy changes for which we had hoped.
Please consider engaging with Reality Tours and the world in 2010 as a Citizen Diplomat in:
Or, if you have a group of professionals that would like to exchange with Cuba, feel free to email or call us to customize your own professional development programs!
We look forward to seeing you in the year to come!
Venezuela Speaks!: Voices from the Grassroots Book Release and Tour
Venezuela Speaks!: Voices from the Grassroots, a new book published by PM Press with the support of Global Exchange, will be available in bookstores in January. Building from on-the-ground experience and their work with Global Exchange's Reality Tours program, our Venezuela Reality Tour Directors, JoJo Farrell and Carlos Martinez, along with journalist Michael Fox, have compiled a collection of interviews with members of Venezuela's grassroots social movements.
From reading mainstream coverage of Venezuela, one is often left with the impression that President Chávez is the sole mastermind behind all that is taking place in the country. Venezuela Speaks! breaks from the Chavez-dominated focus of the international media to "set the international record straight about the realities on the ground, directly from the voices of those that are propelling the profound political changes taking place within the country".
The editors of Venezuela Speaks! will present the book in California between January 10th to the 18th, with a San Francisco book launch on January 14th . From January 20th to February 10th they will be touring the East Coast , from Washington D.C. to Boston. They are still organizing their schedules. If you or anyone you know are interested in hosting a presentation, please contact Carlos Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org. The presentations will include videos of some of the communities featured in the book. One of the activists interviewed in the book will also be joining the editors. For more information about the book, you can also visit the PM Press website (https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=169). With your support, we can elevate the vision and voices of Venezuelan activists attempting to create another world.
Please check our website for updated information: http://www.globalexchange.org/getInvolved/speakers/260.html
Afghanistan Past Participant note from Patricia J. Idler and Randy Idler
When I wrote to your office in a panic before I went to Afghanistan, I needed to have real authentic help in Afghanistan. Fear and paranoia are detrimental to any situation, and I suddenly was full of anxiety. I am not dismissing that there are very dangerous situations in the world, but I am not normally in a state of real fear. I needed someone to reassure me that there were normal Afghan people that want the same things for their families in Afghanistan that I want for my family. I needed to know that there would be someone that was my friend and knew the lay of the land, like a guardian angel. I needed to know that I would not hurt the US soldiers by coming to help and getting in the way. Global Exchange you provided me with guardian angels.
My hope was to find cobblers in Afghanistan that would want to sell their product to a nonprofit or for profit that would also give back a percentage to the little street children that do not deserve this awful situation. My hope was to help the economic situation in Afghanistan. We are not going to be getting our US service boys home, unless American citizens empower themselves and help out. The statement that there is nothing to fear but fear itself is a reality. American citizens have become so fearful of others. Global Exchange your love of people and the world made the difference. You brought me back to reality. You emailed me and said; we can design your trip; we can help you even if you have your trip planned. We have wonderful guides and drivers. Here are their emails. We have been very successful with our exchanges all over the world to every country. Would you like to contact people? Would you like to come see us in San Francisco? This simple reassurance allowed me to get back to work on my project. I would recommend you to the world traveler that hopefully wants to help the world. I wish I could express how grateful I am to organizations such as Global Exchange that want to replace fear with peace, prosperity and hope for mankind. The driver and guide you sent asked if they minded if they brought their kids. It was wonderful. We saw more of Afghanistan than we saw with other guides or on our own. We met our cobblers. We met Afghans everywhere. We were not targets, but we did dress with respect for the Afghan culture. We dressed like the Afghans, because we respect them and did not stand out. We met Babur and we walked back in time. We went to the Afghan markets and bought kites in the old city to fly on the hill on Fridays. We began to understand that you do not need to take items from America for the children, like harmonicas. One must buy from the Afghans for the Afghans. Items like bottles of water and simple things like food are wonderful items readily accepted. We began to see the little children and feel their hunger and realize that child labor laws here are even ridiculous. When your tummy is empty, is it better to starve? They would love to be able to work for food. Their begging is the sole supply of revenue for their families. Schools like Aschiana School try to educate the street children and help the families with small micro loans for business. Our countries are planets a part. My husband was so fearful before we went with the help of our guardian angels relaxed. He began to give to the children, "but you must give to all not just to some". We began to learn and listen to the store keepers on the empty streets. We began to understand the pride that has been taken from people that just want fair trade prices and to be treated like respectful business people. We began to make friends. Thank you for your help Global Exchange.The US soldiers want the situation to get better and return to their own families. Every American needs to pitch in and help the situation or we need to go home and help rebuild another way through groups such as Global Exchange.
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