In former President George Bush's January 2002 State of the Union speech, the phrase “axis of evil” was first used describing governments claiming to either support terrorism, seek weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), or both.
The countries originally included under this rubric were Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. At various times since then, other conservative commentators have listed Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela as being among those pariah states. Yet lumping together countries with a wide variety of governments — from dictatorships to full democracies — and a range of disagreements with the U.S. does little to help Americans understand the complex issues behind the simplistic rhetoric.
We are doing something to change that. For over 20 years, Global Exchange has worked for peace and social justice, and Reality Tours has given Americans the opportunity to travel to countries around the world and learn the truth about them first-hand.
As we wrap up 2011, we encourage you to work for peace, and to stay engaged and informed. We’d also like to extend a special thank you to a few of our alumni for sharing their insights this year. Here are a few of our favorite Citizen Diplomacy stories:
- Any day as an American in North Korea is sure to be an immensely rewarding and stimulating experience -- Jeremy Jimenez
- So, Why North Korea? -- Sophia Michelen
- Photographer Turns His Lens to Cuba -- Ron Herman
- Please Don’t Just Take it From Me -- Ken Yale
- American College Student Travels to Iran for First Time -- Alexa Stevens
In 2012, the Reality Tours program will continue to “Meet the People, Learn the Facts, and Make a Difference," on our scheduled “citizen diplomacy” delegations to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela along with almost 40 other destinations world wide including new destinations and old favorites like Egypt, Haiti, and Hawaii.
Customize a Reality Tour for Your Group
Did you know that over half of our departures are now customized? In 2011 over 40 groups worked with us to specifically create dynamic forms of educational travel, exclusively tailored to their particular interests and budget requirements. Contact me to customize your journey in 2012!
Enter the Global Exchange Reality Tours Photo Contest
We invite all past participants to enter in the Reality Tours Photo Contest for a chance to win great gifts! You might win a $100 coupon for Fair Trade products from our Stores, other Fair Trade gifts and a $500 discount off a future Reality Tour. Learn more about our 2011 Photo and Video Contest.
Reality Tours Wishes you, our Alumni and Citizen Diplomats a Wonderful 2012
Reality Tours Director (External Relations)
P.S. You make our work possible. Help us continue to build people-to-people ties. Make a special gift to Global Exchange.