Ecological concern is almost a prerequisite for existing in the world in 2012. Everywhere we look we see environmental disasters—irresponsible manufacturing, drilling, fracking, and dumping—that are imperiling our precious and delicate world every single day. It feels like an insurmountable obstacle when all of the things we use every day—the cars we all drive, the energy that fuels our homes, airplane fuel, the products we buy—all contribute to our landfills, to polluting our oceans, and to damaging the delicate balance of our climate. I was talking to my younger sister about this the other day and she said, “what can one person really do?” It was such a sad statement coming from an idealistic, smart, and savvy young woman. One person can do a tremendous amount of good: in small ways and in large ones. But we’re not a nation of individuals. We are a team. What we really need is to unify our people towards a common goal—saving the planet and her people.
Welcome to part two of our Ripple Effect interview with Amanda Brown, a photographer, writer, lauded volunteer and founder of the AWE International Good Works Foundation. Enjoy!
Welcome back to our new interview series, The Ripple Effect. The Ripple Effect explores the emotional impact of volunteer travel and its lasting effect on people’s lives. Today we’re speaking with Amanda Brown, a photographer, writer, lauded volunteer and founder of the AWE International Good Works Foundation. AWE, funded by the proceeds from Amanda’s children’s books, provides books, teaching supplies and volunteer teachers to under represented, marginalized communities around the world. Amanda’s mission: to touch lives with happiness; to push herself beyond her means; to explore, experience and share; and always to give back. This is part one of our interview with Amanda Brown, author, photographer, and volunteer extraordinaire! Check back in tomorrow for part two.
Cultural diversity is a phrase that could be used to describe an increasing swath of our world. Here in the U.S., the melting pot is constantly growing, as immigrants move here and have children, establishing communities across the country. Despite the immigration reformers in government, America has always been a place where people of all sorts can live side by side. This is one of the things I love the most about this country. But, while living surrounded by people of many different cultures is wonderful, it is no substitute for traveling to foreign countries, to experience other cultures in the places where they originated. We all become Americanized living here—we adapt, learn to cater to our environments, and, of necessity, leave a little bit of ourselves behind. We have an incredibly high standard of living in America. Even the poorest among us have access to goods and services that would be completely unavailable in much of the rest of the world. To truly learn about other cultures—to embrace the uniqueness, the authenticity—requires travel. It requires time spent in far off places meeting new people. It requires immersion without access to the comforts of home.
If you get your news from the alternative presses online, you may have been reading about volunteering for years. But for those of us who read the mainstream rags, it may seem strange that they haven’t picked up on the volunteering trend. The benefits of volunteering are so obvious—both for the volunteers themselves and for the people they are helping overseas. But, as with any trend, a critical mass is often necessary before the mainstream media will take a real, sustained notice. That’s why it has been so exciting for us here at Journeys for Good to see so many mainstream media outlets covering volunteering over the past few weeks. Most of the recent articles I’ve found have covered volunteering from the perspective of the volunteer—illustrating the opportunities that are out there for exploration, and encouraging people of all walks of life to consider traveling to help those in need all over the world. I hope, as the movement continues to build momentum, that the mainstream media will begin to cover specific projects—to explore the many ways in which those projects have benefited local communities and to explore the role of international volunteers in changing lives and making a difference.