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Author: Anna Cunningham

South Asia

Navigating Privilege and Perspective with Ecosphere

Travelling as a Westerner means encountering complex issues of power and privilege daily, carrying coded wealth and imperialism everywhere you go. Ethical choices are not always easy to spot, especially when navigating across cultures. For me, participating in a trip through Operation Groundswell meant embracing this challenge head on, and exploring the ideas of cultural exchange, privilege, and ethics with each step on the ground.

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Southeast Asia

12 Life Lessons I Learned From OGSEA Summer 2016

1. There are some things you simply cannot do alone… No matter how independent or capable you think you are.

2. Uncomfortable is not defeated.

3. Hand shakes, high fives, or what some know as a “thumbs up”, are not internationally recognized gestures of positive reinforcement or a person’s friendly demeanour. However, smiling and eye contact is.

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South Asia

For Love of Cows

I don’t know where my love for cows came from, but it’s a very serious love and at times comical. Cows and India have always gone hand in hand; their sacred status in India seems to resonate with my love for them, and had a large impact on my choice to travel here. It seemed like a no-brainer.

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South America

Mountains

“Sleeping bag?” I asked myself.

“Check,” I replied, as I recalled the packing list for the hundredth time.

Once I was sure that I had jammed all of the essentials into my backpack, I made my way out to the dining table to meet the rest of my group. Eager faces and towering backpacks greeted me as we all sat down to eat breakfast.

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South America

Sin Justice, Sin Peace

During our first few days of OG’s first ever Explorations at Altitude program, we found ourselves in the office of Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras (DHSF, or Human Rights Without Borders) in Cusco, Peru on May 21. The theme of the program is environmental rights and mining justice across Peru and Bolivia, drawing participants that are both passionate and driven by these subjects, and who each have a unique perspective to bring to the group and the partners we visit.

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Photo by Alex Arsenic De Castro
Southeast Asia

Rosie the Rosewood Tree

We recently had the opportunity to work alongside Freeland, an anti-wildlife trafficking organization in a National Park in eastern Thailand. Upon meeting the park rangers there, we learned that not just the wildlife in the park is at stake, but also their home: the forest itself. Specifically, the rangers told us about the illegal poaching of the rosewood tree.

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Central America

Food Sovereignty in Guatemala

Food security initiatives can take many forms. In the past, I have seen educational supermarket tours that help low-income families learn how to get the most nutritional foods out of each paycheck. I have seen backyard chickens fortifying the diets (and gardens) of people living in food deserts.

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Southeast Asia

The Whirling Rainbow Prophecy

Since being in Cambodia, I have seen two halos around the sun. While there is obviously a scientific reason, there is also an amazing spiritual one. Great spiritual teachers called this the “Whirling Rainbow” prophecy.

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South America

Acclimatising to Cusco

I think we can all admit that when our plane landed in Cusco we were excited, but that initial taxi ride up to the hostel had us re-evaluating our physical and mental strength. It wasn’t even worth counting the number of stairs once we reached 107. We already knew that Meg and Gordon had thrown us into the lion’s den, but little did we know that it was a blessing in disguise to prepare us for the adventures ahead.

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Southeast Asia

When Dreams Come True

Every day that I’m on this adventure I wake up ecstatic. It doesn’t matter if I’ve just spent the night sleeping on the floor of a home stay, if my room lacks A/C, if my shower has no water, or if I’ve spent the night sharing my bed with some questionable six-legged creatures.

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East Africa

Recognizing Your Privilege

We’ve been in Tanzania for about one week, and it’s been quite the experience. After a 48-hour span of flights, I was immediately surrounded by 12 strangers from the U.S. and Canada, all excited to get to know each other and see what the next forty days had in store. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I was ready.

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West Africa

A Great Day to Have a Great Day

“It’s a great day to have a great day.”

We were all mentally preparing ourselves for this 6-8 hour hike in the scorching heat, but what we weren’t mentally prepared for was hiking that in the middle of a thunderstorm.

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OG Headquarters

Solutions to Mainstream Sustainable Tourism

A couple of weeks ago, I had the unique experience of representing Operation Groundswell at the Travel+Social Good Global Summit. Taking place at the United Nations Headquarters, OG joined a number of other leaders within the travel and tourism space to develop a realistic road map that would push our industry towards creating deeper positive impact and social change.

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The Open Road

After years of running programs all around the globe, we take a moment to reflect on our journey… Get started on yours.

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