Big Kids! Groundswell 40+: Never too old for ethical travel

As you may know, Operation Groundswell is changing a lot. For starters, we’re growing a lot. It was a little less than six years ago that Jonah Brotman and David Berkal ran their first trip to West Africa with 11 participants and 11 backpacks in tow. What drove them to undertake such a difficult project?

Jonah and David believed – and still do believe – that ethical travel truly shapes and changes a person. Over and over again, we’ve seen it with our own eyes. Alumni who keep returning back to a region to volunteer and organize within communities, alumni who tell us they’ve found a a new direction in their life, alumni who have jumped into new careers, new relationships and new lifestyles.

So why does ethical travel change a person? There’s a bunch of reasons. Firstly, it pushes you out of your comfort zone and into new experiences. Once you’re pushed out of that zone, you see your own potential for growth and keep on pushing. You start taking risks, you laugh more, you have more energy, and you feel alive. Secondly, your relatively sheltered life gets bombarded by new cultures and new people whose ideas and beliefs will bounce around your brain changing the way you fundamentally understand the world. Ethical travel also allows you to decide the person you want to be. So much of our character is shaped by the people around us. Growing up, our communities, teachers, family and friends constantly reaffirm who we are. We are cast into roles and expected to play our part. When you travel, you leave all that behind and have a chance to start fresh. You have a chance to decide who you are without anyone there to interfere.

Some people might think that ethical travel is only useful in your formative stages. While you’re still young and impressionable. Guess what? Our whole life is one giant formative stage. Opinions and personalities are constantly being crafted and rewritten. We tend to see our 20’s as a time of opportunity. A last chance before we delve into marriages, careers and child-rearing. I say that’s garbage. Life is one giant pinball machine of opportunities that we bounce around in. We might begin to lose sight of some opportunities as we grow older, but we can still feel their presence as we roll through life.

When we first started OG, we thought that this sort of organization should focus on youth, the ones who can drive grassroots change in this world. Six years later, a little older and a little wiser, we realized that anyone and everyone should have the opportunity to make a change in themselves and the world. We believe in Groundswell 40+ because we know our partners aren’t just those close to us in age, but those close to us in vision. We believe in Groundswell 40+ because we know that there`s no time like the present to jump into a new experience. We believe in Groundswell 40+ because everyone has their part to play in changing the world. Check out the plan here.