23 November 2009

what is "the global citizen project?"

“I never went to Europe,” my mother sighed in a Percocet-induced state of delusion. (That comment was followed up with “And I can never have sex again,” but I readily ignored that statement.) It was a Thursday night in 1990, exactly two weeks before my mother’s 38-year-old body would surrender to metastatic lung cancer after a brief, half-year battle. At the time of her diagnosis, I was 17 years old, and the “C” word made me take a step back, examine my life and redefine what I wanted it to mean. As a result, my mother’s words have inspired me to live my life fully, spontaneously and with purpose. Okay, maybe it’s also been influenced by some strong-willed Taurus tendencies (the blessing/burden of sharing a birthday with Earth Day), but regardless, I’ve made deliberate choices to live a life of travel and authenticity.

January 2010 marks the 12-year anniversary of my career as a freelance travel, food and lifestyle journalist. 2010 also marks the 20th anniversary of my mother’s passing. Nice round dates, numbers and new years seem like a good time for introspection, and I’ve decided to refocus my personal and professional efforts.

So, here’s what I propose. I’ve given a lot of thought to what aspects of travel teach and inspire me and it comes down to the beauty, virtue and power of the people I cross paths with. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to spend time in communities around the world, including Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, and Chile. It is clear to me that despite the countless cultural differences, we all have dreams, we all strive for happiness and, really, we’re all not so different.

In an attempt to understand, connect and contribute, it is my plan to swap my BlackBerry for a backpack and volunteer around the world as part of what I’m calling, “The Global Citizen Project.” I would like to volunteer with 12 community projects in 12 countries over 12 months. I know it’s impossible to save the world with bite sized stints of service, but I want to give something to the bigger picture, spread the love around, share my experiences in an editorial capacity via this blog, social media and a eventually, a book, and promote responsible travel and volunteer tourism.

I am in the process of creating a “wish list” itinerary of volunteer projects I feel my skills are best suited for, spanning 12 different countries and 12 areas of service (i.e.; health education, eco-tourism, reef conservation, sustainable farming, national park service, etc.). I am seeking a KickStarter.com invitation (fingers crossed) to help fundraise money for this project, as well as brainstorming creative sponsorships. Thankfully, I have a lot of frequent flyer miles banked, but am fairly certain, no matter where I go, I won't log anywhere near 150 flights in the process. I promise to keep readers posted with details as they come together. Right now, I'm shooting to embark on this adventure in June 2010. I’m very much a “Believe it, achieve it” kinda gal (ask me how my first book got published sometime), so if anyone has any insights or ideas to share, please feel free to shoot me an email at cpfeuffer@yahoo.com. Thank you for reading.

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