29 April 2011

media mention: planetfruitbat - anglo, spaniard, anglo, spaniard – latest antics…

Fellow Pueblo Inglès participant, Adam Barratt, was kind enough to mention me and TGCP in a recent post on his blog, PlanetFruitBat. His blog is "about traveling the world with champagne dreams on a tap water budget" and I can't wait to spend some time poring over his posts. Thank you, Adam for the digital love.

new post: women on their way: why on earth would you ever pay to volunteer?

"Why on earth would you ever pay to volunteer?" is a question frequently asked in the do good-o-sphere. It's a perfectly valid query considering some voluntourism opportunities cost upward of $1000 (and more) per week.

I share some thoughts on the topic of paid versus unpaid voluntourism in my latest column for Wyndham World's Women on Their Way Jane Air Crew blog here.

28 April 2011

WWOOF your way around the world

What is WWOOFing? Well, for short, it is your ticket to an incredible farming experience in one of over 50 countries in the world. Think of any country and they are likely to have WWOOF hosts there, ready to take you in with open arms.

The acronym stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, but some still refer to it as Willing Workers On Organic Farms. People of varying experience levels and all ages (although, usually a minimum age of 16) have been taking advantage of this excellent program since it started in the UK in 1971.

Read the rest of this fantastic article on humanitarian travel on CNN.com here.

27 April 2011

chris hughes on what’s next for nonprofit social site jumo

Talk about competition for attention: There are 1.5 million registered nonprofit groups in the U.S. Beyond the well-known names like the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society, the struggle to stand out is enormous. That’s where Jumo comes in, said Chris Hughes, Jumo’s founder and executive director and a cofounder of Facebook.

Read the rest of the Forbes article here.

25 April 2011

10 great sites about volunteer travel

10 Great Sites About Volunteer Travel

earth day birthday volunteer at united way of king county’s community resource exchange

When your birthday falls on Earth Day, you can’t help but feel a sense of responsibility to give back to the greater good. So, last Friday I volunteered on the Social Media Team for United Way of King County’s Community Resource Exchange (CRE). The event was held at Qwest Event Center East Hall and was a one-stop shop of sorts connecting thousands of people experiencing homelessness with dozens of resources and services. Attendees could enjoy everything from a hot meal served by Farestart and free health services to legal counseling and employment training.

My role as a Social Media Team member was to document CRE and help put a face on the issue of homelessness. Another volunteer, Brady, and I wandered around the event, armed with a camera, Flip Video, notebook and BlackBerry. In many cases, attendees approached us, eager to tell their story. Others shied away from the camera, while others tried to use the request to wheel and deal some kind of payment. (No money exchanged hands.) It was beyond awesome to see attendee’s confidence increase with services as simple as a haircut, shave and nail care. Others received much needed services such as oral health care and extractions, eye exams and prescription glasses, and HIV and diabetes testing. The Seattle Humane Society was hand to keep an eye on the four-legged friends, while child care services were provided so parents could take advantage of the event without worry. Even the IRS was helping people file back taxes and handing out thousands of dollars in unclaimed refunds.

By the very nature of the event, many of the attendees were folks who had fallen on very hard times. But others were not the faces of homelessness that you’d expect. One extremely educated, well-spoken man, Jay, told me about how he lost his county job in 2006 after 18 years of employment. Since then, he’s had difficulty finding work with a liveable wage, so he bartends two nights a week and couch surfs. He was passionate about the issues surrounding homelessness, pegging its root causes to lack of adequate health care for all Americans, lack of jobs with liveable wages and our country’s reliance on “Black Crack” (or a need for clean energy). Jay told me he was accepted into University of Washington’s School of Law and hopes to someday be a political change maker. I have no doubt it will happen.

I saw potential in so many of the CRE attendees and feel strongly that events like United Way of King County’s Community Resource Exchange empower people to make positive changes in their lives. It was humbling and a privilege of be part of such an event and I know that the 300+ volunteers made a big difference in the lives of the 1800+ attendees. And that is the warm and fuzzy stuff that Earth Day birthday wishes are made of. Thank you, United Way of King County for coordinating such a successful event.

If you want to read some of the Social Media magic we made (we trended in Seattle!), you can find the #CRE2011 tweets here.

20 April 2011

let's talk: how to volunteer - at home and abroad

Americans like to give back. In 2010 alone, more than 63 million Americans volunteered their time. Here in Seattle, people volunteer on average 44.1 hours per year, according to VolunteerInAmerica.gov.

Last June, I swapped a successful career as a food, travel and lifestyle journalist for a backpack to volunteer with 12 community projects in 12 countries over 12 months – a project I conceived and call The Global Citizen Project. With one month to go, I’ve logged close to 800 hours of service in areas ranging from childhood educational development in Honduras and sea turtle conservation in Mexico to working on a permaculture farm in Portugal and building smokeless stoves in Panama. Most of my volunteer projects have been humanitarian focused, but I did throw in several efforts that benefit the planet, like nature and animal conservation, since my passion to help extends beyond people.

My one or two hour presentation (based on your organization or company’s needs), How To Volunteer - At Home and Abroad, will share my diverse domestic and international volunteer experiences, as well as an organized “how to” plan of attack for people who want to take their humanitarian efforts on the global road. This dynamic presentation will be packed with plenty of ‘insider’ tips, humor and anecdotes, as I’ve braved Dengue Fever, mudslides, and giant insects all in the name of volunteerism. It will also incorporate photos and handout materials, which participants can take home. I am very comfortable speaking in front of a group and have teaching experience ranging from speaking to high school students via Learning for Life, guest-teaching journalism classes at University of California San Francisco, co-instructing Writers.com’s Travel Writing Master Class, and most recently, providing more than 100 hours of English instruction and conversation through Pueblo Ingles’ linguistic immersion program in Cazorla, Spain. How To Volunteer - At Home and Abroad will inform, educate, and inspire attendees to engage in something greater than themselves.

I am available for speaking engagements as of mid-May 2011; fees vary. Please contact me at cpfeuffer (at) yahoo (dot) com with any queries or for a presentation outline.

With more than twelve years’ editorial experience, Charyn Pfeuffer is a well-respected veteran in the publishing industry. From food, wine and travel editor to copywriter, marketing consultant to author and ghostwriter, her successful career has involved her in all aspects of crafting the perfect editorial. She’s authored, co-authored and ghostwritten more than a dozen books and contributed to more than eighty publications, including TravelChannel.com, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Sunset, San Francisco Chronicle, National Geographic Traveler, Islands, DailyCandy.com, SPA, Seattle Weekly and Seattle Times.

In June 2010, Charyn launched The Global Citizen Project, a 12 community project, 12 country, 12 month volunteer tour de force. This year-long humanitarian project has been covered by more than 50 media outlets and chronicled since its inception on her blog (http://globalcitizenproject.blogspot.com). The Global Citizen Project was funded via Kickstarter.com, an online crowd funding platform and true testament to the almighty powers of social media: More than 200 people pledged more than $20,000 in 90 days; 45% of them strangers.

Charyn’s volunteer work has earned her the prestigious honor of a $5,000 Voluntourism Grant from Travelocity’s Travel for Good® Program in WE TV’s First Annual WE Do Good Awards Contest, in partnership with Ladies’ Home Journal. She is also Wyndham Worldwide’s Women on Their Way Voluntourism expert and writes a monthly column for its website. When Charyn isn’t traveling, she volunteers locally with United Way of King County, Food Lifeline and Marra Giving Garden. You can follow her volunteering adventures at @charynpfeuffer.

16 April 2011

pueblo inglés: the post-play report

Full confession: I had my doubts about Pueblo Inglés. Sure, the linguistic immersion program had come highly recommended by several writer friends, but I had trouble wrapping my language-learning challenged brain around an 8-day program that was, well, actually effective.

I’ve rendezvoused with Rosetta Stone more times than I care to share and spend on average, one-third of each year in Spanish-speaking countries. Yet still, my fluency ebbs and flows and is largely affected by cerveza consumption. Or ‘liquid courage,’ as I like to call it.

So when nearly three dozen Anglos and Spanish convened on a sidewalk near the Nuevos Ministerios metro stop in Madrid early one Friday morning, ready to embark on an 8-day linguistic immersion program, I really did not know what to expect. (I try to go into all volunteer programs with no expectations; I’m almost always pleasantly surprised.)

We drove six hours south to the idyllic digs of Coto del Valle, smack dab in the heart of Cazrola National Park. You could not ask for a prettier spot to take on the challenge of learning English. Surrounded by hulking mountains, lush greenery, waterfalls and wildlife, Coto del Valle is a remote slice of scenic Spanish heaven. And a carsick-inducing 45-minute drive from the nearest town, so there’s no escape for the weary.

I won’t lie. Volunteering at Pueblo Inglés is a big commitment. The program is highly regimented, and there are scheduled activities, every hour, on the hour from 9a.m. until 10:30p.m. (and often later). All participants speak English for well over 100 hours during the course of the 8-day program, so pace yourself and pack some throat lozenges. The first, and most important rule, of Pueblo Inglés is to never utter a word of Spanish. And not to get all mom on you, but it’s really important to get adequate sleep. There are plenty of windows of time to party, but the key to my Pueblo Inglés success was keeping a nightly, 8-hour date with Mr. Sandman.

The Pueblo Inglés program is a brilliantly orchestrated mix of make-your-head-ache-hard-work and shameless silliness. From one-on-ones and thought-provoking group activities and debates to theatrical presentations and conference calls, there is never a dull moment. But in between all the hard work lies the most beautiful, heartfelt moments with new friends over Spanish food, wine, new language and fantastic scenery.

For Anglos participants, Pueblo Inglés is a totally unique way to experience Spain and its culture. Where else can an Anglo traveler meet such a diverse cross-section of Spaniards from all over the country, each one eagerly willing to share their story? For some cost-conscious travelers, Pueblo Inglés served as an opportunity to take a feel good ‘time out’ from hostelling to live a four star lifestyle. For others, it was an excuse to come to Spain in the first place, then stay for leisure exploration.  Whatever the reason was for each Anglo participant, everyone gave the intense program their full attention and all.

It was the Spanish participants, though, that really humbled me and blew me away. I know this wasn’t an easy scenario for any one of them and they handled the stress and challenges and inevitable headaches with such incredible grace. They were relentless in their desire to learn, and for that, the Spanish have my utmost respect. I am grateful for my brave new friends and look forward to returning to this program in the future to help other Spanish wrestle and conquer the confusing English language. Now that I’ve seen it done, I’m a believer.

At the start of the program, Allan, the Pueblo Inglés Master of Ceremonies told the Anglo participants, “You will never see the fruit of your efforts here.” He was proven wrong on the return ride to Madrid when two of the Spanish, both of whom started at drastically different language levels, spoke fluently – in English – for six hours non-stop. Tears welled up in my eyes as I struggled with wanting to hug them for their valiant efforts or letting them carry on with what seemed like such an effortless conversation. I opted for the latter, but Isabel and Juan Carlos, please know how proud I am of you both. Pass the tissues, please.

I didn't leave Spain feeling my finest -- with the worst sore throat, semblance of a voice and jetlag. Would I trade this experience for anything? Heck, no. As emails from the Spanish come pouring in – in English – I’d like to think I played some small part in their newfound correspondence confidence. Now, it’s my turn to up the language ante and master my Spanish so I can properly reciprocate. After my week at Pueblo Inglés, I have all the inspiration I need. Muchas gracias.

15 April 2011

earth day volunteer opportunities in washington state

Bicycle Paper.com :: News :: Earth Day Volunteer Opportunities Abound

may project preview: help japan’s earthquake and tsunami survivors with 8 days of giving for japan

Inspired by Todd Wassel over at Todd’s Wanderings and his Blog for Japan campaign, I’ve decided to dedicate my final project of The Global Citizen Project (TGCP) to helping the survivors of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The earthquake and tsunami have caused extensive and severe damage in Northeastern Japan, over 9,500 people have been confirmed dead and another 16,000 are missing, and millions more affected by lack of electricity, water and transportation. The images of the destruction and suffering have shocked the world. However, with the World Bank reporting over 300 billion USD in damages and families torn apart there is a need for everyone to help both financially and emotionally.

Several weeks ago, Todd posted about his experience during the Japan earthquake and made a plea to readers to spread the word about helping Japan recover. His wife is from Tokyo and they are both professional aid and recovery workers with the United Nations. They have seen the recovery phase of the 2004 Tsunami up close and know there is a tremendous need to not only raise donations but to make sure those funds are used responsibly and are in the hands of organizations with not only technical expertise but also local knowledge.

Here’s where TGCP comes in. Since it isn’t feasible for me to go to Japan to lend a helping hand, I can offer my next best skill – social media fundraising magic.

From May 9th through May 16th, TGCP will host 8 Days of Giving to Japan. This 8-day digital event will tie-into Todd’s Blog for Japan efforts. A lot of people around the world want to help and have been donating to various international organizations (mainly the American Red Cross). Todd thinks this is great and with the money being transferred to the Japanese Red Cross this money will be used well. However, he also believes there is a need to donate funds directly to local Japanese organizations and NGOs that don’t have access to this type of fund raising. As such, he and his wife have put together a list of Japanese organizations that they know, trust and recommend to channel donations to.

8 Days of Giving to Japan will highlight a different Japanese aid relief organization each day and encourage people to donate directly to these recommended charities. All social media outreach will include #blog4japan, #8daysjapan and the highlighted organization’s hashtag.

Here are the recommended Japanese organizations:

Please consider donating to one or more of these organizations. All are local Japanese organizations, but links connect to English pages. Even a small amount like $10 is useful.

Peace Winds Japan is one of the largest Japanese organizations providing humanitarian relief such as food, clothing, fuel and medical supplies to the affected areas. You can donate here.

JEN is a well known NGO dedicated to restoring a self-supporting livelihood both economically and mentally to those who have been stricken with hardship due to conflicts and disasters. They are currently supporting emergency relief items such as food, woman’s hygenic items, clothes and other essentials to the survivors of the Japan Tsunami. You can donate here.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is donating food and essential items to the survivors of the tsunami. They also keep a well maintained English blog of their activities in Japan for the tsunami which you can follow here. You can donate here.

The Japan Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICF) is taking donations for their response to the tsunami that will focus on the reproductive health needs of women and mothers in affected areas. You can donate here.

Save the Children has been working in Japan for over 25 years. Their American partner is now collecting donations for them in English (which eliminates any credit card exchange charges. They have set up multiple child-friendly spaces in evacuation centers in Sendai City where displaced families are staying. They are also starting their long-term recovery plans to restore education and child care in communities ravaged by the disasters. You can get information on activities and donate here.

The Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA Japan) team is delivering essential medical services through mobile clinics and delivering relief goods to the nursing homes and schools (evacuation shelters) in Aoba and Miyagino Wards. You can donate here.

OXFAM Japan is working with two partners in Japan on providing support to those on the margins of society who might otherwise have difficulty accessing emergency relief. One group is assisting mothers and babies and the other is providing information to non-Japanese speakers living in Japan. You can donate here.

Habitat For Humanity Japan is still assessing the situation but will be involved in the reconstruction of housing once the emergency period ends. This is one of the most vital aspects of recovery and the homeless will need a lot of help to put their lives back together. You can donate here.

8 Days of Giving to Japan Line-Up

Monday, May 9 – Peace Winds Japan
Tuesday, May 10 – JEN
Wednesday, May 11 – Adra Japan
Thursday, May 12 – JOICF
Friday, May 13 – Oxfam Japan
Saturday, May 14 - AMDA
Sunday, May 15  Save The Children
Monday, May 16 – Habitat for Humanity

Extra Credit:  If you are unable to donate, please share this page with your friends, family and coworkers through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or any other outlet you can think of. The more people who see this page the greater the donations will be.

If you are blogger or have your own website, please see the Blog4Japan page to learn how you can utilize this appeal on your own site and help us reach even more people.

11 April 2011

media mention: go! overseas - how to volun-tour your way around the world

Big thanks to Sarah Palmer of Global Volunteer for her continued rockstar support of The Global Citizen Project and for being such an invaluable resource on international volunteering. She included TGCP in her article 'How to Volun-Tour Your Way Around The World' on Go! Overseas. Read Sarah's 'how to' guide on coordinating your own volunteer travels here.