Author: Andrew Motiwalla

Nov
9

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Travel, the Antidote to Politics

Posted by on November 9, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

This morning the world woke up to election results that very few expected. While the United States is a much divided country, the expression of shock and disbelief from nations around the world was resoundingly singular.  America’s allies feel uncertain about its role in the world going forward.

Beyond Politics

However, the fabric of global society is held together by more than politicians.  It is a collection of millions of individual relationships between people of all nationalities.  While people around the world see one version of the United States on television, their perceptions are also shaped by every interaction with Americans that they have had.

Shared Humanity

As a fellow traveler, you know that everyone on this planet shares the same concerns and hopes: we desire well-being and security for our families, we cry when our loved ones suffer, and we rejoice when good things happen to our tribe. These expressions of shared humanity take on many forms in different cultures, but they have the same emotions at their core.

Citizen Diplomacy

Just as you may have experienced these expressions traveling in other countries, the local people were also watching you. Travel (at least the Discover Corps version of it) is a two-way experience. Whether you spent an afternoon practicing English with a kid in a plaza in Latin America, or shared a meal with a family in rural Thailand, or lent a hand building a house in Africa – you engaged in a form of citizen diplomacy.  You were one of the faces of America.  These types of interaction are more profound than a talking head on television; they are intimate, personal and their effects are long lasting.

You

So, despite the mixed signals our election sent the world, we – individual travelers – still hold the power to represent our ideals and values in the world. Our openness, generosity, kindness, and appreciation for diversity.  Now, more than ever, the world needs to come together around our shared humanity – the world needs you.

Aug
27

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Discover Corps Receives ‘Stride Preferred’ Designation

Posted by on August 27, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

We are happy to announce that Discover Corps was recently selected as a Stride Preferred operator on leading tour and reviews marketplace, Stride Travel. Stride is the largest reviews site for tours and adventure trips with reviews on itineraries and tour operators.

The selection of Discover Corps as a Stride Preferred operator supports our rigorous industry standards for quality, professionalism, customer service, and responsible travel.

Discover Corps is now among an elite group of worldwide tour operators who have received this distinction from Stride Travel.

We are always looking for unique ways to bring Discover Corps amazing collection of tours to more people, while ensuring that our customers can rely on the top notch customer service they expect from Discover Corps.

Our collaboration with Stride means that in addition to the Discover Corps website, tours such as Cuba – Celebration of Arts & Culture, Peru – Children of the Andes and Costa Rica – Protecting the Pacific are now searchable and reviewable on Stride. It is easier than ever to find great tours to Cuba and many other locations around the world.

This transparency ensures our clients will book their next Discover Corps tour, knowing they found the perfect trip for their travel style.

Oct
5

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Changing a Skeptic’s View of Volunteer Vacations

Posted by on October 5, 2015 · 1 Comment  

When Discover Corps founder Andrew Motiwalla invited me to experience one of his volunteer vacations to Cuba, I was initially very skeptical.

As a well-known travel blogger, I have long been an active voice in routing out corrupt volunteer tourism operations that rake in huge amounts of cash without contributing a penny to the people they claim to be helping. Even well-meaning volunteer programs often unknowingly pursue activities that do more harm than good.

So I wrote back, explaining my skepticism about the concept of volunteer tourism, and asked him to answer some very pointed questions before I could even consider taking one of his trips. Frankly, I expected him to balk, so I was genuinely pleased by Andrew’s thoughtful and detailed answers.

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Sep
23

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5 Ways Travel with Purpose is Better

Posted by on September 23, 2015 · 1 Comment  

Aimless wandering in a new place can lead to wonderful adventures of discovery. With no fixed schedule and no set agenda, you leave yourself the opportunity to stumble upon people, places and experiences that you might not have discovered otherwise. But there’s a big difference between not having a schedule and not having a purpose. One gives you freedom, but the other one leaves you aimless.

We believe that travel with purpose is better because it can help to illuminate every experience you have along the way. It’s like a spotlight shining on your path through a new place. You can still have the freedom to wander, explore and get a little lost. But when you travel with purpose, it’s like having a trail of breadcrumbs that makes it easier for you to find your way back.

Purposeful travel can take on a variety of different forms, from volunteer vacations in which you give your time and energy for a specific cause to focusing on a specific aspect of the culture you wish to explore. For instance, maybe you want to take dance lessons in different places along your trip, learn a new language from the locals, or try different kinds of food everywhere you go.

Voluntourism is a great way to travel with purpose, giving you a more focused and ultimately more rewarding experience along the way. Here are five great reasons why we feel purposeful travel is the very best kind:

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Sep
16

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6 Ways to Celebrate the International Day of Peace

Posted by on September 16, 2015 · 1 Comment  

September 21 was officially named International Day of Peace by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982, to devote this day to “strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.” With the 2015 holiday fast approaching, we’re looking forward to seeing peace being honored and celebrated around the world.

Here at Discover Corps, we do our best to promote peace all around the world by bringing together different cultures through our myriad volunteer vacation opportunities. By traveling to developing countries and providing some of the many resources and services they need (while also creating an opportunity for volunteers to meet, work with and interact with locals), we try to do our part to encourage a more peaceful and understanding world.

We believe that peace should be honored and strived for every single day of the year. But the International Day of Peace gives us all a special reminder for people to gather around the globe and work together to promote peace between us all. 

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate International Day of Peace, we think volunteering is a great way to do so. Check for local volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood, and join hands with your friends and neighbors in doing good for your community. But there are also lots of other ways to give back in honor of the International Day of Peace. Here are six additional options you may wish to explore:

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Sep
13

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5 Ways Voluntourism Can Help Save the World

Posted by on September 13, 2015 · Leave a Comment  

The state of the world can be mighty frustrating these days. Our nightly news and social media channels are constantly inundated with so many negative news stories, tragedies and struggles. Sometimes, things can start to feel a little hopeless.

But the surging popularity of voluntourism suggests that people in general have an innate desire to make things better. Many people are actively looking for ways they can help, and contribute to a cause bigger than themselves. We at Discover Corps see volunteers all over the world dedicating their time, energy and hard-earned money in an effort to create serious change in the communities they strive to serve.

We can’t prevent all of the tragedy that we see on TV. But we can each do our part to make things better, and collectively we can make a difference. Here are 5 ways that voluntourism can help make the world a better place…

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Sep
9

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How Multigenerational Travel Helps Families Connect

Posted by on September 9, 2015 · 2 Comments  

Grandparents Day is just around the corner (September 13), and a growing body of evidence confirms the rising incidence and influence of multigenerational travel.

My thoughts turn to August 2013, when I joined my parents, two siblings, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, wife and two young children on a group journey to northern Israel.

multigenerational travel to Israel

Traveling With Different Needs (and Speeds)

Like most multigenerational travel endeavors, the reasons for our trip were as diverse as the people present. For my mother, the project’s real engine, the goal was to share a gift-from-beyond-the-grave inheritance. She wanted to behold with her own eyes and set her feet on land her father had secretly purchased, sight unseen, decades before. The title had finally been placed in my mother’s name after considerable effort hacking through bureaucracy.

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Sep
6

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7 Simple Tips for More Sustainable Travel

Posted by on September 6, 2015 · 1 Comment  

Responsible travel is wonderful thing, introducing us to new people and places, brings cultures together and helps us appreciate the immense beauty of the world. On the flip side, irresponsible travel can have a negative impact on that world we’re trying to see. If we’re not aware of how we travel, we can wind up doing more harm than good.

The flights we take, the tour operators we travel with, the places we shop and the waste we create along the way all have an impact on the environment. Some negative impacts (such as the carbon emissions created by planes and cars) are unavoidable. But there are ways in which we can help to balance the scales. Practicing more sustainable travel allows us to enjoy all of the great things about seeing the world, while minimizing our footprint along the way.

As proponents of responsible voluntourism, we at Discover Corps believe that giving back to the communities we visit is crucial to sustainable travel. We try to consider every aspect of our impact on the places where we run volunteer vacations. But whether you’re volunteering abroad or just going on a relaxing vacation, there are many ways you can make your travels more sustainable. Here are seven simple tips to minimize your impact:

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Sep
2

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The Positives & Negatives of Volunteerism

Posted by on September 2, 2015 · Leave a Comment  

The concept of short term volunteerism has, at times, been the subject of criticism. Skeptics question whether the services offered by volunteers who visit only briefly can really have a lasting positive impact on the destination in question. Some even argue that it could have a negative effect.

If you’re researching volunteer vacation experiences, these arguments might make you skeptical. Here at Discover Corps, we see the value in that skepticism, because being skeptical forces us to pay more attention to details and make more thoughtful, responsible choices.

But we also see the immeasurable benefits of volunteerism, both to developing communities and to the volunteers who spend time working in them. We see friendships, education and progress on projects that might not have been possible otherwise. We see cultural exchanges and experiences that benefit everyone involved.

The 53rd week is a non-profit organization that supports short-term volunteerism. They aim to optimize the practice through research and innovation, with a focus on the host countries. In a recent article on the 53rd Week blog, “A World Without Short-term Volunteers Abroad Would be That Much Poorer,” they do a nice job of acknowledging the criticisms while also offering compelling support for this practice.

It’s valuable to explore these criticisms, but we at Discover Corps obviously believe that a world without short-term voluntourism would be missing out on a lot of potential good.

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Aug
26

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PROFILE: Miguel Revatta on Volunteer Vacations in Peru

Posted by on August 26, 2015 · Leave a Comment  

Today we’d like to take some time to introduce you to yet another one of our wonderful Discover Corps team members. Miguel Revatta is the program director for our Volunteer Vacations in Peru.

A native of Peru, Miguel is extremely passionate about sharing the values and customs of his country with the volunteer travelers that he works with. He can’t wait to introduce even more people to the food, the people, and the culture of his native homeland, which is surrounded by the stunning mountainous landscape of the Andes.

Will you be next? Let’s learn a little more about our passionate project manager and his beautiful homeland.

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