Category: Volunteer Vacations

Feb
19

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Ethical Elephant Tourism: An Interview with Thai Mahouts

Posted by on February 19, 2020 · Leave a Comment  

When it comes to the ethical treatment of animals, there are many different layers to consider and therefore many different beliefs that exist. Discover Corps went into the field to learn about the complex question of elephant tourism from those who have been working with the elephants for generations – the mahouts in Thailand. 

In short, we do not support elephant riding in any way, shape, or form. However, we believe that the problem is not so black and white, and in fact, focusing only on elephant riding is doing a disservice to the animals, the travelers seeking to understand them, and the conservationists working to protect them. 

“Now, the biggest problem we face is that in the past, there was plenty of space for the elephants to graze and feed. Now there is a lot less space, and local laws do not allow them to graze on public land [..] so it can be difficult to find them enough food.” – Boon, Head Mahout at the Elephant Nursery 

We believe that travelers need to vote with their dollars by going to truly ethical camps, the mahout tradition needs to be celebrated, governments, companies, and citizens need to prioritize proper care to establish standards, and we must work to restore lost habitat. 

Watch the video below and get to know the mahouts from our Thailand: The Baby Elephant Experience, and write any questions in the comments!

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Jul
12

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10 Amazing Gorilla Facts

Posted by on July 12, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

For two hours now you have been trekking through the dense jungle of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, hyper-aware of every detail of your surroundings. The heat and bugs, however, have zero impact on your level of concentration. You are on a mission. Just as you start to feel a hint of fatigue, the moment arrives. Your guide spots a family of gorillas resting just 20 feet away! The alpha of the group turns and your eyes meet. It’s both terrifying and familiar.

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Jun
10

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Peru: Children of the Andes | Adrienne’s Interview

Posted by on June 10, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

Discover Corps’ Travel Operations Assistant, Adrienne, has the important role of preparing travelers for both the pre-departure process AND in-country adventures upon their arrival. So needless to say, she really knows our trips inside and out. To stay on top of her game though, Adrienne puts in the work! This includes going on-location to walk in the footsteps of Discover Corps’ travelers. Most recently, she visited our Peru: Children of the Andes vacation, and sat down to discuss the unique experience in the video below:

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May
29

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Ask the Alumni: Peru through the Eyes of a Discover Corps’ Traveler

Posted by on May 29, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

Sometimes in travel, as in life, it is better to know what you don’t want from your experience than what you do desire. This was certainly the case for Kai, on her recent Peru: Children of the Andes trip. A seasoned traveler, Kai had chosen to travel by herself in the past but learned it was not for her.

“Previously, I have had the experience of being a solo traveler… planning the trip alone, traveling by myself the entire trip. I learned that I don’t like that! I need someone else to arrange details, introduce me to the culture and local people and customs and places, and other travelers to share experiences with.”

This awareness made her Peru volunteer vacation with Discover Crops a perfect match, as Kai details below:

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May
22

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Is Purposeful Travel a Cure for Loneliness?

Posted by on May 22, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a Great Time to Reflect on Travel’s Role in the Space.

Can you remember the last time you were lonely? When the thought of reaching out to others for a social outing left you feeling anything but…social.

Interestingly, our bodies provide key indicators into how being lonely affects us. Research has found those excluded from social interactions have a noticeable drop in skin temperature. This is likely a protective mechanism, but it brings an entirely new meaning to the expression, giving the cold shoulder.

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May
17

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Interview from Peru: Discover Corps’ Guide Miguel

Posted by on May 17, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

The name of our Peru trip, Children of the Andes, gives a great indication of what you can expect on your vacation with purpose to this special part of South America. You will spend quality time teaching, learning from, and connecting with children that each have a unique story to share. This time is precious and much needed for all involved, but it’s hardly the only aspect of this dynamic experience. Discover Corps’ guide for Peru, Miguel, agrees:

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May
3

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Ask the Alumni: Tanzania through the Eyes of a Discover Corps Family [Q&A and VIDEO]

Posted by on May 3, 2019 · 2 Comments  

Tanzania is a game changer, or more aptly put, a perspective changer. Cosette and Brian DeCesare and their three daughters Genevieve, Theresa, and Maria are evidence of this phenomenon after their recent Tanzania Safari & Service family vacation with Discover Corps. Cosette put it best, “I was in awe of the happiness and disposition of the people. Especially the children. This was not so much a surprise but an observation. These people know struggle. But they have a level of apparent joy and contentment that would make a lot of Americans blush with envy.”

To elaborate on their family’s time in Africa, Cosette and 16-year-old Theresa kindly agreed to share a few thoughts below on what they called an experience of a lifetime. Their words are complemented by a video recap (after the Q&A) of the trip, creatively made by Theresa.

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