“I think first and foremost, people only protect the things they love. And you can’t love something unless you inherently identify with it.”
Kris Tompkins, wife of American environmentalist and original co-founder of The North Face Doug Tompkins, was referring to the two million acres of land in Chile they’re preserving called Conservacion Patagonica.
I love what the Tompkins’ are doing and I’m on a mission to protect something, too – culture.
You might’ve read this in my About section, but my Mom is from Colombia and my Dad’s from India. For having parents from opposite sides of the world with their own unique traditions and history, I feel as if I’ve taken full advantage of my ethnicity. As a child, I saw my sister’s authentic “Quinceañera” (Latin celebration when a girl turns fifteen) in Bogotá, Colombia. Or I’d observe my Dadimaa (Urdu for father’s mother) lovingly fulfill her prayers fives times a day.
Even as an adult, I’ve embraced customs specific to each side. I’ve asked my niece and nephew to call me “Tia Sarah” and get to practice my Spanish every so often with family, like my 101-year-old Abuelita (Spanish for “little” grandmother). And while there are a lot of not-so-great emotions towards the Middle East, I’ve felt the love and it’s warm and welcoming. They also have some of the most beautiful, colorful, dance-filled weddings I have ever been to. The food is incredible and I absolutely love dressing up and practicing rituals like wearing mehndi, or henna.
Any time I return home, especially from international trips, there’s this distinct appreciation for life and everything in it, good or bad. I am blessed to have parents who worked as hard as they did to become their own American dream. It would be a lie if I said growing up around the two different cultures was easy. My siblings and I still actively remind ourselves that our parents grew up in different eras and in different places. But that’s the thing about culture that I love and want to share… it teaches you universal respect and understanding. Am I perfect at it? No. But it’s something I try to work towards every day.
Two-year-old travel site, Jauntaroo, recently launched a job offer for a Chief World Explorer (CWE). If you remember a few years back, Tourism Queensland did something similar looking for an island caretaker in the Great Barrier Reef. Jauntaroo’s CWE will be responsible for making posts to the site and video webisodes about each place for a year and get paid $100,000 to do it.
The money is nice and the travel part is obviously huge, but what immediately clicked for me is their partnership with LiveDifferent Hero Holiday which creates programs to involve youths with humanitarian relief programs to include a voluntourism twist.
I’ve been volunteering coast-to-coast over the last three years. My first summer in Los Angeles, I was an activities volunteer at the Venice Beach Boys & Girls club. I’d monitor and play with children in the main building for an hour and then head out to Marina Del Rey where we all learned how to sail catamaran’s and kayak.
During the summer of 2010, I was one of two hundred fifty students selected nationwide to participate in the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ very competitive Multicultural Advertising Intern Program. Part of their curriculum was to participate in a volunteer session or we had the option to do something on our own. I opted for the latter and worked with the Hudson Guild, a community center in West Chelsea right by my office, McgarryBowen. I inspired children to create commercials of their own by recycling magazines and studio materials to put together storyboards. It happened over two days in three weeks. When their storyboards were complete and bound together, we got to hear their ideas and future blockbusters before they took them home.
When I moved back out west in 2011, I got involved with Global Inheritance as a Tour Rider at a music venue called the Hollywood Bowl. There are tons of seats with hardly any parking space to match and it was up to us to encourage and reward people to take public transportation or carpool. That opportunity turned into an all expense-paid trip to San Francisco to motivate Treasure Island Music Festival attendees to recycle their trash. We made sure to check out California’s “Pacific Coast Highway” on the way there. That whole weekend will always be one of my favorite, most cherished memories.
And then there’s Falling Whistles. An internationally recognized campaign for peace in Congo that I’ve been selected to create and lead in Orlando, Florida. Our kick-off event was better than I could’ve ever imagined! We had over seventy people arrive to “take their Portrait for Peace”, raised just over $1,300, and started a conversation about peace in Congo.
Helping people feel good makes me feel good. It’s like smiling – it’s contagious.
So set some alarms, leave yourself a sticky note, or maybe even a reminder on your bathroom mirror because where I need your help are votes. This isn’t just to become Jauntaroo’s Chief World Explorer, but Chief World Giver. You can like it one time every twenty-four hours on multiple devices – like your phone, tablet, or computer. They’ll narrow it down to the top fifty before they announce the winner in November. They also don’t bother you for e-mail addresses or any information. Simply hit “like”!
This is my absolute dream. I started this blog with the hopes of making it into something that’ll help me combine my love for travel and cultures and still be able to feed my two dogs and I. Because let’s be serious, I’ve moved around way too often in the last three years to waste my money on clothes or things. It’s gone towards plane tickets and gas money instead, leaving me with memories that will last me a lifetime.
Worst case, I have you and Choose Love & Go, which if you ask me – is a win/win either way!
Here’s where to vote. Hit the “like” button once every twenty-four hours. I need to set something up so I can send people postcards when I win.
And take a look at my bloopers because if you can’t laugh at yourself – who will?
Thank you SO MUCH for all the support. Especially my brother, Mo, for helping me record my video entry and to Mila, my dog, for being there for me, too. We missed her brother Marley, but he was definitely there in spirit.
Love is real. And I appreciate you.