See posts from our upcoming trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand at:
Well, things are really heating up, and the days are counting down all too quickly. No, I’m not talking about Christmas or New years – but leaving on my BIG trip. I am gearing up to take our first trip to collect video for The Global Kitchen, and I’m really feeling the stress! My ‘to do’ list is at 2 pages now, (with three pages crossed off!), but some things just aren’t falling into place the way I had hoped. We haven’t heard from even one NGO that I’ve written in the hopes of partnering with them. This will make the trip even more difficult than it already was. If I have to try and locate NGOs on the ground, my already tight schedule will be impossible to keep.
I still have some pretty big things on my list as well. Our website isn’t live yet, our papers to the IRS are almost complete, (but still hinge on having a board meeting to approve our bylaws), I’m frantically doing another round of research on NGOs that work with women in the areas I’m going, trying to figure out all the new electronic technology I’m taking and how/if they work together, and on and on. That of course is on top of all the regular logistics around leaving the country for 2 months – shots and prescriptions, research, setting up bills to be paid, putting things on hold, shopping for items I need to take (just how many memory cards do I need anyway?) arranging flights, and oh yes, then there’s Christmas and my son’s 16th birthday. . . whew. Do you feel my exhaustion and anxiety?
Okay, I’ll take a deep breath. . . I’m trying to stay optimistic and believe the universe will provide, if I let it. (Which I know is true, but to be honest, I’m struggling with this at the moment.) I am actually looking forward to getting on the plane (which is crazy since it’s the start of a 20 hour trip) because it will mean that whatever got done, got done, and the rest – well, let’s hope it wasn’t critical. From that point on I can focus on the moment and try to find the inner balance I need for this adventure. Stay tuned.
Well, the season of giving is upon us and since we are buying gifts anyway, why not make a difference at the same time? There are so many ways, I can’t possibly list them all here, but hopefully some of these will inspire you.
If you’re going to shop online, why not choose a charity to receive a percentage of whatever you buy? It doesn’t cost you anything, and you can use GOOD SEARCH to access hundreds of your favorite online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Apple, & Target to name a few. In fact, The Global Kitchen can benefit if you choose us as your designated charity!
Or, if you prefer to give more unique items, shop for gifts at FAIR TRADE retailers that provide equitable trade partnerships with artists around the world. You can shop at local fair trade import stores, as well as online. The Fair Trade Federation website allows you to search by store location, online retailers, product or country of origin.
For that person that has everything, why not CONTRIBUTE TO A CAUSE they are passionate about? There are great causes for every interest, and think of how good it will feel to give a gift that truly makes a difference. Donations can be quite small ($10 and up) and on many of the sites below you can chose a specific item to provide. Buy a bed net to prevent malaria, chickens to provide a family with eggs to sell at market, immunizations for a child, a clean drinking water kit or a fuel efficient stove – the need is great, and there are a lot of options.
On MICRO-FINANCE websites like Kiva you can contribute a small amount to help a person start a business that will help them out of the cycle of poverty. The personal connection makes an especially compelling story as a gift. Some of the sites like Mercy Corps also have a gift card that you can add a comment, print it out, or have it mailed, or email it. You can even choose the date to have it sent, so you can get your shopping done early!
So, this season when you buy your gifts, think about giving back at the same time. These are only a few ideas, but if you have favorite project, please add a comment and share your way to pay it forward this holiday season.
http://www.nothingbutnets.net ($10 buys a bed net to prevent malaria)
http://www.heifer.org (buy an animal that helps support a family)
http://www.sierraclub.org ($25 supports the arctic & get a polar bear puppet too)
http://www.womenforwomen.org/ (helps survivors of war in the Congo)
http://www.habitat.org ($10 buys a hammer to help build homes for the homeless)
http://www.roomtoread.org/ (provide books for children around the world)
Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, reflect on what we have to be thankful for, and to remember those who are less fortunate. This year many of us are struggling financially, and although it’s easy to focus on our problems, we should remember we also have a lot to be thankful for.
So, this Thanksgiving give thanks that:
– you are not one of the 50% of the people around the world living on less than $2 a day.
– you can turn on a tap and get clean water.
– your child is not at risk of being one that dies every 6 seconds from hunger related causes.
– you, your daughter, sister or mother are not one of the four million women and girls that are trafficked annually into forced marriage, prostitution, or slavery.
– you have enough food to be healthy, when 1 in 6 people in world do not.
As you sit down to eat your dinner, look around the table at your family, friends, home, and the bounty of food, and reflect on how much you truly have to be thankful for . . .
Okay, okay . . . many of you have asked about my upcoming trip, so here is the current plan. As the next step in the launch of The Global Kitchen I am going to SE Asia to create my first videos for the website. I will be visiting Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand in January and February. It’s the ‘dry/cool’ season there (meaning the temperature is only in the 90s and humidity is about the same – ugh). I may be escaping the rain here, but it will be positively steamy there.
Although I have traveled a lot in Southeast Asia, I have never been to Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos, so I’m really excited to explore these countries. Of course I love Thailand (and the food!) so I wanted to include it as well. Although 2 months sounds like a long time, it will be a tight schedule to cover all of these areas, and accomplish all I need to. I plan on blogging and posting photos on my trip so you can see what I’m up to, follow along, and write to me.
So far my itinerary looks like this:
January: I will start in northern Vietnam (Hanoi and Halong Bay) and then go to Hoi An in the central area, and the Saigon/Mekong Delta area in the south.
February: I will be in the Siem Reap area of Cambodia. After that I will go to Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai area – not on map) and Luang Prabang in Laos.
Right now I am in the process of researching non-profits that operate in these areas to partner with. I am also learning about the cuisines, ingredients and specialties of these regions and what makes them unique.
How YOU can help
If you know any contacts in these countries – individuals or non-profits, it would be great if you would pass them on. One of the most interesting things about traveling is meeting people who live there. And it’s even better if there is a connection from someone I know.
Or if you have suggestions of where to go or what to do, or what you would like to see, that would be great, too. Do you have a favorite dish you would like to see prepared? Or a specific women’s issue you would like me to research and support? It’s my hope that you (The Global Kitchen community) will speak up and be part of this trip.
In an upcoming blog I’ll write about the cuisines of the areas and what makes them distinct. And, if you have any restaurant suggestions in the Portland area that you think have authentic food from these areas, I am always up for a field trip. :)
I had the opportunity many years ago to live in Tokyo. What started out as a one-year experience ended up turning in to seven. It was the only other time in my life that I had been laid off (during the previous recession for those who remember), and I took advantage of that ‘fork in the road’ to do something I had always dreamt about – living and traveling overseas.
Although living in the Japanese culture was challenging at times, I loved the sense of adventure and discovery around every corner. I never knew what I would see or experience, or whom I would meet – a Shinto priest worshiping at an ancient wooden shrine sandwiched between 2 high-rises, a festival procession of samurai down glitzy Ginza, or a glimpse into traditional family life behind the modern façade of Tokyo. It served to whet my appetite to see more and more of our remarkable world and meet the people that live in it.
Traveling became my passion, and I would work just long enough to save the money to travel. I would usually take off for 3 months or so, and then I would come back to Tokyo and start working (and saving) again. My trips took me all over Asia, and each trip fed my appetite for travel temporarily, but as soon as I got back I was thinking about my next destination. My last trip ended up being a year-long solo adventure that took me around the world. Consequently, out of the seven years that Tokyo was my home base, I was traveling for almost half of it. My appetite for travel has never diminished, and although having a family and business has slowed down my adventures, I still hit the road less traveled whenever I can. I’m always thinking about and planning for my next trip . . . (more about that later!)
I’ve always tried to be a ‘half full’ kind of person – looking at the positive side of negative circumstances. Of course there have been times in my life when this seemed almost impossible, but eventually I could view that half empty glass as half-full. Getting laid-off from a career that I had dreamt of all my life, (and went back to school for 4 years!) was tough, as were other personal crises in my life (that I won’t bore you with). Last week my glass again appeared half empty for a few days, but it is back up to half full now, I’m happy to report.
I have learned that taking action is key. (I know some people will say it’s all about attitude, but for me, that is harder to change.) So, I formulate a plan, and move ahead. By taking control of the situation and actively working on it, I find my attitude naturally changes for the better. Another lesson I have learned from my (short-lived) recent career is that often obstacles provide better solutions. Limitations cause you look at things in a different way, and come up with alternatives that you might not have thought about originally.
So, the wall I hit last week with my non-profit plan and the IRS regulations actually produced a solution that will address some issues I hadn’t originally resolved and will make things easier! With that kind of result, I would say my glass looks almost full, at least for now. ~wendy