Writing

Critical Voices on Voluntourism and the Classism of Literature

Critical Voices on Voluntourism and the Classism of Literature

I’m chipping away at my manuscript one daunting page at a time, but I’ve also been doing some continued hefty research on the topics it addresses. I’m interested in sharing what I’ve found this week in order to spark your thinking. I encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments so that everyone can benefit from your point of view.

NOTE: If you’ve never considered that voluntourism can have negative effects, the following might be a hard pill to swallow. And if you’ve never considered service abroad to be problematic, I’m very glad you’ve decided to read this post. I wish I would have known about or considered these perspectives decades ago.

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I'm not just making sentences these days. I'm making sourdough.

I'm not just making sentences these days. I'm making sourdough.

Aside from the thrill that he remembered my silly convo starter from months back, I got another thrill. An idea. Perhaps I could bake bread! What was stopping me now from baking delicious bread, making my own sourdough starter, churning out some unique flavor combinations, and selling to friends? I had a home now. A working oven. I had time. And most importantly, I wasn’t worried about money just yet (that’ll come… thankfully I planned for this income drought).

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How hard did I bomb my 2018 New Year's Resolution?

How hard did I bomb my 2018 New Year's Resolution?

I like the idea of New Year’s resolutions in the same way I like the idea of year-round goal setting and constant self-improvement. That was something I enjoyed about my two- to five-month stints abroad for work. My TGS terms sectioned life into manageable time periods in which I could feasibly take on challenges, improve skills, change habits, or assess a shift in my thinking from start to finish. I was always reflecting on the pre- and post- trip “me.”

For the last few years, I’ve chosen reading challenges on New Year’s, and for the last few years, I’ve fallen short of every resolution. 13 out of 20. 29 out of 40. If I counted all the books I started, then both years would have been “missions accomplished,” but what’s the point in cutting corners with personal challenges? Though we humans seem collectively terrible at keeping NYE resolutions (just observe gym attendance alone throughout the year), I don’t believe they’re made to be broken.

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Take stock of your writing life with these eight questions

Take stock of your writing life with these eight questions

Using Roxanne Gay’s 2013 AWP article as inspiration, I answered these questions for myself as an exercise of reflection in this somewhat solitary practice of writing. If you’re a writer looking to take stock of your own progress and engagement with writing, I encourage you to try this for yourself! It required me to put into words what I had been struggling to communicate with my friends and family regarding the third draft of my WIP and my new stationary writing life.

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The White Savior Conversation continues...

The White Savior Conversation continues...

I recently came across an Instagram account called @nowhitesaviors, run by a collection of people from Uganda, Kenya, USA, and possibly more locales (some are anonymous). I spent the following two hours browsing their content and comments and going down the rabbit holes of articles they referenced, accounts they hope to educate for their wrongdoings, as well as accounts they support for their ethical storytelling and advocacy.

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"Are you published yet?" and other thoughts on success in the writing profession

"Are you published yet?" and other thoughts on success in the writing profession

I interpret these as supportive and encouraging questions—from people who have been cheering me on through the gestation of this book. But these questions also relate to the self-study of the publishing world that has consumed the “gap year” I just began, an industry and a process that surprises me regularly in its opacity and complexity.

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Why I'm leaving "the best job in the world" to be "unemployed"

Why I'm leaving "the best job in the world" to be "unemployed"

My choice to stop traveling with TGS comes with a big implication: I will no longer be nomadic. Perhaps you might call it "settling down." I've always hated this concept because of what it implied: that I'm accepting a less desirable fate, pausing the whirlwind of my twenties and letting the dust settle in my thirties, that I'm hanging up my backpack and passport for good. I don't think any of these are the case.

Cover image by Ina B.

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I think I'm doing "summer break" wrong... ah, who cares.

I think I'm doing "summer break" wrong... ah, who cares.

So I read, adrenal fatigue appears to be a 21st century issue, in that the diminishment of real physical danger in our daily lives has manifested itself into a constant stress that treats all threats as equals. If this is the case, take me back to the days of subsistence farming, jumps in the swimming hole, and dinner by candlelight. I guess I want to be Amish! Or better yet, Fijian!

But obviously I've gained a tremendous amount from this active, dynamic life bouncing around the world. I'm trying to take it easy, give myself a break before Botswana amps up, but as my previous list indicates, I treat "breaks" like stolen time. I will fill the time I have, a compulsive little worker pumped with caffeine to complement a puny trickle of cortisol.

Parkinson's Law, they call it. Well, C.N. Parkinson has officially taken over my wet, hot, American summer break. And even if that means more of this compulsive, fight or flight mode, as long as I have a finished book by next February, I'm fine with that.

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A refreshing update on Nomadderwhere for 2016

A refreshing update on Nomadderwhere for 2016

I keep erasing the opening sentence of this blog because I don't know who I'm addressing. You, my audience, are unknown to me, but I know I have something to tell you. I know it's time to update you on what has changed since I last applied the necessary time and effort on Nomadderwhere this summer, and now is as good a time as any, here in the Air France lounge at Washington Dulles airport. I have three more hours until my plane departs for Vermont.

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To all those hopeful travel writers out there

To all those hopeful travel writers out there

To my knowledge, there is no perfect equation that all can use in order to strike that balance between experience and processing time. Homework, books, projects, trips, community building, sports, and other desires or pressures will tug at one’s attention and make it difficult to prioritize processing time for maximum personal benefit.

Over my years on the road, I have witnessed in people who prioritize - even slightly - the documentation of their experiences:

  • more emotional stability
  • more ease with forming concluding thoughts about a place or experience
  • more clarity in drive or future path

It will take time to experiment with travel writing techniques in order to access inner thoughts, make the most meaning out of your world experiences, and utilize time most wisely for maximum gain. That time, however, will be fun and rewarding.

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Consume & Update: Museum Roommate and Deep Thoughts

This week's outreach into the world of travel may pack a wallop for some of you eager to do something amazing.

$10,000 to be a Museum Live-in

Live in the Museum of Science and Industry for one month, learn something, write about it, and receive $10,000 for your efforts. This is not a shabby gig.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has launched a competition for tech-savvy, learn-happy extroverts that seems like the perfect position for a world traveler. We're interested in the world around us, in need of money, and often well-versed in online media and marketing (a.k.a the travel blogging type).

Month at the Museum

Month at the Museum

This seems to be yet another marketing campaign that doubles as a fantastic pooling of like-minded, lifelong learners. To live in the museum of science and have your mind revolve around discovery for four whole weeks would be a treat for anyone curious about their surroundings on this planet. Of course, the lucky individual isn't allowed to work elsewhere during that time period, nor are they given total freedom to their normal social lives, but this is an experiment in itself, an opportunity to be one with the universe and grow an ever deeper appreciation for how all things work.

There are a lot of wanderlusters out there looking for ways to do what they love and still sustain themselves. Not every opportunity out there is a "Best Job in the World" or a "World Traveler Internship," but there are plenty of other ways to learn about the world and craft your voice of expression, this definitely being one of them. Therefore, I'm here to pass this great opportunity along to you, the Pavlovian salivators to all things exploration.

Make a video application (and you know how to do that), write a lil' essay, complete an application form, throw on a photo, sign a waiver, bing, bang, boom, you're in the running. Let me know if you go for this!

Other Discoveries

Chris' Guide to Travel Hacking

Take the Seven Link Challenge: I know I will soon!

Bourdain is awarding an unpublished writer $10,000 and a spot in his newest book's paperback edition.

This Brave New Traveler piece touches on a topic I've been thinking about these past few weeks: home mind and travel mind.

The 2010 State of the Travel Blogosphere

Update on Nomadderwhere

Isolation

Isolation

This week has revolved around deep thoughts, cinematographic research, trying to NOT cut my fingers off with freshly sharpened knives, and, of course, work for ProjectExplorer.org. Here's what I've created in the last two weeks (since the last Consume & Update).

Stunning news from the world of Nomadderwhere: I'm going full steam ahead on my redesign for Nomadderwhere, to be scheduled for September 23, 2010. I would love to hear your feedback in any way, shape, or form. Video feedback is always best, but you can also contact me with a simple message or leave a comment below!

Where are we in this story?

On the carrier floor

On the carrier floor

Since I embarked on December 1st to develop The Nakavika Project, I've been quite inconsistent with my written postings, even though they've all published as frequently as expected. For those of you waiting to hear so much that we've left uncovered, I've got some 'splaining to do. Starting off with action inspired by Chris Guillebeau's ebook, I moved on to recount the experiences of our first steps in Fiji. Getting up to Nakavika was a full day adventure that ended poetically, while the next days involved village logistics and the acceptance of our mission.

Once we were established in the Highlands, we started getting comfortable, going swimming daily with the kids, watching shocking swine slaughterings, assimilating with our demographic, and becoming members of our host family and community. Within one week of traveling to the interior, Garrett and I journeyed back down to Suva for an internet run and returned one day later to a cyclone experience neither of us will ever let mentally slip away.

But I let my writings slip from that moment on.

Watching Mick

Watching Mick

I lost track of writing as the cyclone threatened our water source and made showering, drinking water, cooking food, washing clothes and even swimming more difficult and time-consuming. The road washed away at Namando, making it difficult for the diesel to reach Nakavika and power the generator that juiced my laptop's empty battery. Our housing situation became sticky and riddled with unknowns and inconveniences. We planned our escape to recuperate from multiple bacterial infections.

And I let my excuses eat away at my writing muse.

Instead of catching up with an explanation of our trip to Suva and Cyclone Mick, I jumped around to speaking Fijian and matters of global citizenship. I discussed the scattered happenings of our project classes with not only the kids but the youth and adults as well.

So what's the plan?

Chronology be damned, I'm going to tell you the whole scoop eventually, excluding the dirty details, which are for us to know and you to ponder about endlessly. Starting this Friday, I'll fill you in on the occurrences of my mini-vacation in Fiji prior to flying home on Valentine's Day - then I'll tap into the stories of my inland adventure.

Wayalailai

Wayalailai

After officially leaving the village on the 1st of February and parting ways with homeward bound Garrett and Jackie, I spent some time in a coastal village outside Suva, chatted with Madventurer contact Kimbo, and took a steady, pleasant ride through the Mamanucas to the Yasawa islands. Here at Wayalailai Ecohaven, I am turning my brain off to recover from two months in a different world.

After detailing these lovely happenings, I'll return to the stories of yore…Cyclone Mick, Christmas in the village, our holiday time off and so on. By the end of these tales, you'll know more about Fijian culture and mindsets than you ever wanted to.

And finally, the status of The Nakavika Project - TNP is going underground for a few weeks to undergo some serious plastic surgery. The seemingly obvious flow of progress changed and professed a need for reevaluation. Garrett and I will be working on TNP for the next month or so, crafting it into the most successful project it has the ability of being. As could have been anticipated, our expectations were somewhat off from the project's predestination.

So prepare yourself for many more weeks of tales, starting with the most recent and then whipping back in time like Tarantino. Weekly videos will continue chronologically, somewhat, with the same level of hilarity and other-worldliness.

Please continue to comment as these are the sharpeners to my writing and blogging blade.