Traveling? For Best Results, Immerse Yourself Before You Get There
August 20, 2014
Whether you’re about to embark on your first safari or you’re simply heading to a neighborhood you’ve never visited, you have a couple of choices of how you can enhance the experience: 1. You can grab the nearest travel guide and do what it says, or 2. You can immerse yourself in the flavors of your destination–along the way, getting to know the people, the organizations, and the culture more intimately before you even set foot there.
In many ways, this way of traveling mimics what I do as a public relations pro. This “PR mindset” greatly enhance the experience both in the moment and beyond. And the best part is that even after the exploration is done, there are new relationships that can blossom into all kinds of unknown and exciting possibilities.
I’m Over the Moon About … Africa. Because next month, I’m heading to Africa on Safari for my very first time. I’ve been absorbing as much as I can right here in the USA. I even wrote about my early Africa-prep work in this piece: Five Ways to Research Using the WWW: Whole Wide World.
Following is the first in a series of posts about my research and travel that I hope you find interesting.
Organizations Helping Africa
WildlifeDirect is dedicated to “changing minds, behavior and laws to ensure Africa’s critical species endure forever.” Hands Off Our Elephants is their flagship campaign that has successfully mobilized the public in Kenya and drives legal reforms to protect elephants. I met WildlifeDirect Chairman, John Heminway in the past, a dynamic voice for endangered animals.
“Regardless of a high awareness that ivory comes from dead elephants, 84% of ivory purchasers still intend to buy more in the future…poaching will continue. By destroying the prestige of ivory, we can destroy the demand.”
Take note of some of these other organizations helping both families and wildlife in Africa:
- My friend, philanthropist, and tea specialist, Lisa Feistel started an amazing organization that is really making noise in the animal protection space. Her Triangle Tea Life or the “Tea that Changes Lives”, donates a portion of the purchase price to help the elephants from becoming an endangered species around the world.
- Dr. Laurie Marker is the remarkable woman I’ve heard speak. She created the Cheetah Conservation Fund to address the threats made to the cheetah and to its entire ecosystem, including human populations. One day, I hope to be in Namibia to experience this first hand. You can learn more about the problems the cheetah faces in the wild and the work CCF is doing to ensure the their survival for generations to come. P.S. There are chapters around the country.
- House of Loveness in Zimbabwe is Betsy Blankenbaker’s non-profit that supports the needs of underserved, abandoned, or orphaned children of Zimbabwe. I’m so impressed with Betsy and her ability to make a difference around the world. She offers retreats that include game drives and important service at local schools.
Movies About Africa That I Watched … Again
Battle For The Elephants is a National Geographic Special with an undercover look at the ivory trade and the sad future for elephants who are being poached in huge numbers. It is directed by John Heminway and produced by Katie Carpenter. Also see CNN story about this documentary.
And, more of my favorites that I can watch over and over again:
- Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in Out of Africa: What a duo, what a love story, and set in Nairobi.
- Katharine Hepburn in African Queen: Love this movie filmed partly in Africa, partly on a set. Or you can read a book by Hepburn, The Making of the African Queen: Or How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.
- Kim Basinger in I Dreamed of Africa: Story of Kuki Gallmann and her family in Kenya. I worked on a project many years ago and had the opportunity to do some press around daughter Sveva Gallmann’s initiatives. One of the articles is below. I’d love to visit the Gallmann Africa Conservancy one day.
Books I’m reading now
- Ernest Hemingway “Green Hills of Africa“. What a classic!
- Dr. Laurie Marker “A Future for Cheetahs“. See organizations above.
- Michael “Nick” Nichols “Earth to Sky“. See an earlier post about this NatGeo photographer and his photo exhibit here.
- Josh Ruxin “A Thousand Hills to Heaven“. Josh moved his family from NYC to Rwanda. I attended his book signing.
Most images are taken with the iPhone 5s. Some are taken with the Canon EOS 5D MarkIII.
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