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The VolunTourist™ is a premium Newsletter for the Travel Trade. For those interested in discovering what is happening in the world of VolunTourism™ and seeking emerging practices, general information, and case studies, this is your Source.

Volume 4 Issue 2 Highlights

 
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FEATURE ARTICLE 2

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Myanmar & Southeast Asian VolunTourism

In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, we have seen many folks, particularly from the travel industry, stepping forward to support the people of Myanmar. Though it may still be premature for VolunTourism trips to the region, Global Com-munity Service Foundation, established by Marcia Selva back in 1994, is poised to serve as a conduit for those who are trying to determine if a VolunTourism trip to Burma may be part of their future.

Thoughts on Burma, From Marcia Selva

I think one of the most inspiring stories I heard from Burma has been the support of the tourism community following the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis. The efforts of that country’s tourism workers have been nothing short of amazing. GCSF in-country representatives and other travel guides are working together to provide food, water, medicines and shelter materials on a wider scale than our in-country network could otherwise manage. The tour guides are using their channels of communication with the outside world and within Burma to coordinate the collection of resources from international donors and the distribution of relief supplies in the affected areas.

I think there will be plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks and months for voluntourists to assist the people of Burma. Two GCSF Board members recently returned from Burma and reported that the loss of life and devastation is absolutely overwhelming: more than 100,000 dead, millions homeless.

Earlier this year, GCSF had raised money for a planned renovation of the Joshua Orphanage in Dala, located outside of Rangoon. The orphanage is home to more than 30 orphans and a host family of four. Cyclone Nargis destroyed the orphanage; thankfully none of the residents was severely injured. Global Community Service Foundation now is raising additional monies to rebuild and expand the orphanage (with storm-resistant brick structures) and to help people in the surrounding areas.

A Brief History & Background On Global Spectrum & GCSF:

Global Spectrum is a Washington, D.C. area-based travel company specializing in Southeast Asia tourism. It holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-based travel company to operate in postwar Viet Nam. Its clients are individuals and organizations that are seeking customized trips.

Global Spectrum's philanthropic arm—Global Community Service Foundation (GCSF) —was founded in 1994 by Marcia Selva. GCSF was established to provide unique opportunities for international tourists to contribute—physically, mentally and financially—to the welfare of the Southeast Asian communities they visit. The foundation’s mission is to reduce poverty in Southeast Asia through the development and implementation of sustainable community-based projects.

GCSF focuses its efforts in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Viet Nam through its “Adopt-a-Village” program encompassing community-based projects focused on providing for basic human needs, such as provision of clean water, housing and clothing; delivery of healthcare, education and vocational training; and developing micro-enterprise initiatives.

Today, GCSF is a significant community-service provider in Southeast Asia and is spearheading the construction, renovation and support of schools, libraries, clinics and orphanages in addition to developing multi-faceted, income-generation projects that helps residents of its “adopted” villages to become self-supporting.

Additionally, Global Spectrum and GCSF work seamlessly to create “Global VolunTourism” programs that enable international tourists to volunteer their time and share their life-skills to enrich their travel experience and expand the knowledge of their host countries, its people and themselves.

The Philosophy Of GCSF:

WEEKLY WEBCAST

Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT

Our philosophy is very simple: Global Spectrum and Global Community Service Foundation provide one-of-a-kind opportunities to not only visit a country and explore its history, culture and people but also to give back to that country in very special ways.

Our Global VolunTourism programs are an exciting way for world travelers to experience international destinations while volunteering their time and knowledge for projects that directly benefit the local community, its people and even the traveler.

We want our travelers to see poverty firsthand, but we also want them to do more than donate money. Our theme is about hands-on participation: helping to build an orphanage, digging a well or teaching your life-skills. It is about people helping people, exchanging ideas, learning about other cultures and making new friends.

By combining vacation time with volunteer service, our voluntourists’ visits to Southeast Asia are a meaningful, rewarding and memorable experience—one during which they roll up their sleeves and expand their mind all at the same time. Our programs are uplifting as well as life-changing. It truly is travel with a purpose.

Unique GCSF Voluntary Service Projects:

We want our travelers to experience situations and participate in activities that truly are unique. Our trips and our volunteer activities are fully customizable.

You can travel to Lampang, Thailand to participate in an interactive session with elephants that are helping children with autism. You can spend a day painting a cultural community center in Quang Tri Province, Viet Nam. You can build a stilt house in Inle Lake, Burma. Or you can team up with a teacher at a local school in Bhutan. We want your community-service time to be tailored to your interests and your base of knowledge.

We have implemented a Global VolunTourism Program that will provide you the means to become a voluntourist in several Asian countries— Bhutan, Burma, Thailand and Viet Nam. In these countries you can exchange ideas with your host community and its people on a wide array of topics ranging from arts and science to construction and the hospitality industry. The only limit to your voluntourist activities is your own creativity.

Unique GCSF Tourism-Related Activities:

Our goal is to create a journey that is tailored to your interests. Everything we do is geared to creating a unique travel experience for you. We will take the outline you provide us and develop a truly distinct vacation that combines tourism and community service.

Our experience knows no boundaries. We have arranged hikes up the Ho Chi Minh Trail to meet up with ethnic minorities. We have scheduled tours of the Nike Factory outside of Ho Chi Minh City. We have arranged visits to the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Command in Viet Nam where Americans are working to account for those U.S. military personnel who remain missing from the Viet Nam War (the “American War” as it is called in Viet Nam).

In Thailand, we have arranged home-stays with the mahouts (elephant handlers) at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. We have set up dinners at Burma’s Inle Lake where travelers buy food and go to a local home to make and share a meal with the host family.

Additionally, We have arranged trips for many types of groups: business professionals, art teachers, military veterans and school children. We also have set up trips for families as well as individuals. We want our travelers to truly experience local communities.

GCSF Sample Itinerary:

GCSF Philosophy

Our philosophy is very simple: Global Spectrum and Global Community Service Foundation provide one-of-a-kind opportunities to not only visit a country and explore its history, culture and people but also to give back to that country in very special ways.

Sample Vietnam Group Itinerary

DAY 1 - DEPART WASHINGTON

DAY 2 - ENROUTE

DAY 3 - HO CHI MINH CITY

Arrive Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) at 10:35am. Meet your tour guide and transfer to the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing to see Cho Lon, HCMC’s Chinatown with interesting temples and pagodas. Here the streets are filled with amazing sights, sounds, and, most of all rich herbal smells. Overnight HCMC

Hotel: Bong Sen Hotel

DAY 4 - HCMC TO DA NANG

Morning sightseeing tour of central HCMC including Reunification Hall. If there is time, visit the War Crimes museum. Continue to the airport for the flight to Da Nang 4:00pm/5:10 pm - and continue to Hoi An. Evening walking tour of Hoi An. Overnight Hoi An; Hotel: Vinh Hung Resort - superior

DAY 5 - HOI AN/DA NANG

Morning in Hoi An. After lunch visit the Da Nang Street Kids Orphanage, House #1 and House #5, then help clean up House #2. Dinner with the children of House #2. Overnight Hoi An; Hotel: Vinh Hung Resort - superior

 

DAY 6 - DA NANG – HUE

After an early breakfast depart for Marble Mountain, then visit an orphanage and have lunch with the children. Continue on the scenic drive to Hue (3.5 hours) and check into the hotel. Overnight Hue. Hotel: Huong Giang – deluxe

DAY 7 - DONG HA

Early departure for the drive to Dong Ha. The morning’s community service activities include painting one house, planting trees at two houses and dedicating the two houses. In the afternoon the group will make a donation of much needed tables and chairs for the Le Mon Kindergarten. After our working day, the group will visit the Vinh Moc Tunnels and enjoy a visit to one of the local beaches in Quang Tri. Overnight: Dong Ha. Hotel: Dong Truong Son Hotel - deluxe

DAY 8 - DONG HA

The day begins after an early breakfast with a drive along the old “Ho Chi Minh Trail” through the DaKrong National Reserve to the Van Kieu Ethnic Minority Village of Spnar. Spend some time visiting the cultural center, schools and the village to see their lifestyle. Donate some soccer balls and have a short soccer game if time permits. Return to Dong Ho where the children from Le Loi High School will be waiting for you to play a game of baseball. The field is one of only 2 baseball fields in Viet Nam. The field was sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The kids have had a professional coach training them for almost a year; however, they don’t often have the chance to actually have international competitions. Overnight: Dong Ha; Hotel: Dong Truong Son Hotel - deluxe

DAY 9 - DONG HA/ HUE

Early departure to the Blind and Disabled Association of Dong Ha to visit with the staff and workers who, thanks to the efforts of Global Community Service Foundation, now have a safe workplace. After our visit continue to Hue to enjoy a boat cruise to the Thien Mu Pagoda. Continue by bus to the royal Ming Mang tomb and on to the hotel. Overnight Hue; Hotel: Huong Giang – deluxe

DAY 10 - HUE/HA NOI

After breakfast check out of the hotel, and ride pedicabs to and from the Citadel for sightseeing. Then to the airport for the flight to Ha Noi 12:10 pm/1:20 pm. Transfer to the hotel for check in. Early evening performance of the Water Puppets and dinner. Ovenight: Hanoi; Hotel: Hoa Bin - ROH

DAY 11 - HA NOI/ HA LONG BAY

Full day excursion through the countryside to Ha Long Bay. Cruise on the Emeraude, in the clear emerald waters amidst 1,600 naturally formed limestone islets of Ha Long Bay. Enjoy a seafood lunch and dinner on the boat. Overnight on board. Overnight: Emeraude Cruise

DAY 12 - HA NOI

Return to Hanoi and enjoy an afternoon shopping and exploring the Old Quarter. Overnight: Hanoi; Hotel: Hoa Bin - ROH

DAY 13 - HA NOI/SINGAPORE/JFK

Sightseeing tour in the morning. After a late big lunch transfer to the airport for the departure flight leaving at 7:10 pm.

DAY 14 - ARRIVE WASHINGTON
Arrive at Washington National Airport 12:05 pm.

Contact Information:

Global Spectrum (www.gspectrum.com) &
Global Community Service Foundation (www.globalcommunityservice.org)
3907 Laro Court
Fairfax, Virginia 22301
Telephone: 703.890.0595

Toll-Free: 1.800.419.4446
Fax: 703.890.0620
Email: marcia@gspectrum.com

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