We love all the meaningful ways our travelers find to make a positive difference in this world. Annie Laszlo is a shining example of this generosity of spirit. Since joining the CX traveler community four years ago, she’s gone from a welcome addition to a bedrock member, contributing her unbridled enthusiasm and heartfelt generosity in equal measure. We’re always grateful for Annie’s participation in our projects, in particular when she lent us a big helping hand in the creation of our 2013 recipe calendar, So we were of course very excited when Annie signed up to join us on our 10th Anniversary trip to Oaxaca, Mexico this past March.
– Notes and photos from CX Traveler Lois Brassart
Time slows down to encourage savoring the delights of Guatemala
Arrived as strangers left as friends
You would never know Guatemala is the second most improvised country in the Western Hemisphere. Certainly there are signs of poverty, however the generosity of spirit and welcoming smiles overcome the initial heartache
MEMORIES OF HEARTH BAKED BREAD WITH LUCIANO THE BAKER (VALDIGEM, PORTUGAL)
– By Lee Stubis, CX Traveler
“The aroma of baking bread greeted us as our Culture Xplorers group entered the small room where Luciano was already busy pulling paddles of golden, round loaves of bread from the large wood-burning stove into baskets. Once all these hand-crafted loaves were in baskets, Luciano would deliver them to restaurants in the Douro Valley region of Portugal.
Congratulations to the e Bond, Winner of the The 2012 Positive Impact Photo Contest!
LOCATION: Hoi An (Vietnam), 2010
STORY: Meet my friend Mai. We met while he was participating in a workshop I was teaching on behalf of the Lifestart Foundation. I was in Vietnam to teach handmade books, but somehow about halfway through it became evident that Mai was actually an amazing painter. Once discovered, we created a new project and since then he has been making beautiful hand painted hats. Mai’s life, like mine, was forever changed by that encounter. Each time I travel I learn just how much I don’t know about everything and how exciting it is to gather new information.
- “Home Sweet Home”
- LOCATION: Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 2012
- STORY: I recently traveled to Cambodia to volunteer with Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC – www.eycambodia.org). I was invited to visit a student’s home located in a poor community on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The girl in the photo had been spending a lot of time taking care of her little brother. Just three days before this photo was taken, her mother gave birth to another child. This little place is now home to 6 people.
- LOCATION: Marble Mountain, Da Nang (Vietnam), 2011
- STORY: For a few shorts hours each the morning a beam of light slowly moves across Huyen Khong cave nestled deep in Marble Mountain. A steady stream of domestic tourists, monks, foreign travellers and Buddhist worshippers make their visits throughout the day each taking away something different from the experience.
- “O Gaucho”
- LOCATION: Border of Brazil & Uruguay, 2011
- STORY: This is a photo from the most remote trip I’ve taken to the border of Brazil and Uruguay, for a festival called Semana Faropilha, the largest gathering of gauchos every year. It was like stepping out of a time machine into the wild west era, except gauchos dress like a mix of cowboy and pirate. It was so rare for an American photographer to be there that they interviewed me on the farm radio and for the newspaper, and I was guest of honor at several of the gatherings I went to. This photo was taken of a gaucho at one of the parties. After taking the picture I joined him for a beer and he told me all about his gaucho life. .
- “Giving A Hands Up”
- LOCATION: Punta Gorda farming village, (Belize), 2010
- STORY: This Sustainable Harvest International project of building a more fuel efficient and health producing stove was a team project of volunteers and local families. After successful working together we enjoyed visiting over a family prepared traditional lunch. In addition, we educated about sustainable practices and planted cacao bushes, supporting a fledgling chocolate making industry as well as eliminating need to “slash and burn” forest cover. This was a life changing experience for my great grandson and myself as well as for the local farmers.
- “Pinky & Sapna”
- LOCATION: Jaipur (India), 2010
- STORY: In 2010 I taught in a slum in India. The people in this slum worked hard but had very little. Our school was the space between two buildings with a tarp tied over it to keep the sun out. No chairs, not desks, no books. This was the closest thing my students had ever known to school. This is a picture of two of my students, Pinky and Sapna. They were always eager and engaged. Both girls were the oldest child and spent most of their time caring for younger siblings, yet somehow managed to remain wonderful students.
- LOCATION: Kalaw, Myanmar (Burma), 2010
- STORY: I was sitting outside a pagoda in a small Burmese mountain town and a small group of young monks, interested to find out what I was doing, gathered round. I found a bicycle trick video taken from YouTube to show them. More monks started to appear until there was a group of eight or nine. They stayed with me until a bell rang when they thanked me and headed inside for lessons.