PERREAULT Magazine September 2014 - Page 79

Perreault Magazine - 79 -

While traveling for business in the late 1990’s, Kimberly Haley-Coleman often found herself in foreign countries with free time on her hands,and a desire to see beyond the traditional tourist attractions.

On one trip to Brazil, she remembers looking for short volunteer opportunities but could only find multi week options.

“I found that so many people wanted the same thing I did, but once you’ve got kids, a mortgage and a busy lifestyle, you can’t go and take three weeks off,” says the former global strategist and business development officer whose portfolio includes CNBC.com “Everyone dreams of going into the Peace Corps, but that’s a two-and -a -half year commitment.”

In 2000 , Haley-Coleman founded Globe Aware, a nonprofit specializing in weeklong service-inspired vacations around the world. Since then, the voluntourism movement has taken hold, and many of the nonprofit and for-profit companies are offering shorter trips catering got busy Westerners with limited vacation days. Most of Globe Aware’s programs, are built around a predetermined service project that can be finished in seven days. From installing concrete floors tin the homes of Guatemala single mothers to building wheelchairs for Cambodian land mine victims, participants spend 30 to 35 hours working in an immersive environment, with the option of visiting the area’s important attractions in their free time. But even the traditional tourist activities are designed to promote cultural awareness.

Our volunteers come away with a real understanding of both the beauties and the challenges of a culture,” says Haley-Coleman. “I would argue that’ s more important than the physical projects we work on-being able to make that human connection and understand each other’s view of the world.”