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Experiencing Art through Travel
11 December, 2018 at 2:46 pm 0

Foto: © Authenticitys

  “When you visit a country, visit the forgotten artisans of the narrow streets because they are the ones who made that country! Do this, not to honour them but to honour yourself!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan   This blog post might serve as a reflection about the authenticity of travelling. Let’s think about what that word might mean in relation to both travel and art. So, if you think about travelling, you usually try to search for an authentic experience, something that goes beyond a typical encounter with a new culture of a country. “Travel like locals”- how often do we try to obtain this experience? You see, all too often art can be seen as an expression of showing the own culture, to demonstrate the lived experiences and the learning process. The artist’s work is a reflection of what his or her mind is about. Probably, what most of you always associated with travel in Europe is the exploring of museums, cathedrals and other historic buildings. Thus, the discovering of authentic art in a culture is part of tourism and travel. In this sense, the authentic experience of a culture that you visit is often given through the eyes of art you see and experience there. Probably the main reason why writing about the experience of art through travel is important is to show that art and travel aren’t far away from each other – contrariwise - they have some crucial connection points. Discovering beauty The experience of local art might provide you with an alternative side to learn from another culture and a deeper cultural understanding of the country you visit. However, it is not enough to find out what different ways of expression exist and to learn the disparities to your own culture. The condition is to try to understand the culture through local art. Only by then, the real beauty of a new culture can be discovered. “The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine There are plenty of things to be gained from going abroad: new friends, new experiences, new stories. And of course – new attitudes towards life. But travelling into another country may come with another benefit, too: Some scientists say it can also make you more creative. Imagine this prospering creativity that comes through travelling by discovering local art in your journey – a double learning effect. If you are really open to discover the beauty of a different culture through art, there are plenty of possibilities waiting for you. Maybe one of the most authentic local art expressions in a city can be seen in Street Arts. Like in on of our experience tours in Athens you are getting to know a different side of the town through the eyes of one of the most provocative and celebrated artists there. By experiencing this type of local art, you will gain a profound understanding of what is happening at the heart of the city through an unconventional way and support the artistic community that thrives there. Another example leads us to the local art experience in Buenos Aires, where you have the chance to visit the main galleries of contemporary art in the city with a specialist guide in this field. If you have ever wondered how a local artist sees his own culture – these experiences take you through the underworld of art and provide you with a deep understanding, far away from “normal” tourism. And of course – the pure beauty of artisan art pieces show precise traditions of a culture where you get to know the local side better. Like in tours through the Artists colony in Delhi the creative local communities can be inspiring for your own creativity and a stimulation to understand the foreign culture. In general, we should all invest more time and thoughts about art and the individual expression of views while we are travelling – because it is an alternative but direct way to discover the beauty of the culture in the country or city we are visiting.

Foto: © Authenticitys

 
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When sustainable tourism meets microfinance
4 December, 2018 at 7:22 am 0
Is it possible that tourism can contribute to poverty alleviation in our world? We say –  “Yes, it is!”

Foto: © Alternative Peru

So, let us explain what we mean by that:
It has become more accessible than ever before to travel from one point of the world to another, experiencing different cultures and using a variety of opportunities that are exposed to us. Family and friends, voluntarily dispersed over the world as a whole becomes more and more habitual and does not prevent us from seeing each other rarely.
More than ever, it has become a significant part to find ways and solutions to turn these global changes into a useful tool to transform this world into a better place, fighting back poverty and destitution. Therefore, the travel industry has opened its doors to various sustainable tourism businesses, contributing to a world of good.
How can our increasingly globalised world and the powerful travel and tourism industry serve to fight poverty?
The Ph.D. research into “Microfinance Tourism and Poverty Alleviation” analyses the extent to which Microfinance Tourism serves as a tool to fight poverty in developing countries and provides recommendations for the practical development of it. As an influential social impact Startup in the tourism industry, Authenticitys participated in this research. Besides, the first social enterprise of our Co-founder and social entrepreneur Elena Rodriguez Blanco was about microfinance and tourism and thus, provided the research professional information on the issue.
Microfinance tourism is the intent to engage tourists and tourism organisations to find solutions and possibilities for poverty issues.
The vision of microfinance-related goals seeks to assist men and women living in poverty to engage in different projects, to develop personal capabilities and skills and of course, to gain basic needs through financial provisions. In a way, it can “positively influence the global structures (including exploitative and/or unjust tourism structures) that exaggerate and/or perpetuate poverty” and provide also to tourists and tourism organizations social responsible alternatives. What happens when tourism meets microfinance?
One can say that microfinance tourism is capable of offering, beyond alternative tourism experiences, positive socio-political solutions that contribute to poverty alleviation by engaging tourists and local communities to collaborate.
As a matter of fact - microfinance organisations and associations can offer people living in poverty the necessary financial and educational support to be integrated into entrepreneurial activities. Thus, in this sense, tourism can reduce poverty by introducing economic and educational development solutions.
Here’s an example of how one unique microfinance organisation in Peru is building a unique relationship between tourists and regional indigenous groups:
One of the intercultural experiences Authenticitys offers is an alternative guided tour through the outskirts of the city Cusco. Here is, where you get to know the other side of the city with a guide that leads you through the local neighbourhoods‘ off-the-beaten-path’.

Foto: © Alternative Peru

This specific experience will take you to the higher areas of the city, where the ‘pueblos Jovenes’ have settled. It is a tour where you will meet the organisation ‘Asociación Pro Vivienda’ that gives you relevant background information about the local communities of the area, the history, and their lives.
This intercultural encounter with local Cusqueños focuses on current topics like cultural recognition, discrimination, environmental problems, and other social obstacles. Through this project organisation it is not only possible to connect people of different cultural backgrounds and engage local people in a tourism organisation, but also to invest in the local economy and support a local social project that contributes to better the socio-political conditions of the communities. The goal is to foster the intercultural encounter between tourists and local people and to engage the local people to collaborate in a tourism organisation that profits for both sides- tourists and locals.
Tourism that leaves a positive impact - it is a unique chance to get in touch with the locals, exchange your visions, ideas, and experiences in life and thus, to support and assist people in the communities to engage in different social projects.
 Thinking together, in the long run, will not only provide unique experiences and better transform the tourism industry- what is more, it enables sustainable solutions that fight poverty and support communities at the margin of society to get integrated and stand up for themselves.
Is it possible that tourism can contribute to poverty alleviation in our world?
We say – “Yes, it is!” And much more than that.
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Sustainable Shopping ? No Shopping !
28 November, 2018 at 7:32 am 0

Foto: ©Greenpeace

Did you survive THE world's biggest shopping day last week? How many of you could not resist this year’s Black Friday- shopping? It’s no secret – for many people in this world, Black Friday is the most important shopping day of the entire year. Millions of so-called “Shopaholics” are ready to wait in line for hours and even to camp on sidewalks to rush through doors when the stores open, in order to get what they want – cheaper. Sales, Sales, discount, more, more and more – every year on a usual Friday-November the same commotion. Has this day become all about money, consumerism, and greed? As with many other organisations, like Greenpeace, we from Authenticitys would like to present you an alternative point of view about “Black Friday”: Ever heard of the campaigns #NoBlackFriday or #BuyNothingDay (#BND)? Some people believe that Black Friday represents a consumer culture, which is harming the planet. Out of this belief and as a protest against the capitalist strategy behind Black Friday, the Buy Nothing movement encourages people to take a stand by buying nothing at all or only buying handmade or used goods. Of course, the initiative behind Buy Nothing Day hopes that the idea will extend beyond just one day and provoke a new way of thinking and a sustainable solution. There are tons of things to do, rather than falling into the track of capitalism and to spend the money on unnecessary articles.  More and more people are following this movement, spreading the critical message of sustainable awareness to the world and thus, triggering a new wave that is a step further to create a better world. Of course, also the tourism industry is affected by the massive surge of Black Friday. All the offers and tempting possibilities that are spread through the media are often hard to resist, especially in a new city, where everything seems new and exciting. All the more, it has become crucial for a sustainable world to behold to the insight, think twice and act in an alternative way. Watch out for our travel guide, sign up and get it for free. You might ask yourself now - how can I do that? There are a couple of things that offer you alternative solutions to “commercial shopping” where you support a sustainable environment. (Watch out our travel guide) A first step could be your own signature shopping bag. We all know, plastic is not good for our planet, as they end up in landfills that take forever to process. Thus, cloth bags instead of plastic bags are a great way to make a statement and to contribute to sustainability. And of course - shop local! “When you buy from a small business, you’re not helping a CEO buy his third holiday home. You’re helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy his team jersey, moms and dads put food on the table. Shop local. ” This quote sums up the shop local movement, one of our key messages. We believe that what you spend your money on is what you choose to empower. When it comes to travel, we’re passionate about giving urban travelers the chance to spend their money on businesses and initiatives that make communities better, rather than ones that build large international conglomerates more prosperous.
In this sense, there is also the option to find sustainable fashion stores that better transform the tourism industry.
The Sustainable Fashion Walkabout in “El Born”, is a tour Authenticitys provides,  as an alternative and sustainable fashion experience in Barcelona. With a local fashionista, you can explore the native designers, local boutiques and nature-inspired materials that make up Barcelona’s sustainable fashion scene. In this way, you will not only support the local economy but also ecological innovation and sustainability in the fashion world. Forget Black Friday - celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead and transform the word “shopping” into a contribution for a sustainable environment. Might be worth thinking about …              
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Social Impact Through Language and Culture Exchange
9 November, 2018 at 8:28 am 0
Since last year, the social impact platform Authenticitys collaborates with the project of Abrazo Cultural, which offers language courses, cultural workshops and intercultural experiences with migrants in Barcelona. Abrazo Cultural is an open space organized by people from different backgrounds that provides not only cultural workshops and events but offers as well language courses, given by refugees. The cultural workshops include, among other things, the Arabic script, Syrian cookery courses, as well as decoration and handicraft workshops. These activities provide the experience to learn from other cultures, share cultural experiences and connects people from different cultural backgrounds. Besides, the language courses contribute to foster the intercultural understanding between people and is an intent to break our cultural and national borders. How can we contribute to avoiding dehumanization of refugees in the cities we live in? “Being a refugee is the most pervasive cruelty that can be exercised to human beings. You are forcibly robbing this human being of all aspects that would make human life not just tolerable but meaningful in many ways” (Weiwei, 2016). With these words from his documentary “Human flow”, the Chinese contemporary artist and activist, Ai Weiwei reveals the plain truth of a refugee’s fate and brings out the dehumanizing reality. The ‘simple’ fact of being a refugee already brings a dehumanization with it: the exigency of leaving behind everything you set up in your life and, in a sudden, find yourself in a continuous uncertainty and constrained restlessness is what marks the questionable condition of the human beings. All the more, these individuals should get an exceptional status to help them to preserve their dignity and to encourage them to a trustful and forward-looking attitude. The focus of projects like Abrazo Cultural is set on the necessity of a mutual commitment and the collaboration in order to recognize the individuals behind a "fleeing mass" and to help to maintain the humane conditions of refugees. Our solidarity is required and necessary in society to maintain or establish a stable and connected community. Especially for people who have to flee from their countries of origin, because of war or other reasons, we have to open our doors and arms and provide the chance to get equally involved in our society. Thus, the collaboration of Authenticitys with the organization Abrazo Cultural is an intent to sensitize people to obtain and impart intercultural awareness and to demonstrate the necessity of social responsibility by connecting with people seeking asylum. Travelling with the aim of learning from refugees contributes to a great extent to the establishment of an equal-based society and generates positive outcomes of the intercultural encounter. By choosing the social impact of equality, considering the roots of humanity and holding on to our insight, one might be able to put oneself in the other’s position and therefore erase the dehumanizing danger of refugees.

"Abrazo Cultural" Foto: © Abrazo Cultural

"Learning from each other" Foto: © Abrazo Cultural

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The challenge of managing “Overtourism”
5 November, 2018 at 7:31 am 0
How has it become so far? Why are travelling people around the world provoking the new term of “tourismphobia”? More and more people are moving into urban areas, leading to the fact that nowadays more than half of the world’s population live in cities. This inflow of people into cities increases the tourism flow into urban destinations and thus, challenges the impact of tourism on cities and its residents. To dive deeper the on-going issue, it is essential to name some relevant definitions to better understand the meaning and the impact of it. What does “overtourism” actually look like? And how can “tourismphobia” be defined? On the executive summary about “Overtourism” the World Tourism Organization described the expanding issue as the “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts, therefore, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitors experiences in a negative way”. Dealing with the current issue, the Responsible Tourism Partnership links ‘overtourism’ with “destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably. It is the opposite of Responsible Tourism, which is about using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit. Often both visitors and guests experience the deterioration concurrently.” Tourism is, or better said, should be an opportunity for communities and their people to share the benefits of their cities and to foster the socio-economic development, employment, infrastructure development, and export revenues. The challenge of tourism has always been to find a way that benefits both sides- the visitors and the residents. Unfortunately, the issues of perceived overcrowding, noise, pollution in some cities and other things emergence protests against tourism and turns it into a prevalent thread, spreading terms such as ‘overtourism’ and ‘tourismphobia’ in the media. “Tourists go home”, Tourism kills the neighbourhood” – messages like these have been seen on walls or public spaces in several travel destinations. How can we deal with this problem? How can we create awareness of the on-going issue and bring sustainable tourism to the masses? With the focus on engaging travellers and to make sustainable tourism mainstream, there is a group of organisations, including Authenticitys, that spread the idea not to put pressure destinations but rather to offer quality experiences to citizens as well as to visitors. This actions would also enhance the relationship between residents and visitors and therefore, create a sustainable tourism environment. Only through the right community engagement, a careful planning that respects the capacity of the destinations and especially by increasing the relation between visitors and residents- tourism will be sustainable. “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” – states Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations New Urban Agenda. To deal with overtourism must now be a priority and each individual being has to be part of this process – to turn “overtourism” back to tourism, as a possibility that benefits both sides- the visitors and the residents. Within the framework of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, designated by the United Nations, also this year the influencing global campaign #travelenjoyrespect is trying to follow its main objectives like raising worldwide public awareness about the issue and mobilizing relevant actions in a city destination to foster sustainable traveling. “Respecting the culture and rights of the people of the city in which you are traveling, minimizing the environmental damage caused by the act of traveling, practicing ethical consumption, and making an effort to choose local shops, restaurants, markets, and handicrafts” – might be impulses to think of a sustainable way of traveling. All travellers and citizens likewise, living or visiting in a travel destination deserve to live content and sustainable and thus, the common will of creating this sustainable development will be necessary. Perhaps overtourism is an outcome of our present reality of immense mobility and new cross-culture possibilities; however, one should never leave behind the idea of travelling in a sustainable way, including the intercultural exchange and the respect for the earth.
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Why intercultural awareness is crucial for travellers
19 October, 2018 at 4:06 pm 0
cultural.awarness.authenticitys The whole process of intercultural communication begins with the perception of the differences that exist in the encounter with the 'other' individual. The message of intercultural communication circulates around the "message linkage between individuals or groups from two different cultural situations" and the “the bridging of the gap between different cultures”. One can ask now - What does this have to do with Authenticitys and our way of travelling? Travelling with social impacts starts with the necessity of intercultural awareness and mutual understanding. One has to mention that Interculturality is based on this mutual understanding and interests, in which respect towards ‘the other’ is needed to learn from each other. The proper intercourse with diversity is not only about tolerating and accepting different cultures. It is about the inquiring and explaining of oneself in order to create this essential, common bond. Only through the openness in an intercultural encounter, the opposing subjects can understand each other and intercultural coexistence can actually become fruitful. No matter in which city you are travelling, which culture you visit- the encounter with ‘the other’ is guaranteed and thus, intercultural awareness needed. Thus, growing familiarity towards ‘the other’ has to proceed step by step. Like most of the things in life, this process is necessary to provide some time for mutual understanding and learning. An outstanding example of Authenticity offers would be the tour “Walking with the Zenú Community” in Cartagena, Colombia. This experience is all about intercultural interactions and connections and getting to know the perspective of the ‘other’. Also, tours like “Experience local Lima” in Peru try to create with tourism a social impact that fosters the intercultural awareness and the interest in foreign cultures. What is more, for more than 30 years, every second Sunday of October the ‘Día Internacional de Cometas por la paz’ (One Sky, One World) is celebrated - an event supported by the United Nations and UNESCO that uses the kite as a multicultural symbol to promote the mutual understanding among peoples, social justice and dialogue for coexistence. To cut a long story short - a day of sensitization, public participation, and social denunciation. The objective of such events and tours is to recognize and interact with the complexity of ‘the other’ for a peaceful coexistence. Peace and peaceful coexistence in a society can only be established if individuals break their own cultural barriers and recognize the other human being in the interpersonal encounter. This interpersonal relationship of an intercultural encounter must always be taken into account. The key that needs to be discovered from the concept of the intercultural exchange is the 'simple' humanity, the relationship between two or more human beings who communicate because it is the only way to share our thoughts. Obviously, it is not easy to set aside our prejudices about the 'other', and it is even more difficult to modify our way of thinking and change our perspectives. However, it is necessary to start from there - changing our way of thinking and recognizing the 'other' in a positive way. Therefore, the world, which each individual has to strive for, is a world in which each individual is well received and approaches the 'other' with an open mind, interest, and curiosity to learn something ‘new’. In common sense - to struggle for peace. This hope lies in the way children are acting - sincere and with open hearts like they are born, acting as symbols for peace in the world. As Dante Algheri says: "Three things remain of paradise: the stars of the night. The flowers of the day. And the eyes of children (1265-1321) ". Approaching the other human being with honesty and without prejudice, like a child, that should be our objective in each interpersonal encounter while travelling. Let us be the initiative to change the world for a world of peace and equality, where each individual is welcome with its uniqueness and uniqueness. Let us break the borders of our cultural "shell", and learn from the exemplary mind of children, by facing the "new" with sincerity and curiosity to spread worldwide peace. And let us travel the world open-minded, honest and authentic, to enable peace and harmony in this world: “How can there be peace without people understanding each other? And how can this be, if they don’t know each other. But how can that be, if they do not in the first place set out to know themselves“ (De Gennaro, 2017). birds.flying.authenticitys
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Getting Personal…and FINALLY (doing what many of you have told me to)
1 May, 2018 at 6:24 pm 0

Barcelona from my home (and the moon setting in a very early spring morning)

So, you probably haven’t heard from me via email for a while. Most of you might know I have been travelling, and, scaling my business, Authenticitys. And maybe you have been following some of my adventures via social media. Well….today is a bit different. Today is a holiday in Barcelona, where I am at the moment, and I wanted to take a bit of time to share something more personal. Here goes. I was recently out with friends who are as passionate about experiences as I am. We not only like to ask each other “What are the best experiences in different places we travel to?”, but what actually makes for good experiences. And what this particular group of friends didn’t know (yet) is that for years for my birthday I have been designing experiences for myself, but that every year the stakes seem to be getting higher when I consider what the experiences for THAT day should actually be. This got me thinking about how I should share some of these experiences with you. You will see why as you read further. All my closest friends know that I love to celebrate my birthday (September 19th) in a very experiential way. I always, always celebrate it…regardless of where I might be in the world, or who I am surrounded by. Some years I have celebrated it with complete strangers that then became friends. I think of my birthday as a time of celebration, and also of pushing my boundaries a bit further, expanding and changing. I usually look at what I have experienced so far in life, and where I am at, personally and professionally. And then rather than make new goals, I seek to have an experience that might expand who I am. Some of my friends laugh with me and at me…but I think I get them to think about what experiences can help them grow too. Here are just a few examples of past years for me: • Sleeping out in the open in a mountain 6,000 kms from where I live. • Walking +500 kms by myself in Camino de Santiago. • Going into a retreat called “Radical Aliveness” where I lived every human emotion in one day (in a beautiful place though!). • Flew to San Francisco to start a company (not terribly original, but it happened). • Being in absolute silence for days. • Deciding all the art pieces in my apartment would be made by me or people I know personally (they are not that scary, but definitely abstract!) • Write another book • Not plan my birthday or any weekend for a year • Say “yes” to as many random things as possible that came my way (these have taken interesting directions!) • Just “be” for the day …and the list goes on. Some were experiences that require time and effort, others were about slowing down, or doing something that scared me. The intention is to create something new, shifting things, so to speak. Anyways, even though this year wasn’t a “big number” year, it felt hugely different. I’ve found myself that there had been an accumulation of small paradigm shifts happening in the way I experience life. No midlife crisis yet (and luckily no burnout since the last one 5 years ago!). Maybe it’s everything that is going on in the world, the news, or the way I look at things…or maybe it’s just the spring…who knows! You may be asking, “Elena, so why are you telling us this now?” What I didn’t tell you before about my birthday experience this past year – it was with two close friends, inside an apartment on a rainy day, thinking about how we can serve better, how we can best invest our time, and our energy with everything going on now. It was about how we can show up for others! How I can show up for YOU! I’m serious. As many of you have noticed, I have been investing in redoing and revamping the way I do business. From this +10 years doing what I am doing, the last years were the ones I did the most thinking, feeling and further investing into connecting the dots. In fact, I even went ahead and spent a LOT of money on high-level coaching and trainings that have led to a realisation of intense breakthroughs and AHAs that had been building up all this time. This sort of clarity has taken me to a new version of myself as an entrepreneur and experience designer. And I have been sharing these revelations through my live teaching and masterclasses, and for those people who I get to physically meet. But…(the infamous “But”)… There is one REALLY BIG request I have been getting so frequently and I’ve been holding back – despite many of you asking for it. I’m contemplating doing something about it. But I’m nervous because it means sharing with you more of myself and my business than I have in the past. And I’m also going to need your help. Anyway, the REALLY BIG request is…(will share in the next post) Love, -Elena Rodríguez Blanco, the experiential travel human P.S. I’ll be back with more details in a couple of days. But until then, share in the comments what are some incredible experiences you’ve had that changed you. Does anyone else do something crazy for his or her birthday or any other day?
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Authenticitys featured in new book: “Transforming Travel: Realising the potential of sustainable tourism”
1 May, 2018 at 9:41 am 0
Jeremy Smith's newest book: "Transforming Travel" combines stories from leading companies, interviews with pioneers and thinkers, along with a thorough analysis of the industry's potential to make lasting, positive change. At Authenticitys we are thrilled to be part of this movement, and the stories in this book. Here's what you can find in it: - A unique collection of case studies and stories of the most successful, inspirational, impactful and innovative travel businesses in the world. - A vital presentation of the latest research and statistics on the positive impacts and potential of transformative, sustainable tourism, - A positive and realistic vision of the scope of tourism to promote sustainable development at a time when travel and interaction with foreign cultures are facing numerous existential challenges. Written in a highly engaging style Transforming Travel presents an urgent argument for transforming tourism so it might reach its potential to promote tolerance, restore communities and regenerate habitats while providing a vital guide for anyone looking to develop the successful sustainable tourism enterprises and destinations needed to do so. And a small summary by the author himself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp4JJWtnh7I&index=8&list=PLA6tUPK41nmjYEUHQ2p-aIVj6pKCJ-1Tk
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5 things to keep in mind when designing impactful experiences
13 February, 2018 at 9:56 am 0
As the founder of a social impact experience company (www.authenticitys.com) creating 2-3 hour unforgettable times that make a city better I have given long thought to how best to design them. (more…)
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Authenticitys 2017: A year in review
5 February, 2018 at 9:58 pm 0

OUR 3rd YEAR boasted new highs, exciting global cities and partners, and a powerful amount of impact while serving +5000 customers! We are grateful for this year’s work, where we have seen our evolving organisation reach global impact, with social impact experiences in capital cities from Bucharest to Delhi, and for the first time in other cities that have STORIES TO TELL from Cali to San Sebastián.All while being a B Corporation Certified Learning and Travel Experiences Company.

Read about our journey!!

B Corporations are leaders of the global movement of people using business as a force for good™. B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified overall social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

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