April 2014 will forever remain enshrined in my mind because of the trip I took to La Push, WA with GCN. I had inwardly known that the organization was reputable for walking its talk of providing unique immersion experiences with local communities around the world so what unfolded was not only remarkable but exceeded what words could describe. How can you clearly describe the hospitality, the outpouring of generosity in spirit and in deeds of the Quileute People? From the time we entered the village, it felt as if we were in a different world altogether. Time slowed down to a rhythm that mimic the music of waves and the winds howling through the rain forest that surrounds La Push. To me it was the must surreal experience I've ever had since emigrating to this country.
Our amazing team leader provided guided reflections of our experience and tactfully helped us to unplug and leave our different lives behind so that we could be in the moment and savor the experience. The magic of GCN was nearly palpable! The team became one family, sleeping, cooking and eating together as one. It was as if we were just another family in the village of La Push! The elders visited and had dinner with us and we returned the visits too! They invited us into their homes, shared intimate stories of their lives and in some instances enjoined us to pray with them for peace, health and the fulfillment of our wishes.
One evening, I visited with the two elders and told stories. I sang a song in Nso and the elder sang a Quileute song too. We held hands and prayed for our brother who was going through a tough time. At some point, one elder said that it felt to him as if we had always known each other. It felt to me too.
The next day our team visited the elder of elders and made music together. He shared the Quileute lore with us and invited us to sing in the sacred circle of healing later in the evening. The tribe joined in in our song. With our voices and our drums we became one people under the sun. There were no "whys, hows, whats or whens!" Just a people in the moment, communing but yet saying nothing.
It wasn't the projects we did but the partnerships, the relationships and friendships that emerged that we celebrated at the end and continue to cherish.
I have a family in La Push now thanks to GCN.
The many trips I have taken with Global Citizen Network (GCN) as a volunteer team leader have been AWESOME!! While visiting rural communities in Nepal, Kenya, US, Jamaica, Mexico, and Ecuador I have gained firsthand knowledge and perspective about the cultures, the people, and governments in the developing world. Observing the personal transformations of GCN team participants through active engagement in community development projects is a very moving experience. What's most powerful to me is GCN's mission: "Global Citizens Network seeks to share and promote the values of peace, justice, tolerance, cross-cultural understanding and global cooperation by providing opportunities for cross-cultural expeditions with indigenous peoples around the world."
I have lived the power, the challenge, and the joy of being a GCN volunteer involved in projects related to health, education, social issues, and employment with community members. An enduring experience! Since the community members themselves are required to select the local projects that GCN teams partake in, we attentively observe their decision-making processes. Powerful! Community members also volunteer and participate in the agreed-upon projects. Challenging! GCN becomes a catalyst in promoting self-reliance through cooperation when working as a community team. Meaningful! For two or three weeks the community and GCN volunteers become a core "dream team" inspiring broader community participation. Joyful!
Thank you GCN!
GCN encourages us to "discover the world of differences we all have in common" and does an outstanding job balancing the needs of global volunteers and the communities served. They lay a solid foundation for experiences that honor the common bond of humanity. I traveled with GCN twice to Northern Brazil 2010/2011 (mostly working with and learning from the indigenous Xukuru nation as we partnered on their schools and community center) and last July to LaPush, Washington to share experiences with the indigenous Quileute nation, working on clearing out their tsunami trail. I would highly recommend GCN, for it's careful consideration of volunteers, leaders, community projects, and structure. My life is forever changed by my journeys with GCN and I'm looking forward to the next opportunity to serve in partnership.
I traveled with GCN to Ecuador with my cousins and it was an amazing experience. This trip afford us the time to grow as a family and connect deeply. We learned so much about one another through our interactions with the community. The people of Tumbatu were so welcoming and it is obvious how much effort GCN puts into the relationships with the communities where they partner. This trip inspired me to slow down, understand how non-Westerners do development and the true meaning of solidarity.
I had an amazing experience with Global Citizens Network when I went to Chirapa, Peru in December 2012. I had always traveled solo before to Latin America so team travel was new to me. I met incredible people from the states as well as the community and fell in love with team travel. Having a rich experience on a team to process and reflect was critical to our success in working effectively with the community on a project driven by their PTA. I have new life-long friends after this experience!