Whirlwind Trip

Posted on: November 30, 2010 Posted by: Manin Oem Comments: 0

Whirlwind Trip

In the last two months, the PEPY team has been fortunate to have been invited to a variety of collaborative, learning, and promotional opportunities around the globe. Rather than spread these trips evenly throughout the year, the timing was such that we packed everything into a six-week period. Some of our team have been hopping here, there, and everywhere to help raise support and awareness about our work as well as connect PEPY to new ideas. Daniela gives us some information about our recent involvement with SOCAP, Opportunity Collaboration, the University of Notre Dame, PURE Life Experiences, and more!

This month we have a lot of THANK YOUs to dole out! I have spent most of the last six weeks traveling and meeting with many of PEPY’s supporters. I am excited to be back in Cambodia as it is hard to get day-to-day work done when traveling, but trips like this do expose you to new ideas and provide the chance to think about the bigger picture of the work that you do. I have had a lot of chances to think about the big picture of PEPY’s work these past few weeks and I wanted to highlight some of those experiences.

  • Eagle Creek—Thank you to the Eagle Creek team for having me and PEPY board member, Adam Vaught, by the beautiful San Diego offices. PEPY has partnered with Eagle Creek for a number of years, and will continue to partner in new ways in the coming months, so stay tuned for information about that!
  • SOCAP—We were given a fellowship to attend the SOCAP conference for PEPY where I was able to reconnect with some friends who are doing interesting things around the world, like Daniel Epstein from the Unreasonable Institute. Daniel is going to be the Richard Branson of all things good, Unreasonable, and oh so necessary. If you think YOU have an Unreasonable idea which can positively shape our world, check out the Unreasonable Institute as their applications are now open. One of the interesting fundraising and awareness initiatives I came across at SOCAP was tippingbucket.org—check them out!
  • Notre Dame—The next week was spent at Notre Dame, where I was delighted that I had the chance to present at the Notre Dame forum. If you have not used Prezi yet, you need to check it out! It’s much more dynamic than Powerpoint. (You can watch my talk here and get a glimpse of how Prezi works.) The Kronks and I were all in South Bend where we were overwhelmed with the support people showed for PEPY:
  • Pedal for Pupose—Holly Ray (PEPY 2010 Intern and current MBA student) organized a four day awareness and fundraising event for PEPY, culminating with the stationary bike being set up in the Notre Dame MBA tailgates where professors and students cycled to complete two laps across Cambodia. Thanks also to Corbys for hosting an evening event that week!
  • Chicago event and ND Tailgate—Our friends Drew Brennan, Dominic Giuliani, and Chris Powers organized fundraising events for PEPY in Chicago and South Bend which not only gave us a chance to spread information about PEPY to new friends, but also gave us a chance to meet up with a lot of people we love!
  • South Bend PEPY Event—Katie and John Anthony hosted a PEPY information session in their newly refurbished Ivy Court in South Bend with the opening quiz show from the Egan twins of Lula’s Café (for those South Bend-ers, Lula’s Café is moving locations, so stay tuned for where our favorite lunch spot ends up!). We’re grateful to the Anthonys for giving us the chance to connect with more people in the South Bend area and to the Sexton, Heirman, and Kronk families who all came out to support Adam & Jacqueline and promote our work at PEPY.
  • MBA Interterm Class—PEPY was chosen as a partner for Notre Dame’s MBA Interterm program. Jacqueline Kronk and I spent a week with MBA students who used PEPY as a case study for an experiential marketing project. They came up with some fabulous ideas, some of which we have already implemented and many more which we are gearing up to launch in the coming months. We’re grateful to Professor Bill Brennan, Associate Dean Ed Conlon, and Dean Carolyn Woo of the MBA program for the opportunity to be a part of the Interterm classes, as well as to Jeff Stelmach of Mosaic for leading us and the MBA students through a very productive class.
  • More ND—The Kronks and I had meetings and gave presentations through the week such as a presentation to the new Hesburgh-Yusko scholarship students, some of whom had joined in supporting the PEPY events the week before (Thank you Iona & Peter!), the PEPYND club who manage our Google Grants account (Thank you Erin & Team), and more!
  • Opportunity Collaboration—Thanks to the Cordes Fellowship, I was fortunate to be able to attend what has been described as one of the best conferences in the social space—Opportunity Collaboration. The fellowship was sponsored by Ron Cordes who realized that many social entrepreneurs and non-profit managers could not afford to attend Opportunity Collaboration but could benefit and add value if given a scholarship. I’m grateful to both Ron Cordes and Johnathan Lewis (OppColl Founder) for the chance to learn from fascinating people. FYI—the 2011 Cordes Fellowship applications are open now! One of the most fascinating people I met was Sakena Yakoobi, Founder of Afghan Institute of Learning, and I felt so honored to be able to sit with her and learn from her given all of the accomplishments she has had and sacrifices she has made.
  • Culver Academy—My next stop was speaking at Culver Academy at the opening of the Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur. The whole Rubin family was in attendance, and I really enjoyed hearing Ron Rubin speak about building his business, The Republic of Tea. I realized that we share a lot of the same core values and his talk went along well with mine as it was clear that he was very passionate about his company and his employees. The key message in talks I give at schools is usually focused around my favorite quote from Harold Whitman—“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes YOU come alive, and then go out and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive”—and Ron exemplified that in how he spoke about his work. I was grateful to Harry Frick for hosting me at Culver and to the other speakers who I enjoyed meeting. One of the speakers was Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org. If you are an American and you have not heard of Donors Choose, then please visit their page, as their efforts to support American teachers are noteworthy (they are Jon Stewart’s non-profit of choice as well!). When I was first starting PEPY, I had heard of Charles and his work with Donors Choose, so I wrote him an email and asked if I could meet him. He took a few hours out of his day to sit with me and tell me about his work, and it was such a nice experience to, more than five years later, meet him again and be re-inspired by his passion for what he and his team are doing.
  • Where There Be Dragons—I spent the next few days meeting with one of our partners, Where There Be Dragons, as we are co-organizing another Educators Course this summer. If you know any teachers who would like to join us in Cambodia in July to learn about development issues and then go back to incorporate this learning into their classroom at home, send them our way!
  • Dubai—We were fortunate to meet many wonderful people from or working in the UAE through our partnership with Dubai Cares last year and I was able to meet with many of them last week as I traveled to my final stop in Morocco. Thank you Jeff and Jane, Michael, Chethan, Nojoud, Kamelia, Sandeep, Genefa, Majid, Waleed, Dhana, Asma, and all of the Zayed ladies for taking such good care of me!
  • PURE—My final stop was PURE Life Experiences, where I was fortunate to be able to visit the beautiful Kasbah Du Toubkal outside of Marrakech which was a escape from the city and chance to see more of the beautiful landscape. PURE is an “Inspiration Only” conference for high-end travel operators and tour designers. This space is not where PEPY usually falls, but it was a very valuable learning experience to see how the high-end market operates. There are many opportunities for partnerships with groups who are coming through Cambodia and others who we can learn from, so I am grateful for Serge and Elena who made my stay at PURE very worthwhile. There are so many places in the world I’d love to visit, and I was inspired by people who are doing things well, like Mei Zhang of Wild China (www.wildchina.com) who is offering cultural tours of her home country, Amit Sankhala who spoke about using tourism initiatives to protect Indian wildlife, and of course people whom I was lucky enough to meet again like Steve Markel and all of the folks at OARS who have been inspiring people through outdoor travel for many years. There is so much to see! There are new places that I now want to visit to learn more about, like Namibia where people like Tristan Boehme are offering adventure travel and protecting tigers at the same time (see Africat.org). I was also fortunate to be able to visit the beautiful Kasbah Du Toubkal outside of Marrakech which was a escape from the city and chance to see more of the beautiful landscape.

So that’s the world tour! I’ve been inspired from all angles by students, business leaders, travelers, and entrepreneurs who are living what they love and igniting change in others through their work! It has been a wonderful around-the-world experience, brought to us from many PEPY supporters who have given us the chance to learn and expand in new ways these past few weeks. Now that we are back in Cambodia we can take the time to implement the new ideas which have inspired us! I enjoyed the opportunity to grow and learn personally, as I know that the success of PEPY relies on each of us who work here growing and improving ourselves as we work to build up our organization and our positive impact on the world. Thanks for being a part of this journey and thank you to all those people who housed me, fed me, entertained me, and inspired me who I was not able to list here! You are loved and I am thankful for your support!