Tag Archives: world

“Be The Change That You Wish to See in the World” – is not just a statement



Last night I had the honor of sharing my experience in Brazil as a means of paying it forward in my community and here is what I had to say (wanted to share it all with you)….

Every now and then life affords us opportunities that could never possibly be recreated, retold, or even fathomable. And it is when we leave our hearts open that these moments come alive. This is exactly my journey with Red Rocks Community College and US-Brazil Connect.

This experience has proven to me that I am far greater than what I thought possible. It has taken away fears, given me confidence to continue in the direction of my dreams, built my leadership skills, and has continued to show me that in this life, we all NEED to connect with one another.

It has shown me that I can create impacts in the lives of people across the world that will last a lifetime. One of my students expressed to me that I lit the fire in his heart to do greater and bigger things. Another student wrote in a letter to me, that I had given him the courage to go for his dreams and to get himself out of living in a favela. One of the most impactful things that I witnessed was no matter their situation each one of my students ultimately sought out true happiness.

Something that was impossible to deny in Brazil was pure affection, care and love for another, even amongst the most, vast array of beautifully looking people that I have ever seen. I wish that I could count the number of kisses, hugs and moments of compassion that were expressed towards me while I was there. In the United States, we sometimes forget the healing power that this can have on people.

It was also hard to ignore the disparity in quality of life, when Brazil is known as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This country is growing at the expense of its most important citizens and at the mercy of globalization. It is my generation’s responsibility and the responsibility of Brazilian citizens, which we saw in the protests, to change the way that we think about consumption, success, and profits.

It is impossible to summarize my experience in a short speech so I will leave you with a few key points:

  • always love, always be kind and always be generous
  • don’t ever let your misconceptions get in the way
  • be thoughtful and be mindful
  • truly be that change that you wish to see in the world- it is possible not just a statement
  • never stop observing
  • most importantly never stop learning

I am forever indebted to Red Rocks Community College, US-Brazil Connect, my biggest supporters, the Colorado-Salvador team and most importantly my amazingly, inspiring,  and motivated group of eleven young Brazilian individuals- for this I am truly grateful.

Life is incredibly too short to not seek out your true happiness. Today, I challenge you to do the same.


Elevate: Inspiring Transformative Travel

As I continue on in my journey of following my passion for sustainable tourism and figuring out ways that I can give back and create positive impacts throughout the world via travel, I am beginning to surround myself with inspiring and impactful thought leaders in the realm of sustainable tourism. Today, I thought I would share one of these admirable people with you.

Her name is Dominique Callimanopulos. She is the founder and president of Elevate Destinations in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her inspiration for the creation of Elevate stems back to when she was younger. She traveled a lot and during this time and she witnessed in her words, the “gap in resources” between her life at home and the communities that she was able to visit. (Her revelation moments…)


Now Dominique and the Elevate crew are making extraordinary and unforgettable positive impacts throughout the world. They run 121 different types of trips in 29 countries, sprawling over almost every continent. Their mission of transformative travel aims to transform both travelers and destinations through travel and meaningful experiences. Many of these trips include service and volunteer trips. Elevate offers Donor Travel trips where the donor has the opportunity to travel to the communities they are supporting. This is creating a deeper connection, increased cultural exchange and long lasting impressions on the donor and the community.


Elevate also offers Urgent Service Trips to Haiti. Not only is Elevate connecting volunteers to disaster relief programs on this trip but they are ensuring that their efforts are socially and environmentally sustainable.

Elevate Haiti. http://www.elevatedestinations.com/journey_haiti.html

In my email interview with Dominique she said, “Our donor travel programs for international non-profits have helped to raise millions of dollars to address a wide range of issues, including water and sanitation, women’s empowerment, poverty alleviation and more. Our Urgent Service volunteer trips to Haiti have raised funds for youth on the ground.” Additionally, Elevate provides carbon offset options for all land portions of travel and also encourages offsetting your flights. They partner with the most sustainable accommodations in the areas they visit, ensure their partners are following sustainability guidelines and much more. Not only is Elevate managing to accomplish all of these initiatives, but on top of everything they are donating 5% of the net cost of all private trips back to non-profit and local community partners that support conservation and social efforts.

Taken at Elevate’s Giving Back Safari

It is important to remember that while the world may be our oyster we must honor its beauty, preserve cultures and the environment, lift up communities by asking them what they need and travel to contribute the fabric of the world rather than taking away from it. Elevate is doing just this. Support people, initiatives and companies that are paving the way for this to exist in the future.

You know how it is.
Sometimes we plan a trip to one place,but something takes us to another.
– Rumi

Lastly, her words of advice to me were, “focus on creating lasting partnerships both with tour operators and trusted non-profits that are engaged for the long term in community-led initiatives. Cultivate a network of colleagues working toward similar goals, participate in associations to leverage your impact and innovate”. If you are passionate about responsible travel and respecting the environment and communities that we get to be witness to I would love to connect and share with you.

I thank Dominique and the Elevate crew for your work and inspiration. I urge you to check ’em out.




All photos courtesy of Elevate Destinations

Our World Is Getting Smaller

Cordillera Blancas-Peru
Cordillera Blancas-Peru By: Axel Nilsson


For many travelers and especially adventure travelers to set out on a journey means to an extent disconnecting. Disconnecting from the stresses at home, from the high demand lifestyles, from ourselves, from the internet and our devices and the ability to always know exactly where we are at every moment… I will be the first to admit that this is my preference of travel. My most recent trips abroad I have left my phone in the cup holder in the car at the airport with it awaiting my forsaken return.

However, today I am writing about the benefits of our world getting smaller through this connection. We have access to the world at the tip of keyboards. I recently have taken on an internship position that partners with the Brazilian government to work with high school students teaching them English. I have already gotten to know them immensely through a private facebook page where we share all kinds of information. We also use skype and google plus to connect with one another. Right now I also have a sister in Colombia and another in Costa Rica (one mind you is 21 travelling solo) which through good ole FB I have been able to stay in touch with. I just received a message from a very good friend from Montanita, Ecuador that he made to the small surfing town. These outlets are amazing ways to make new connections and connect with the ones we love. Not to mention the occasionally fb stalking of my friends that are travelling abroad and perusing through the libraries of photos and following their journey along the way.

This has created somewhat of a conflict with me deciphering the line of disconnect and connect and questioning how much of these outlets are inhibiting us from truly running wild and free.

What is your opinion?

Photo: Taken by Axel Nilsson in the Cordillera Blancas, Peru. (a friend that has been trekking through South America for eight months.)