Archives For travel

by Annie Rose Ansley, HOPE Trips Liaison

In the last few years, more and more information has been shared about the harm that can come from short-term mission trips, or, as they have been dubbed, “voluntourism.” We’ve heard the negatives: $2 billion spent annually, paternalistic attitudes reinforced, cycles of dependency created, construction work “invented” for visitors, and dignity stripped.

But I believe short-term trips can be done well. Here in the Dominican Republic, I work with groups who come from the U.S. to witness what God is doing through the microfinance work of HOPE International’s local partner, Esperanza International. We visit loan repayment meetings, spend time in clients’ businesses and communities, study the Word together, and share meals with local staff members. Distinct from what many of us think of as the typical mission trip, the focus isn’t what the visitors do but what they learn.

I’ve seen these trips be positive, powerful experiences—both for the visitors and for those we visit. And so, based on my limited experience, I’d like to humbly make a few recommendations: Continue Reading…

By Annie Ansley, HOPE Trips Liaison, Dominican Republic

After almost a year living in the Dominican Republic, my husband and I have adjusted—for the most part—to the pace and style of life here. However, I still get frustrated when tasks that used to be simple in the U.S. are difficult, inconvenient, and time-consuming. I think it’s natural to make comparisons, but it’s almost certainly not helpful. So I wanted to realign my perspective by writing down a few things I’m thankful for in the D.R.: Continue Reading…

In my six years as a writer on HOPE’s staff, I’ve been privileged to visit HOPE-network staff and clients in regions across the globe, and my trips are typically just a few weeks long. Here are the tricks I’ve learned to help maximize short-term experiences—for both you and those you visit.

1. Aim to be the best guest ever

Imagine the number of details your host is arranging for your visit. Now remember that they’re coordinating them on top of an already busy schedule, and you’ll see that your host is going above and beyond for you. Show your appreciation by being as pleasant and flexible as humanly possible. Gift-giving is also important in many cultures and should be standard in your travel protocol, however small the gift. When visiting American expats, think care package, and with national hosts, bring something related to your home region.

2. Research the dress code

Ask someone who knows the country or research online for cultural- and climate-appropriate dress, and remember that rural areas are often more conservative. For security reasons, it’s also wise to shoot for the “nationally ambiguous” look (avoid American logos, matching group t-shirts, and extremely casual clothing).

3. Venture beyond English

Americans are woefully renowned for being monolingual, but technology has left us with no excuse. Learn basic greetings and how to say your name in the local language—I guarantee your efforts will be received enthusiastically. Consider gaining a basic understanding of common trade languages like Spanish, French, or Swahili.

Continue Reading…

Red dirt road Malawi

For two months near the end of 2013, I had the incredible assignment to write and take photographs in Malawi for HOPE International. While in the Warm Heart of Africa (Malawi’s moniker), I met some sensational folks. I experienced its beauty. And I witnessed how HOPE Malawi’s church partners are reaching the financially vulnerable.

However, I wish I’d known a few practical tips before arriving.

If you’re interested in traveling with HOPE (or international travel in general) as an intern, fellow, or visitor, here are a few things to take with you … Continue Reading…

I’m just finishing up my first international travel with HOPE, first to Romania, to attend the individual lending spiritual integration conference Matthew wrote about earlier, then on to Ukraine to track down some of our first clients as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary later this year. I’ll write more about my actual trip later, but first a short lesson in Russian. I had been surprised to learn that while Ukrainian is the official language and is spoken by 67 percent of the population, Russian is the main language in the east, where I spent much of my time in the city of Zaporozhye. Continue Reading…