Archives For travel

by Aspen Pflughoeft, HOPE Trips participant

How do you make your senior year of high school memorable? Perhaps an epic prank day? Senior skip day? Well, I was able to take a different approach: a HOPE trip to meet savings groups in Comas, Peru (pictured above), with my family. When we departed, I had two weeks of classes left. But my dad, who had been on a HOPE trip the previous fall, recognized the immense value in exposing me and my sisters to different languages and communities. Through ten days in Peru, I learned incredible lessons that, a year and a half later, have changed the way I live. Continue Reading…

If American people see that kid, they will think he’s really poor.”

My Rwandan colleague’s words jerked me out of my reverie.

Bumping along a rural Rwandan road, my eyes tried to absorb it all—the undulating hills, the downy clouds that dotted the wide-open sky, the goats and chickens. My eyes caught on a little boy running in front of a row of houses.

The little boy wore only a pair of shabby shorts that appeared to have once been khaki-colored. Reddish dust covered his body from his cheeks to his feet. I noticed that he was barefoot. Continue Reading…

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. Continue Reading…

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…