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Global Explorers Blog

Letters from The Fort, Volume 1:  A Wanderlust Branding

Dear world:

You’re captivating, aren’t you? Your twisting of new melodies and ever-complex intricacies have swallowed me whole, dropped my jaw and spit me out here. What a trip. Remember that bench in Granada? Remember how the choreography of those moments branded my soul? How watching that dance unfold, the laughing, the crying and the smelling of flowers, forever changed the way I view the world? I remember. I remember because it taught me two things that are now as much a part of me as my brown eyes and inability to do math:

Number 1: Everything is connected. I may not understand the Spanish obsession with mullets or the appeal of large hanging from every window, but I know that I saw something of myself in the eyes of those young girls; I felt something of common-humanity in every cheek I kissed.

And, 2: The impulses to explore are worth it. Follow them.

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Posted by Shannon Smiley  ·  September 29, 2010

If You Can Read, You Can Travel

“I stab my fork at the lump of black submerged in the bowl of okra sauce. The head surfaces, its eyes blank and white, its teeth still gnashing its tail. I want to be good, to slurp up this meal with gusto and ask Mama No. 2 for seconds.” – Sarah Erdman, Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village

In a lyrical account of her Peace Corps service in , Sarah Erdman craftily draws the reader into the grit and grace of the West African nation.  Her words evoke taste and texture, emotion and experience.  Closing the book feels like stepping off a plane onto American soil after an intimate faraway journey.

Erdman is one of many contemporary writers whose work falls into the broad category of travel writing.

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Posted by Laura Portalupi  ·  September 22, 2010

Screensaver of the Week: Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Posted by David Shurna  ·  September 20, 2010  ·  screensaver

The Story of Chhouck

Just because you are an orphaned baby elephant with three legs and one prosthetic doesn't mean you can't enjoy life!

After having his foot caught in a poacher's snare, Chhouk was discovered by a conservationist in the Cambodian wilderness, malnourished and barely able to stand.  Due to illegal poaching, Chhouck is one of only about 300 Asian elephants left in Cambodia today.

After being transferred to the refuge center and being fitted with a prosthetic leg, Chhouk has gained a new lease on life.  Visit him at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge Center just outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia for a dose of inspiration, or if Cambodia is too far away, check out this of the inspirational elephant!

Posted by Danielle Thuringer  ·  September 17, 2010  ·  cambodia

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

“Are all forests like this?” one Compass student asked as we entered the lush rainforest at one of the world’s premier biological research areas: La Selva Biological Station. At first glance this rainforest looked similar to many other of our world’s forests. However, for this student, as well as many of the other Compass students, it was his first journey in to a forest. “I have never been to a forest before. This is amazing!”

La Selva comprises 3,900 acres of tropical wet forests. Although much of our world’s natural heritage has been lost to expanding global population and resultant deforestation, the Station has about 73% of its area under primary tropical rainforest. In 1968 this forest was purchased by the Organization for Tropical studies and declared a private biological reserve and station. Since then, it has become one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rain forest. Over 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site.

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Posted by Jordan Robbins  ·  September 15, 2010

Screensaver of the Week: Mexico Sunset

Posted by David Shurna  ·  September 13, 2010  ·  screensaver

International Literacy Day

September 8, 2010: Happy International Literacy Day! Today is the day to remember that there are many adults and children around the world who lack literacy skills. One in five adults (780 million people) do not know how to read or write, with two-thirds of these adults being women. Between 94 and 115 million children lack access to education. Though 98% of all nonliterate people live in developing countries**, literacy issues exist right here in America. The U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Adult Literacy reports 30 million U.S. citizens have below basic prose literacy, meaning that they have “no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills.” Moreover, 11 million adults were nonliterate in English either due to language barriers or lack of education.

Interested in helping address this issue? Idea 1: Go to . For every book you read to a young child, a book is donated to the region of the world that you choose. So read to others and give the gift of reading around the world. Idea 2: Volunteer with Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign. Idea 3: Donate to any of UNESCO's 2010 Literacy Prize Winners. Learn more at

Posted by David Shurna  ·  September 8, 2010

Screensaver of the Week: Serengeti Tanzania

Posted by David Shurna  ·  September 6, 2010  ·  screensaver

Travel Music Buzz – Clandestino by Manu Chao

What is it about a genuine travel experience that keeps us coming back for more and more? Is it the education we receive from travel? Is it the fun? The adventure? Sure – those are vital components to making any travel experience a successful one. But for me it’s the FEELING that I’m addicted to. Travel awakens our senses. Travel lets us feel the pulse of a new place. It gives us a new beat to move to, both literally and figuratively.

As a student and a lover of both travel and music, one of the most exciting things I’ve learned from traveling is that there’s a whole world of music out there to discover. Music helps define cultures and speaks a universal language that connects us all.

The Global Explorers Travel Music Buzz is a place to learn about what happens globally outside of the Top 40. Hopefully, you’ll find something new that you like!

We’ll start with an absolute classic by a truly global artist whose music has become synonymous with travel and can be heard buzzing from hostels and lodges around the world... Manu Chao...

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Posted by Jordy Oleson  ·  September 3, 2010  ·  travel music buzz