Category - Diversity

1
My World View on Veterans Day
2
Life in the Highlands compared to Highlands. Wait – What?
3
What Holiday Do You Celebrate This Time of Year?
4
Adventure Planning (Run Research)
5
Small Acts of Kindness – The Beginning of a Great Thing
6
We Are Taking a Page Out of His Book –
7
Travel With a Cause or Cause for Travel?
8
How can World Tree Circle Help Make the Best of My Travels?
9
Being Different is Reason to Celebrate!

My World View on Veterans Day

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Happy Veterans Day America!  Made an official holiday in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson, it was first observed as Armistice Day in reference to the ending of World War I.  It was later changed to Veterans Day in 1954, thereby honoring all veterans, not just those of WWI.  A day to honor and give thanks to all our armed forces for their dedication, and for many, the sacrifices they make so the rest of us may live a life of relative freedom.

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Working on World Tree Circle has encouraged our family to take a broader view on each holiday, each tradition, that we celebrate.  How do other countries do it?  Do they observe the holiday or tradition at all?  So this Veterans Day I felt compelled to take a look at how the world feels about America, most specifically our military.  I’ve been reading articles all morning to that end.  We don’t own a TV in our house so we don’t watch the news on a regular basis.  Rather, we gain our news from the web, our friends and family, and the local papers.  I have gained the impression that America is not very popular, distrusted even, by some countries.  So how do we really rate as a country based on our military?  Out of 318.9 million Americans, at least 150,000 of those  are US military stationed in more than 150 countries around the world (according to Wikipedia, US Military deployments).  Whether at peace or in actively hostile places, they aren’t likely to go unnoticed and how they conduct themselves would be seen as a representation of their country.  They aren’t just tourists, they hold a much higher responsibility.

I found the first article I read very interesting.  We, and I say “we” in a very general way here, tend to look at each case of “to war, or not to war” very individually.  On a case by case basis, rather than in a long term historical view.  Which is how I would imagine other countries are more inclined to see it.  We are taught to see similar foreign military campaigns that way, right?  Through historical accounts on a grander view.  Yet it does seem as though the United States decides based on how it will benefit us and others on the short term.  Did you know that the US initiates a new military campaign roughly every 3 years?! And there are smaller incursions scattered between.  I didn’t realize.  I know there have been several in my relatively short lifetime but to read that was shocking.  No wonder we are taken for a bully.

I was pleased, though, to read in another article that, according to foreign armed forces, our military is known for being generous, kind, and though some stated they thought US military acted a bit “cowboy” in their actions, they had had very positive experiences working with our armed forces despite some rather big differences in protocol and way of life.  A few stated they hoped to have the opportunity to work with them again.  If you’d like to read that article by James Pethokoukis, you can do so here.  The comments get into a bit of an argument off topic but the article itself was very positive.

The numbers I found in a more statistical article didn’t give me the same impression.  Especially with the recent hostilities taking place and our presence in the Middle East.  That seems to have changed more minds about America in the last year.  Overall, of the 24 countries surveyed (for this particular study) 17 of them had more than 54% of the population claiming a negative view of the USA.  However, from what I see, it isn’t a reflection on our service men and women, but more on our government’s decisions and how they use our military that has caused us to decline in popularity with other countries.

This topic could keep a person busy for quite some time, if they really wanted to delve deep but for my purposes today I wanted to get a gist for how things look.  So the conclusion I came to is this, whether you agree with the military actions taken by a country – any country, the men and women in the armed forces are due a fair amount of respect and gratitude for their service.  They carry out orders from their government, upholding an oath to serve and protect their fellow countrymen at the very possible expense of their own safety and freedom, often without their family around to give them strength.  Some here in the states have even gone to far as to refuse to follow orders that don’t hold true to the oath they swore.  That takes a lot of love and dedication to your country and countrymen.   I don’t agree with violence and bloodshed as a answer to any conflict, but I do support our troops in coming home and getting the help they need to live a healthy and full life.  They do more than fight wars.  Most of them have acted above and beyond what anyone could ask and I’m proud of them for being a good example for the rest of us.  I am very, very grateful for the freedom my family and I have.

THANK YOU VETERANS, TODAY AND ALWAYS.

Life in the Highlands compared to Highlands. Wait – What?

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Remember those reports you had to write in school about a past president, a book you read, a country you were studying?  That’s kinda what I’ve been up to lately.  We did all the initial research on where cultures of the top 21 most internet using countries are most prevalent in the United States, but not exact locations, or rather cultural centers or groups.  So, in preparation for the promotional trip I have been researching where to find the best exaMap of Scottland (google)mples, or most experienced people, for each of the cultures we will be visiting and talking about throughout the trip.

The first stop was relatively easy.  We originally planned to start in Highlands, NC. It’s close to home so I figured it would be really easy to find a cultural center to visit.  There are actually quite a few Scottish traits that have been passed on from one generation to the next.  The least of which is being very proud of our history.  According to Scotland.org, “tourism is one of Scotland’s most lucrative assets, focusing on such attractions as golf, walking and a rich history. In industry, too, the country is pioneering and enterprising. Key business sectors include life sciences, electronic technologies, energy and financial services.”  If you have ever visited Highlands, North Carolina, you’d think they were describing the Highlands in North Carolina, not the Scottish Highlands.  Though, we don’t have much in the way of electronic technology or industrial type business here, there is tourism, golf, walking or hiking, and financial services aplenty.

Highlands, North Carolina, is a huge tourist town during the Summer Season each year.  Downtown is bustling with vacationers sampling the local restaurants and seasonal residents catching up in the coffee shop or seeing what’s new in the antique and gift shops.  Compare that to the Fall and Winter here and you’d barely imagine this area holding so many people.  According to the 2000 Census, Highlands swelled from a population of just over 900 in the winter months, to between 10 & 15,000 from spring to fall!  Scotland saw approximately 15 million tourists to their 5.3 million local populace in 2013.

There are also numerous trails that lead to magnificent vistas or breathtaking waterfalls all over the mountaintop.  After watching this YouTube video, I think Scotland has their own piece of paradise they are very proud of too.  (Good to watch the whole video, if you want some ideas on things to check out if you ever visit Scotland.)

The differences, I have found, are not so obvious as you would think.  They enjoy water parks, sports, and the outdoors just as much as we do.  They love good food, listen to a wide variety of music, and enjoy traveling.  The major differences I’ve seen are the accent (a given, I know) and they live on a peninsula and outlying islands, whereas Highlands, North Carolina, is landlocked.  So how do I find out more?  Well, that is what our trip is for.

So I looked for the best place in this area to learn about Scotland and how it is similar, but also maybe more importantly, how it is uniquely different.  Surprisingly, the best place to go to discuss Scottish heritage is not in Highlands, but just down the mountain in Franklin.  The Scottish Tartan Museum is located in downtown Franklin and is educating residents and tourists alike about the Scottish and Cherokee people that lived and died here.  So that is where we will start our journey next summer.

Do you live in Scotland?  Or have you ever been there?  We’d love to hear what you think.  What things to we have in common that aren’t obvious?  And what makes Scotland so magical despite her similarities?

 

 

What Holiday Do You Celebrate This Time of Year?

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As I enjoy days of indulging in lots of good food, time with my family and close friendS, watching my kids open presents, and exclaim over their good fortune I find myself reflecting on what a small portion of us around the world actually share this tradition with me.   What are my fellow brothers and sisters around the globe are doing this week?  Are they celebrating at all?  If so, what are the celebrating and how?

My family traditions have changed a little as I’ve grown older but being together has not changed.  My parents put up a live tree with ornaments collected over our lifetimes.  Each and every one has a story, and together they are the narrative of my loved ones lives together.  This brightly colored tree with its branches laden with the love and memories of my family is the quiet yet powerful symbol of our Christmas.  We exchange gifts carefully thought out and presented with exhilarating anticipation of the receiver’s joy in receiving it.

We stay up late and talk into the wee hours of the night.  Catching up on all the daily affairs we’ve missed out on.  You see, Clarke and I live in North Carolina with our children but we are originally from Ohio and most of our family is still there.  Our kids run with their cousins and enjoy staying up until way past their bedtime, while we adults laugh and joke with each other during the short time we have together before we have to head back to work and school.  It is a joyous time no matter how many gifts or their monetary expenses.

Tis the season to be grateful and giving.  A time of love and peace.  I’m fascinated by all the different facets of tradition and celebrations around the world.  Whether I am of the same mind or not, each and every belief is to be respected.

Would you care to share the Holiday you celebrate this time of year and how you celebrate?  What are your family traditions?  My family and I would be honored if you would share with us and our loved ones?

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Adventure Planning (Run Research)

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Run Location Possibilities As we gear up for Clarke’s run and prepare to order the T-shirts I’ve been trying to do some research on all the places in the USA that have high populations of descendants or immigrants from all of the 21 countries we hope to launch in.  I’m also looking for places that are well known for those cultural ties.  For example, I didn’t know that West 46th St in New York, NY was dubbed “Little Brazil Street” because it is historically a commercial center for Brazilians who live and visit that area. We picked our 21 countries from the studies we did on the highest internet use, specifically social networks.  Those original 21 have changed so we will adapt.  According to Internet World Stats as of 2012 the top 20 countries are as follows (in order according to the amount of internet use):

  • China
  • USA
  • India
  • Japan
  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • Germany
  • Indonesia
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Nigeria
  • Mexico
  • Iran
  • Korea
  • Turkey
  • Italy
  • Philippines
  • Spain
  • Vietnam
  • Egypt

According to another site that I found, Epoch Times, there are 10 that use social media more than others. Those are:

  • Britain
  • USA
  • Russia
  • Czech Republic
  • Spain
  • Poland
  • Brazil
  • France
  • Italy
  • Turkey

So these are all the places where we thought we should aim his runs towards.  So far I have places like NY, NY, or E. Newark, NJ, for Brazil due to their high Brazilian population and/or culture (according to Wikipedia).  It’s really rather fascinating.  I mean, as Americans we are taught from very early on that our country is a melting pot, or maybe now more like a tossed salad, lol.  However, I don’t think it really hit home for me.  This makes it more real for me, I think. Statistics aren’t everything though, and the internet is vast.  If you know of somewhere that is culturally rich and would represent a country, any country, and is here in the USA where Clarke can run without having to acquire a visa we’d LOVE to hear from you.  Any and all suggestions are welcome.  We can’t promise to use every suggestion.  Clarke will be trying to visit as many as he can though and invites others to join him.  Even from abroad.  See your country on the list?  Want to run in your area to raise awareness and help get WTC going?  Let us know.  We will try to coordinate your runs and send you some shirts to pass out in your area too.  This is a world project after all.

Small Acts of Kindness – The Beginning of a Great Thing

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Green Renaissance's photo.

We Are Taking a Page Out of His Book –

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Vishen Lakhiani with Elina Peek and 16 others in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Our leadership team as of Mar 24 2014, 10 years from the day we registered the domain Mindvalley.com. I love building diverse teams. This one has people born in 13 DIFFERENT countries and is 45% female leadership. When you get people from so many different backgrounds together it forces you to communicate, think, and innovate in far more interesting ways. A team with one gender and one cultural background is like a person operating with just one part of their brain. Diverse teams on the other hand, are like operating with your full brain potential. I always bet on diversity.

Our leadership team as of Mar 24 2014, 10 years from the day we registered the domain Mindvalley.com. I love building diverse teams. This one has people born in 13 DIFFERENT countries and is 45% female leadership. When you get people from so many different backgrounds together it forces you to communicate, think, and innovate in far more interesting ways. A team with one gender and one cultural background is like a person operating with just one part of their brain. Diverse teams on the other hand, are like operating with your full brain potential. I always bet on diversity.

Travel With a Cause or Cause for Travel?

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ecotourism_ecotour-orgNow lets look at WTC from the business perspective of the travel industry versus from the travelers’.  Ecotourism is the specific field of travel that WTC would like to promote the most.  Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990)  Its the more physical aspect of what this website does.  Uniting different cultures through education and enriched awareness of other places around the globe.

Groups like USAID (United States Agency for International Development) is one such company.  USAID has benefited many countries through ecotourism.  “USAID supports nature-based tourism activities as part of its biodiversity conservation programs in more than a dozen countries worldwide. The Agency’s ecotourism activities include support for developing national park systems, demarcating and equipping new national parks, recruiting and training park staff, and encouraging government reforms that promote regulated investments in private lodging, guide service, and other tourism ventures.”  According to Untamed Path.  So far they have helped to increase revenue and local involvement in conservation in the parks in Nepal, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Sri Lanka, just to name a few.ecotourism1_www-borneo-holidays-com

There are many many eco friendly travel companies and programs out there.  With a few clicks you can have an amazing and conscientious trip planned across the globe.  We did some looking and found some pretty cool ones in just a few minutes.  One site in particular was pretty informative.  Here we found the top 10 suggestions.  The first recommended was a company called Responsible Travel.  They do all the work of finding hotels, tour operators and other travel options that meet strict sustainability requirements and make them available to you on their site.  The second is Natural Discovery.  They specialize in eco friendly accommodations across England.  The 3rd is a company called Good Travel Company.  A lot of the accommodations they provide around the globe are by train and they put all the hotels, tours, etc. that they promote through a strict audit as well.  To read a brief description of the top 10 ecotourism companies highlighted on the site check out the article on www.theecologist.org showcasing them.

 

The scavenger hunt game will work through the ecotourism and businesses around the world to encourage learning from other cultures and people across the globe by promoting their wares and being part of the hunt.  A location to go to, or an unusual or unique product to find.  It will also provide a place for these companies to promote their product as well as network.  WTC could also be a place for the more adventurous to figure out their own eco friendly destination through their own investigations and interviews of fellow users.  World Tree is a place for us to connect, learn from one another, promote causes, help out and showcase our talents, whatever they may be.

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How can World Tree Circle Help Make the Best of My Travels?

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With so many resources for travelers on the web these days, you may ask what World Tree could add.  It’s a valid question.  In our opinion WTC can add not only a much greater wealth of information to pull from but also a better rating for those suggestions and insights that you have to choose from.  Why just take one person’s word for it when you can ask millions?

Think about it.  World Tree, as a worldwide forum for any topic, would allow you to pose a question to every single person in the world old enough to use the internet.  The answers could be limitless.  That gives you a far more accurate idea of the pros and cons of an area.  Or which attractions in a specific area are worth adding to your list of things to do first while traveling there.

You have 4416 cities in the world to choose from (according to the World Atlas) and the most commonly known places aren’t necessarily best.  Sometimes its just a matter of better advertising and marketing.  And that’s just the cities with a population over 150,000.  There are little meccas of culture with inhabitants that embody a myriad of talents, values, and lifestyles for you to experience.

You don’t even have to travel.  Let’s face it.  As romantic and glorified as travel may be, it isn’t for everyone.  That doesn’t mean that some of those home-bodies aren’t still interested in learning about other cultures and making friends with similar interests no matter the distance.  They just don’t want to leave the comfort of their hometown to do so.  World Tree will give us all the ability to expand our horizons in whatever way intrigues us.

We’re not saying we’re going to be the best tool for world travel out there.  Just one of the better tools to compliment the existing greats.  Are you ready?

Being Different is Reason to Celebrate!

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We have been stressing how important our similarities are for a little while now.  Maybe a little too strongly.  Our differences are very important as well.  They are what help to define us and we don’t mean to belittle that AT ALL.  Differences are most definitely worthy of celebration.  Our similarities bring us together, help us relate to one another.  Just like making new friends when you move to a new school or town.  But our differences are what make us interesting.  It is what allows us to shine.

Take Holidays as a very easy example of how we differ.  No one celebration is more special than another.  They are special to us for reasons that aren’t always apparent to an onlooker.  Some of us practice very elaborate celebrations while others barely observe the same one.  To me, they are all so interesting and unique.  How, and why, each detail is included.

Most, if not all of us celebrate January 1st as the first day of the new year, according to the Gregorian Calendar.   However, China has an incredible celebration with a riot of colors and sounds and smells that lasts for 23 days!  Starting January 31st,  many people clean their homes to welcome the Spring Festival.  Red is a predominant color for the New Year, or Spring Festival, celebration.  There are red posters with poems, red lanterns and Chinese Dragons dancing in the streets.  The Dragons come in all colors, too.  Unlike here in the states, the Chinese Government and many of the businesses are closed from the eve of the Festival through the seventh day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

Russia and Serbia observe two New Year celebrations as well.  They have an informal celebration on the 14th of January, based on the Julian Calendar, called the Orthodox New Year or the Serbian New Year.  This is generally less elaborate.  It is now used more as a way for them to wind down at the end of the busy holiday season of Christmastide and the Gregorian New Year (January 1st).   They enjoy a more quiet celebration with traditional large family meals, singing, and celebratory drinking.

Another country with a new year’s tradition all their own is Peru.  They do celebrate with a festival of drinking, good foods and having lots of fun.  However, they also believe in bringing in the new year in new duds.  Underwear to be specific.  Yellow underwear.  Yep, you read correctly.  The belief that wearing new clothes signifies a new beginning and the yellow signifies luck.  You can also start the new year in red (for love) or green (for money) if you can’t find yellow or have love or money on your new year’s agenda instead.  You could also eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the upcoming year, to bring yourself luck.

Hopi Indians have a ceremony called the “Prayer-Offering Ceremony” that is related to the Sun and coincides with the Winter Solstice which is celebrated by many earth-based belief systems as away to celebrate the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.  It is one of the Hopi’s most sacred ceremonies because it is when they say prayers for the New Year and wish everyone prosperity and good health.

So, you see?  That is just one holiday and we only got to 4 countries.  Don’t even get me started on Christmas.  Or should I say Yule?  Or Hanukkah?  Orrrr Kwanzaa, Ta Chiu, Sviata Vechera, Ganna.  Hahahaha, you get the idea.  Each is amazing and significant, but only celebrated in one or two countries.  Though more and more they spread to other countries as we move around and share our traditions with others.

We’d love to hear more about your traditions.  Please feel free to ask questions about a holiday tradition you’d like to hear more about. OR share your country’s holiday tradition for others to read about.  Eventually we’ll have our question and answer board up for just that sort of thing but for now, we’d love to get a head start with our comments section below…..Thanks!!!

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