As a company created by teachers for teachers, we have always focused on alleviating teacher stress by striving to produce helpful resources and delivering pedagogically-centered, sustainable all-inclusive group trips.
By introducing global issues, investigating, planning and reflecting, we have aimed to inspire students to take what they have learned on a trip and continue it back home: Think Global, Act Local.
When the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) were launched, we felt it was the right transition to focus our trips’ learning objectives on these. When teachers and partner schools asked for resources on how to incorporate the UN SDGs in their classroom activities, or how to increase awareness of general sustainability activities, we created them.
As a result of COVID-19, we had the time to focus on so much of the other feedback we received over the years. We produced new resources, launched the Waste Reduction Challenge, and added new destinations and programs.
One new program that is particularly dear to our heart is our Community-Led Service Trips.
Voluntourism has been a trend for the past decade and is still on the rise. Ten years ago, tour operators would market volunteer trips to remote countries of the world for a few days or weeks. Pictures of young students helping at orphanages would be liked on Facebook, but no one questioned the long-term impact voluntourism had on these communities. We began questioning.
Our aim at CAS Trips was never to go into a community, help build a school and then leave. That is not how we define volunteering, and it is also not how we can support communities in the long-run. That is why we created Community-Led Service Trips (CLS).
Our Community-Led Service Trips challenge the notions of voluntourism and white savorism. We refuse to play the game of low-impact service trips that simply exist to make students and educators feel like they are “doing good”.
Our CLS Trips make sure each project has a long-term impact and contribute to solving concrete needs. Students start by understanding the realities of local culture and way of life, in order to be part of projects envisioned and implemented by local communities.
We create long-lasting relationships between schools and host communities, and provide students with engagement opportunities that go beyond the trips, making a real difference in the lives of both the host and the students.
During our CLS Trips, students will not be:
- Participating in medical activities, because they are not trained doctors or nurses
- Teaching English, because they are not qualified teachers
- Working in an orphanage, because they are not experienced educators, and because it has been proven that short stays in orphanages cause more harm than good for the children living there
However, we want to guide students into the long-term commitment and the positive change that can be ensured if the community is embraced from the start.
Instead students will be:
- Exposed to transparency – We screen all partners to make sure that projects benefit all parties, and that funds allocated to the project go where promised
- Participating in community-led projects
- Participating in pre-trip engagement and post-trip follow ups – Our partners send regular follow ups after the trip, so that students can really see how their work is making a difference in the long-term
- Understanding true Service Learning – Through a process of experience and reflection, students go home with applicable knowledge and life experience, which will serve their future development as responsible adults
- Experiencing authenticity and cultural exchanges
A Case Study: Cambodia
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. Limited education in rural areas is a major impediment to realizing development goals, which affects not only the quality of education but also healthcare, economic and community development negatively.
Chansar and Knapor communes are among the most disadvantaged communities of the country. Up to 80% of villagers in these communes live in poverty, of which 40% in extreme poverty. The majority of the population does not have access to adequate health care, housing, electricity, sanitation and education.
The literacy level is expected to be at 35%, meaning that two thirds of the population cannot read nor write. Yet the biggest challenge the community faces is the unavoidable issues of poor weather, and as a result a decline in the natural water resources.
After a lengthy community needs analysis and planning process with villagers of Knapor and Chan Sar communes, the Angkor Educational Experience was initiated. The Community-Led Service Trip to Cambodia provides students a cooperative, community-based tourism initiative tasked with fighting poverty through development and supplemental income-generation.
We work with local on-site NGOs and communities to ensure that the right services are being provided, and the locals are engaged throughout the process.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.