Recently one of my friends accused me of not having a job. “I’m curious, what is it you are actually doing over there?” he asked. So instead of writing about my Khmer boxing class (my knuckles are still bruised), I believe it’s time to set the record straight: I do have a job and it’s awesome.
First, a little background…
As you may already know I have a dual degree in public relations and anthropology, which to many doesn’t make sense but makes me uniquely qualified for positions like the one I’m in currently. Officially, I’m the Communications Officer for PEPY Tours, a social enterprise dedicated to responsible tourism and learning service (as opposed to service learning).
Last week I attended the first lecture in a series on the topic of social enterprise. In the past, I’ve worked primarily with NGOs so the whole concept is still a bit new to me. On a scale, social enterprises fall in between not-for-profit organizations and socially responsible businesses. The particular social enterprise I work for uses the profits from our tours to fund our sister NGO, PEPY’s (Promoting Education emPowering Youth) education projects in rural Siem Reap. If a particular tour group visits one of our other partner NGOs, like Cambodian Rural Development Tours (CRDT), a portion of our profits go to them as well.
Everyday I’m becoming more familiar with concepts I’ve always believed in, just didn’t know the name of. For example, Daniela Papi, the founder of PEPY Tours and PEPY NGO is also working on a separate project called Learning Service, a term she coined to represent the idea of learning before helping. Especially with the growing “voluntourism” more and more people are rushing out to work on short-term projects without giving thought to the long-term effects. Too often than not, communities in developing countries see more harm than good come from volunteers eager to help out on their vacation.
In addition to managing our social media accounts, responding to trip enquiries, and helping prepare participants for their upcoming adventures, I am working on a media pack for an upcoming Learning Service contest. Starting in January we will be releasing a series of videos over six weeks, each one containing information about how to choose responsible volunteer programs.
I can feel myself stepping onto a soapbox, so I’m going to back-up a bit. I promise I will have a lot more to say on the topic of responsible tourism in future posts.
The PEPY Tours team is incredible, and I’m not just saying that because I’m Facebook friends with most of them and they might read this. Between the five of us we represent four different countries and cultures: Cambodia, Colombia, the England, and the U.S. Everyday before we venture to the market for lunch (or Latte House if we’re feeling particularly Western) we set aside 20 minutes for language learning. Mondays and Wednesdays we have English class and Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to Khmer. I’ve finally gotten the numbers down but my basic conversational skills need a lot of work…
So there it is, proof I am actually working here.
If you still need convincing, check out our Twitter account and Facebook page. I’m posting regularly but still haven’t gotten the hang of switching between the PEPY Tours account and my personal one and somehow keep “liking” my own posts on PEPY Tours as PEPY Tours… Real professional…