One of the best things you can do this holiday season (or any time of the year, especially this year) is to help those in need.
There are thousands of worthy organisations worldwide that are helping those affected by Covid-19 or that are continuing their regular work because hunger, poverty, violence, and so on didn’t go away just because the pandemic came to the forefront of our attention.
Whatever non-profit or charity you choose to support, if your personal situation allows it, will be endlessly grateful for your donations, your time, or anything else you can give.
If you have a bit more to spare and are looking for other incredible organisations to support, here are some that I am giving to this year.
As you travel around Thailand on your scooter, one thing that is for certain is that you will see elephants along the roadside. On the edge of town, halfway up a mountain, just outside a temple, elephants, sometimes even baby elephants. But after your brain’s initial excitement (ELEPHANTS!!) the logical side of your mind will catch up to your childlike wonder and you’ll notice a sign advertising elephant rides, how thin and malnourished the animals look, chains or ropes around their ankles, scars indicating phajaan, or breaking the spirit. It’s hard to see and worse to notice the throngs of tourists eager to sit atop these majestic creatures without a care for their well-being. Equally as bad are the number of elephant parks that advertise themselves as “sanctuaries” to capitalise on another type of tourist’s desire for a more ethical experience, when their parks’ methods are no different than the abusive ones in the roadside attractions.
Still, I was hopeful that I could have a genuinely ethical trip to a real elephant sanctuary in Thailand, and so we went to the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai. As we went on the weekend of my birthday, Steve treated me to the overnight trip, two days and one night staying at the park, visiting the elephants, walking some of the hundreds of rescue dogs they also care for, and learning about Thailand’s animal tourism industry.
Here’s part two of my recommendations for Japan! I’m going to include three sections in this one: Hakone, Kobe, and Nara, as we only spent a short time in each. To read about what we did/what I’d recommend in Tokyo, click here. And check back on Monday for recommendations on Osaka and Kyoto!
One of the things I love most about studying abroad is the chance to travel. Last spring when I was in London, not only did I get to visit some of the best places in England (Liverpool!) but I got to see a lot of other amazing locations in Europe (some of my favourites were Firenze, København, and Edinburgh). This semester, I’m trying to do a little more of my traveling in Spain, rather than galavanting all over Europe, because I’m trying to learn the language, but I do have a couple trips outside of the country planned, and even staying within Spain there’s plenty to do and see.