It has been a busy month in planes, trains and automobiles, if you will pardon the movie reference.
From its celebrated symbols of patriotism to its undiscovered neighborhoods, the sights and sounds of Washington, DC
are inspiring. Beyond it’s most familiar vistas, the capital city unwinds into a lively urban center. Casual cafes and upscale bistros line the trendy streets of Georgetown, while the downtown district sizzles with a host of new restaurants. Spontaneous Jazz notes tumble out the windows of U Street's nightclubs, while world-class performers take the stage at the highly acclaimed Kennedy Center
. Kayakers tackle the Potomac River as it winds past the elegant marble tributes to America's great leaders.
I was invited to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
. President Carter established the President’s Commission on the Holocaust November 1, 1978. Then in 1980, Congress unanimously passed legislation to establish the United States Holocaust Memorial. I was surrounded by visions of Darfur
…the current exhibit on show there. But the focus that day was on the fate of all people who are isolated, persecuted, incarcerated and abused for being a certain color, living in a particular part of the world, or exercising religious freedom.
The following day it was next door to Baltimore
, a bustling city built on tradition and civic pride and the location of HBO’s hit mini-series, The Wire
. Since the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor in the late 1970s, Baltimore has set the standard for urban renewal and is now a major travel destination welcoming over 11 million business and leisure visitors each year.
The crown jewel of Baltimore is the Inner Harbor, a scenic and popular waterfront area with dozens of retail stores, restaurants and attractions. This, combined with Baltimore's easy accessibility, makes the city unique. What most people don't realize is that most sites and neighborhoods are within walking distance of each other, and this makes Charm City an ideal place for business as well as pleasure.
My meetings in Baltimore included a stop at The Orchard Street A.M.E. Church
. Free Blacks and slaves donated their labor and in 1837 built the structure at night by torchlight. According to oral tradition, the church's original buildings served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. During the 1970s, construction workers uncovered a secret tunnel underneath the church, which is now the oldest standing building constructed by Blacks in the city of Baltimore. There was an enormous effort recently for funding, after a water main burst and flooded the church.
And now I have just returned from London, where I met for three days with our CEO, Kevin Morgan, our COO, Jim Miller, and our UK partners who help us provide unique teaching and volunteer experiences there.
Our meetings were held in Mayfair
, set roughly between Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and Park Lane, which is at the very heart of London. This area has been owned by the Grosvenor family since 1677 and takes its name from the 15-day May Fair, once held there every year.
Mayfair's expansive and handsome architecture has always attracted the very wealthy. For nearly 300 years the most influential people in the land have enjoyed its elegant squares, broad Georgian thoroughfares and beautiful parks. Mayfair also boasts the capital's most exclusive shops, hotels, restaurants and clubs.
The results of our meetings in London will provide not only a more firm foundation of volunteering and teaching abroad, but also create a framework around consistent themes that make each GeoVisions
project a safe, secure and life-changing experience for the community and the volunteer.
Thank you for making 2006 another great year!
We always appreciate our volunteers, teachers and anyone interested in our overseas opportunities. But during the holidays we reflect on the many people who make our Global Work and Service Programs
strong. Providing inspiring volunteer and teaching opportunities in 18 countries in 60 different projects worldwide, we have much to be thankful for. Please know that as we grow you are always important to us and your voice will always be heard, no matter how many volunteers and teachers work with us.
Pushing the envelope to improve our programs, responding to the needs of our overseas partners and being fairly priced and managed are our top goals. In 2007, we hope that you will continue to be impressed with our Global Work and Service Programs.
To our volunteers and teachers (and those thinking about volunteering) — best wishes for a wonderful holiday.
To our overseas partners — good luck with your inspiring work next year at each of your projects. Know that we are behind you, providing the very best teachers and volunteers worldwide to help fulfill your mission!
I look forward to seeing you in 2007!