What is the likely impact of your idea? (150 words max)
Let’s imagine a company that operates safari tours in Kenya, bringing hundreds of travelers from all over the world to enjoy the richness and diversity of the country. While the company is directly involved in opening up a new set of experiences to their customers, that relationship remains mostly one-sided.
Now imagine if that same company also operates cultural tours to Thailand. Imagine the cross-cultural dialogue they could foster if they donated a tour and took local Kenyans on one of their 15-person tours to Thailand.
Now imagine if 1,000 tour companies decided to donate just one 15-person tour per year, the possibility of opening up a world of new experiences and grooming 15,000 new cultural ambassadors could be an inspiring process.
Why is promoting global travel and engagement important? What makes your idea innovative? (200 words max)
The personal enrichment and heightened sense of awareness that come from stepping outside your environment to explore, taste, smell, and immerse in another culture is immeasurable. The travel industry has realized this fact for years and has capitalized on people’s intrinsic need to explore.
ICU2 aims to begin to equalize this relationship by giving those who would otherwise have no opportunity to leave their countries a chance to see and acknowledge other cultures, accept their similarities, and begin to appreciate their differences.
The ICU2 Visibility Initiative is innovative in many ways in that it will try to work with existing established tour operators, using their existing resources. By setting ICU2 up as a nonprofit organization that the tour companies join, it will provide these companies the opportunity to write-off these donated tours and trips as charitable contributions for tax purposes.
What would it take to launch or spread your idea? How much would it cost to make your idea a reality? (150 words max)
Many tour companies are already plugged into social media and networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. By leveraging existing relationships, the travel industry can self-promote this initiative.
Solid rules will be established when selecting recipients of donated tours. Since ICU2 wants to give the opportunity to those who can’t afford it, mini contests such as essay competitions and simple lotteries can be held to aid the selection process. Participants will also be tasked with sharing their experiences within their local communities upon return.
The ICU2 initiative will look to work with photo companies to donate disposable cameras with free processing so participants can share their experiences through photographs.
The premise of ICU2 is self-sustaining. The tour operators already have the facilities and resources in place to support their participation. Minimal additional costs may come when working with local governing authorities to provide supporting letters for passport and visa applications.
Describe your work as a social innovator (150 words max)
My true education began as I traveled as an African in countries where Africans seldom traveled. I soon began to connect with others across my skin, through my eyes and ultimately through my camera lens.
Having studied geography complimented my photojournalism. While in Nicaragua documenting cross-cultural interaction between teachers, I was also able to demystify Africa by teaching them all facets of its geography – physical, social, natural, and cultural.
As a social innovator, I actively seek out opportunities to reuse and leverage existing resources.
The solidarity we humans share transcends culture, language, race, and religion.
It is shared through smiles – I celebrate your existence with you. It is shared through touch – I understand where you’ve been.
It is shared through the eyes – I acknowledge you.
Imagine Kenyan Maasai nomads finally meeting Mongolian nomads as they travel the Trans-Siberian railway on a donated tour.
What an enriching experience!