Over the years, Global Exchange has enjoyed collaborating with Morehouse College, a liberal arts college in Atlanta, Georgia, to provide students and professors with a pan-African global experience. From Cuba to Ghana, we have explored socio-political, economic, artistic, and historical representations of race and ethnicity that have led to fruitful cross-border collaborations.

We are thrilled to have built upon this tradition by sending our first Morehouse custom Reality Tour to Ecuador, a country whose relatively small Afro-descendent population (just over 7 percent) faces disproportionate rates of poverty and unemployment while contributing tremendous artistic, athletic, and intellectual talent to mainstream society.

Our group met with Afro-Ecuadorian leaders working at various intersections of racial, economic, and environmental justice. José Chala, one of five Afro-Ecuadorian National Assembly members in an assembly of 137 people, spoke about his platform to increase Afro-Ecuadorian representation – from challenging Eurocentric educational curricula to the (re)naming of monuments and plazas.

Morehouse student with José Chala in Quito.

From Quito, we traveled to Mr. Chala’s hometown region of the Chota Valley, where Afro-descendants make up over 75 percent of the population. Morehouse students exchanged with their high-school aged peers, playing bilingual hangman and trading dance moves. The school’s slogan “We are guardians of our ancestral cultural patrimony”prompted a reflection on the connection between the preservation of cultural heritage, the formation of group identity, and the advancement of inter-generational struggles for justice. A participate noted that in the U.S. this is also known as “staying woke”.

The Chota community welcomed the students warmly. The local Women’s Community Tourism Project arranged for homestays, providing students an opportunity to share meals and conversation with Choteño families. Ileana Caravali, a young Choteña leader showed the group incredible hospitality and was an inspiring example of female-led economic development through sustainable tourism in her community.

From Quito to Chota, the trip was infused with the Afro-Ecuadorian rhythm of the Bomba. The unifying nature of the drum across the African diaspora remained a present theme throughout, and the Morehouse group learned how to make the Bomba drum from Don Cristobal Barahona, how to play it from Limber Valencia, how to dance to it from Rosa Mosquera and Casa Ochun, and experienced it in a community gathering with La Banda Mocha, a world-renowned Choteño Bomba band.

The trip was also marked by a call to action: for international solidarity amongst the black diaspora and those allied to it.  Miles Johnson, a sophomore at Morehouse College, reflects:

Many Afro-Ecuadorians are facing the same issues that African Americans are facing, however their problems and the problems of many other Afro-Latinos are not often recognized when discussions of systems against people of color arise within the United States. The trip showed me the importance of learning and understanding the culture, history, and current challenges of all individuals of the African Diaspora.

We are grateful to our Global Exchange Ecuador-based program leader, Yury Guerra, for his incredible work to make this trip possible. 

It’s that time of year again. 2018 has drawn to a close and we look ahead to what the new year could bring. We resolve to make changes, from improving our health to investing in our relationships, ditching the smartphones, engaging in community, and learning new skills. What if you could tackle all these resolutions in one?

We invite you to travel with us — a human rights organization. We’ll give you the opportunity to take a deep dive into the complexity of world issues, to tap into established local networks, to access insider knowledge, to learn a lot, to have a lot of fun and make new friends along the way.

So make 2019 the year you travel, and let us help make it the one where you return healthier, more connected, more knowledgeable, and more empowered. 

Here are four brand-new trips to kick-off the new year:

Vietnam: Beyond War’s Toxic Legacy

February 21 March 3, 2019

Explore the quaint and history packed streets of Old Hanoi, sampling the freshest and most complex flavors of Vietnamese cuisine along the way. Enjoy an overnight onboard a cruise in Halong Bay, visiting floating villages and small beaches while meeting with local villagers and enjoying fresh seafood. Explore the legacy of war, from trails and tunnels used decades ago to current projects addressing remaining cluster bombs and lingering health impacts of Agent Orange — and so much more! **This delegation is confirmed **

Bolivia: Indigenous Identity

February 22 – March 3, 2019

On this 10-day program from Santa Cruz to La Paz and amazing places in between, we will meet with Indigenous communities on the front-lines of the struggles against resource extraction, water privatization and climate migration. We will end our journey by taking part in the Anata Andino, an Indigenous carnival festival with over 100 rural communities participating in giving thanks to mother earth.

US/Mexico Border: Migration, Militarization & Human Rights

April 7 – 13, 2019

Participants will explore how US immigration policies and trade agreements have impacted immigration and migration. We’ll learn about the impacts of decisions made by the current US administration, meet with diverse groups, community organizations and individuals from both sides of the border to hear firsthand about the reality of the Southern Arizona borderlands.

Japan: Following Our Waters

May 8 – 14, 2019

Did you know that Crystal Geyser is taking spring water from Mt.Shasta, packaging it in plastic bottles and shipping it all the way to Japan? Join a group of Mt. Shasta environmental activists to see, firsthand, where our waters have gone while engaging with Japanese community leaders.

We hope you’ll join us in 2019 to celebrate 30 years of building a connected global civil society dedicated to a peaceful and just future for all!