May 18, 2018
Today I'm interviewing Jessica Hansen, Global Engagement Manager for Kiva (the world's largest microfinance non-profit) and a lifelong traveler who is deeply committed to doing good in the world. I recently had the opportunity to hear her speak at the fantastic 2018 Women in Travel Summitin Québec City. I immediately wanted to invite her on my podcast to share about her extensive travel and in-country work experiences, as well as her insights into voluntourism and social impact travel.
It is difficult to know what impact our jet-setting has and how much money is actually going into the local economy rather than benefiting other parts of the tourism industry. It’s also hard to know which voluntourism organizations are actually helping, versus those that (while well-intentioned) are actually hurting people or the environment in the areas they seek to serve.
In this episode, Jessica talks about what to look for when seeking to do good while traveling, what could be red flags, and which organizations are doing incredible work connecting travel to positive social impact (specific resources are listed in the episode show notes). She also shares some of her own personal travel journeys, and what led her to embark on a life of international service. Our conversation left me not only inspired, but also deeply motivated to dedicate my future travel to doing good.
More about Jessica Hansen: Through her work with Kiva, Jessica builds partnerships and community to alleviate poverty and create opportunity worldwide. She is passionate about helping people unleash their capacity to impact the world positively and to think critically about the best and most sustainable ways to do so. Prior to Kiva, she worked in rural Kenya with Nuru International, co-creating programs to raise literacy levels in rural primary schools. She also spent over a decade working with refugees through organizations including UNHCR, the International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps. Her career has focused on the protection and empowerment of women and girls, increased access to education, and the rights and safety of refugees and immigrants, with fieldwork primarily in East Africa and Southeast Asia. She holds a BA of International Politics from the University of Central Oklahoma/University of Leicester and an MSW in International Social Development from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
Check out Jessica Hansen's TEDx Talk: The Power of 'We' and how Technology Connects Us for Good