“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more”.
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
A few years ago, I began highlighting different organizations that offer wonderful gifts that also give back to a cause. Given how popular the posts have been, I created a permanent Gifts that Give Back page on my blog and last holiday season that page alone received 40,000 views in the months of November and December! I am thrilled to know that these amazing organizations and causes are getting more customers from my blog.
Here are some of my favorite Gifts that Give Back for the holiday season. I hope you enjoy the list, and please share this holiday guide with friends and family. Make your gift giving season count this year by making a difference in someone else’s life and also giving an incredible gift that will make them smile.
Author’s Note: The products below are just a few of the many these amazing organizations have to offer. Please visit each website to get a full view of all the gifts that give back each organization has to offer. Enjoy!
2017 Gifts that Give Back Guide
ALEX AND ANI
As the heart and soul of ALEX AND ANI, CEO, Founder and Creative Director, Carolyn Rafaelian, created Charity by Design, which serves as a unique division focused solely on giving and making the dreams of charitable organizations come true. Charity by Design empowers non-profit organizations both on a national and local scale to reach their goals by sharing their mission through the power of positive energy and creative design.
Here are three featured Charity by Design bangles below: The Pinecone benefiting Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl initiative, True Wish benefiting the Make A Wish Foundation, and Heart of Strength benefiting the Global Fund to help them fight AIDS with PRODUCT(RED). ALEX AND ANI will donate 20% of the purchase price* from each bangle sold, with a minimum donation of $25,000 between October 2017 and December 2018 to the charities. www.alexandani.com/charity-by-design/.
Designing Change Stitch by Stitch” Anchal creates absolutely stunning scarves, pillows and quilts each handmade out of recycled saris by Indian women rescued from prostitution. www.anchalproject.org
Neutral Patchwork Straight Scarf – The eco-friendly straight scarf features color blocking in tan and gray hues. Handmade from soft organic cotton by artisans in India, this lightweight oversized scarf is a versatile and stylish accessory
Organic Cotton Grid Stitch Poncho – Handmade from layers of lightweight organic cotton, this soft and cozy shawl is perfect for cold weather. Designed to be reversible, featuring camel on one side and charcoal black on the other.
Organic Cotton Grid Throw in Scarlet -Add a sophisticated statement to your home with the grid stitch quilt. This soft cotton throw is lightweight and breathable with a buttery soft hand feel. Use the scarlet red side for a pop of color, or reverse to bone white and easily change to a more subtle look.
b.a.r.e. soaps is an all natural, socially conscious soap and candle company. b.a.r.e stands for “bringing antiseptic resources to everyone”. 20% of proceeds are reinvested into economic development in India and Uganda. 100% all natural handmade products using sustainably sourced ingredients. www.bare-soaps.com
The delightful Kindness Box of soaps
Essential Duo – two soaps
Pick four bath bombs
Bloom & Give
Bloom & Give sells beautifully handcrafted scarves and bags made in India using techniques passed on from generation to generation. Each product is designed in the US by one of Bloom & Give’s designers, and made in India with love. Bloom & Give donates 50% of their profits to support girls education programs in India through their partner Educate Girls to improve the lives of girls in Rajasthan. www.bloomandgive.com.
A Special Discount of 20% has been offered to my readers. Please use the code: THIRDEYEMOM at checkout.
Bella Woolen Scarf – hand-loomed with fine marina and silk
Nola Woolen Scarf in Crimson – hand-loomed with fine marina and silk
Cloud Woolen Throw – Wine: Made of super light felted merino wool with a vibrant ombre dip. It can be used as a bed blanket, a throw, or a picnic blanket.
Indigo Pillows – Made with “Khadi” – a form of heirloom cotton that is hand-spun on a traditional spinning wheel, and then hand-woven in a loom, producing rich texture and a breathable fabric with a near-zero ecological footprint.
Boutique Mexico is on a mission to give back to the community by partnering with native artisans in Guerrero, Hidalgo, Puebla, Chiapas, and Oaxaca to help them earn a living and preserve the ancient crafts of weaving and embroidery that have been the creative expression of their communities for generations. Boutique Mexico takes pride in providing one-of-a-kind pieces designed by talented Mexican artisans. Each piece is a modern twist on an ancient crafting technique to create eye-catching, colorful bags that complement any outfit. www.boutiquemexico.com
Camila Otomi Clutch
Mini Camila Otomi Wristlet:
Otomi Christmas Stockings
Conscious Step is working to end poverty, one step at a time. Each pair of socks is matched with a leading non-profit and provides quantifiable impact through one of their ten partners. For example, in partnership with Matt Damon’s Water.org, each pair of Water Socks provides 18 months of safe drinking water for someone in need. Conscious Step socks are non-toxic, made with organic cotton and are vegan and Fairtrade certified, so they’re as soft on your skin as they are on the environment. www.consciousstep.com
Global Wonders is a part of SA Foundation (SAF) Canada, whose goal is to stop the sexual exploitation & trafficking of young women through implementing their unique recovery model. All Global Wonders Products are handmade in Nepal by women who’ve been rescued from Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. Each purchase helps to support another woman’s journey to freedom from a life of slavery. Ships products worldwide. www.beaglobalwonder.com.
Global Wonders scarf
Global Wonders Women’s lounge pants
Global Wonders tote bag
Beautiful products hand-made by a cooperative of women in a rural village, this brand provides access to jobs at fair trade wages, education, health care, and avenues for building sustainable community. The second largest employer in a region of Haiti where over 100,000 people live with no electricity or public Haiti Projects makes a tangible impact on raising the quality of life for those who need it most. www.haitiproducts.org
Embroidered Nightgowns: Whether you want a Garland, Tulip, or Butterfly stitch, each beautiful nightgown is designed for comfort with ample arm opening and a generous skirt falling to the knee. It washes, wears beautifully.
Embroidering the nightgowns
Her Future Coalition (formerly MadeBySurvivors)
Her Future Coalition (formerly MadeBySurvivors) is an international nonprofit organization which employs and educates survivors of slavery and other human rights abuses, including many women and children living in extreme poverty. Products include jewelry, bags, gifts and cards and prices range. 100% of profits go back to the survivors who made them. www.herfuturecoalition.org
Liquid Gold Earrings
Invisible World Ring
Coral Reef Earrings
Humanity Unified International is a nonprofit organization that empowers communities to rise above poverty through education, economic opportunities and food security programs. They start by investing in women.
The Humanity Unified Mala Collection is made by women in India who have no other employable skills. Your purchase provides them with a fair paying job. 100% of profits supports an educational entrepreneurship program to empower vulnerable women in Rwanda with the skills necessary to launch small businesses. Each mala represents a prayer for women in Rwanda and for anyone who seeks the power to love, heal, manifest their dreams and to live in serenity, unity and compassion. View the collection: https://humanityunified.org/collections/jewelry
IZZAROO encourages and inspires families to play, create and explore more together. They offer a collection of handmade t-shirts for kids and adults. Founded on the mission to “Be The Good”, they donate 10% to organizations that help underprivileged youth do the same – play, create and explore. These organizations build playgrounds in areas of poverty, provide art education and outdoor experiences to inner city youth. www.izzaroo.com
Kahiniwalla means the teller of stories in Bangla, the national language of Bangladesh, where these beautiful handmade toys, clothing and rattles are lovingly crafted. Each special piece makes a thoughtful, heartfelt gift for the children and grandchildren in your life. But perhaps one of the most powerful stories Kahiniwalla products tell is of one of hope. Every purchase helps women in rural Bangladesh provide better lives for their own children by earning a fair wage. www.kahiniwalla.com
Kahiniwalla Christmas Ornament
Kurandza is a social enterprise non-profit that uses entrepreneurship and education to empower women and girls in Mozambique. One of Kurandza’s projects is a sewing cooperative that helps women, the majority of whom are HIV positive, to create and sell handcrafted jewelry, bags, and cards using traditional African textiles. The women receive fair wages for their work, and profits go back to the community fo fund social programs. The name “Kurandza” is the word “to love” in Changana, the local language of the women Kurandza’s works with in Mozambique. www.kurandza.org
National Geographic has a wonderful collection of gifts for curious kids, trips around the world for ambitious travelers, gear and inspirational gifts for budding photographers, and even personalized gifts.
Each gift aligns with National Geographic’s mission to further our knowledge and understanding of our world and helps support the non-profit National Geographic Society to fund future science and exploration. 27 percent of all proceeds from our store go back to the non-profit National Geographic Society, which funds scientific grants, research and exploration. To view the entire collection of holiday gifts offered, click here.
National Geographic Africa Midi Satchel
Everything Rocks and Minerals
National Geographic 8 x 21 Mini-binoculars
The Obakki Foundation is a small Vancouver-based foundation, created and run by local fashion designer (Obakki), mother and wife, Treana Peake. Obakki contributes 100 per cent of all public donations to their humanitarian projects. The foundation has drilled or rehabilitated more than 850 wells in the war-torn country of South Sudan, bringing clean water to an estimated more than one million people. And they have just promised six remote villages in the country that the foundation will help them to build a better future by providing each village with a much-needed fresh water well. All that Obakki Foundation needs to do this is to sell 500 of each of the new, stylish colours of scarves – as a part of their Scarves for Water program. www.obakki.com
Preemptive Love Coalition
Preemptive Love Coalition brings emergency relief and medical care to families on the front lines of the world’s most polarizing conflicts—in places like Syria and Iraq. But Preemptive Love doesn’t leave once the fighting is done. Instead they stay and empower refugees to reclaim their future from the ashes of war. The wash cloths are handmade by Syrian refugee and the candles are made by women impacted by the war in Iraq. The Soap set is made by different refugee groups. www.preemptivelove.org
Sisterhood Garden Candle Set
Sisterhood Soap Fig and Date Gift Set
Sisterhood Wash cloth Set
PURPOSE provides freedom from slavery for young women around the world. Each piece of jewelry is handcrafted by artisans escaping human trafficking. Every purchase changes a life! PURPOSE is the brand under International Sanctuary, which is a nonprofit whose mission is to empower people escaping trafficking to embrace their true identity and worth.
PURPOSE Jewelry has worked with hundreds of young women around the world for the past 10 years. The art of jewelry making paired with holistic care ensures every artisan receives freedom and hope for the future. Holistic care is provided through our non-profit, International Sanctuary, and includes education, health care, and counseling. Their program provides every artisan with the life skills and opportunities to succeed. www.purposejewelry.org
Revel earrings (silver)
Chevron necklace (brass)
Geo Studs (rhodium)
SOS Children’s Villages
SOS Children’s Villages (www.sos-usa.org) is an international organization that builds loving, stable families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children across 135 countries, including the US. Through their family support and care programs, medical centers, schools and emergency relief efforts, they impact the lives of millions of children and families worldwide making sure that every child has the support and care he or she needs to grow, thrive, and lead a fulfilling life. SOS Children’s Villages is proud to partner with ALEX AND ANI. The specially designed “Imagine” Sandcastle Charm Bangle represents the strength and love that helps us build strong families for vulnerable children. From May 2017 to December 2017, SOS Children’s Villages will receive a 20% donation of the purchase price to support its mission in building families for children in need in 134 countries, including Syria, Ethiopia and South Sudan. The bangle can be purchased at ALEX AND ANI retail locations, online, and through authorized retailers.
Sudara is a benefit corporation that exists to advocate on behalf of and empower women who have escaped from, or at the highest risk of, human trafficking by providing dignified employment opportunities to women in India. Sudara is a mission-driven lifestyle brand whose success is not just measured or defined in sales and revenue, but in our positive social impact and creating long-term, sustainable change. Check out their beautiful pajamas handmade by the women survivors of sex trafficking. www.sudara.org
For the holidays, Sudara is offering discounted robe and short sets and holiday pajama sets with an average of 20% savings on original pricing as well as limited edition holiday colors.
Sunshine Nut Co.
Sunshine Nut Co. is a cashew company harnessing the food industry to create lasting economic transformation in Mozambique. We grow, roast and package cashews in-country, where we are able to go from tree to package in just three weeks. We directly employ over 30 people at our factory, and then we take 90% of our profits and reinvest them into philanthropic efforts: 30% to orphan care, 30% to farming communities, and 30% to replicate the business model elsewhere. Now in over 2,000 stores across the US, we hope that when you purchase our cashews, you taste the difference in the freshness and quality, and find hope in knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of the poor and orphaned in Mozambique. www.sunshinenuts.com
Thistle Farms is a social enterprise of women survivors of prostitution and drug addiction that would provide an opportunity for a sustainable income and life for the women. Based in Tennessee, Thistle Farms houses a natural bath and body care company, Thistle Stop Café, a paper and seeing studio and a global marketplace called Shared Trade. Today, Thistle Farms employees more than 50 survivors and benefits over 700 women a year. Proceeds support Thistle Farms and the residential program, Magdalene. The community provides housing, food, healthcare, therapy and education for two years, without charging residents or receiving taxpayer money. www.thistlefarms.org
Threads of Opportunity
Threads of Opportunity is a social enterprise partnering with refugee tailors who have fled their homes all over East Africa: South Sudan, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, and Uganda, to expand their product market. While these tailors provide local services, most of their clients are other refugees, most of whom are entirely dependent on UN and NGO handouts. Contrary to this traditional humanitarian model, at Threads of Opportunity, we believe that all people should have agency, the ability to control and make decisions in their own lives. We also believe in altruism, that people want to make a difference in the lives of others, but often-times just don’t know how. Our mission is to connect refugee tailors with markets in the developed world, to expand the opportunities for refugees to support their families by earning their own income and to provide a meaningful way for individuals to make a difference. www.threadsofopportunity.com
Too Young to Wed
Too Young to Wed, a non-profit organization, that employs visual media, photography exhibits and campaigns to educate and engage the global community to demand an end to the practice of child marriage, has launched a print sale of beautiful, hand-printed 8.5×11 archival pigment prints by Kenyan child marriage survivors and Too Young to Wed Founder, acclaimed photographer Stephanie Sinclair.
Prints are $100 each – with 100% of proceeds going directly to support Too Young to Wed’s important work in communities affected by child marriage. Visit WWW.TOOYOUNGTOWED.ORG/PRINTSALE to take home a photograph and help put a stop to early, child and forced marriage around the world.
Anita, 15, as photographed by Monica, 12. Both girls were rescued by the Samburu Girls Foundations, supported by Too Young to Wed.
Sisters Yagana, 21, Yakaka 19 and Falimata, 14, were all abducted and held captive by Boko Haram until they escaped. The militant Islamist group, began itís insurgency against the Nigerian government in 2009. The terrorist group drew global outrage after abducting more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok. Many of the girls were forced into marriage and motherhood.
Anita, 15, enjoys the breeze at the Rift Valley viewpoint at Malasso, Kenya. Photo by Jane, 15.Named after an eight-year-old child bride in Yemen, Too Young to Wed’s Tehani Photo Workshop brought together 18 brave girls — including 6 student instructors from the previous year’s workshop — who escaped their marriages and were given the opportunity to pursue their education through the support of the Samburu Girls Foundation.
To the Market
TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods (TTM) combines the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations, in the belief that resilience is more powerful than suffering. TTM showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease. By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” we take an active role in equipping the survivor’s they employ with economic independence, while raising awareness of the challenges that they face. www.tothemarket.com
Three Drop Oval Horn Earrings – Light
Ethical Midi Crossbody Bag
Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs
A pair of Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs
Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs are reusable earplugs designed for live music. Unlike traditional foam earplugs that block and muffle sounds, Vibes lower the volume of your environment to a safer and more comfortable while still allowing you to hear everything around you clearly.
Vibes is partnered with Hear the World Foundation which provides hearing healthcare and hearing aids to children in need around the world, and 10% of our profits is donated to the Foundation to fund hearing health projects. www.discovervibes.com
Other notable gifts that give back:
These two coffee table books, Chicago Unleashed and Chicago Monumental by Larry Broutman. Chicago Unleashed and Chicago Monumental not only make a unique gift for book lovers, photography lovers, and travelers, but purchasing these books supports a worthy cause as all author proceeds from both books go to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Access Living Chicago. Chicago Monumental is an elegant, full-color, hardcover book of photography with images and information on over 250 public memorials, statues, and fountains located in the Windy City’s parks, streets, storefronts, bridges, and cemeteries. Chicago Monumental has recently picked up two book awards: a Midwest Book Award for best interior design and an IPPY (Independent Publisher) Award in the Great Lakes Nonfiction category. Both can be ordered at Amazon.com.
Chicago Monumental Book Cover
Chicago Unleashed Cover
Chicago Unleashed Swans near Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
1000 Shillings an international development organization that provides microgrants to impoverished women enabling them to start their own businesses and provide for their families. 1000 Shillings gives each woman a microgrant in exchange for a product they make that is sold on our website. Each woman then takes that grant and starts their own business that is sustainable in their home country (becoming a seamstress, selling casava root, etc) with the help of dedicated business mentors. The goal of 1000 Shillings is to give these ambitious women the opportunity they need to become self-sufficient and independent and support themselves and their families. www.10000shillings.com
1000 Shillings Scarf
1000 Shillings Apron
1000 Shillings earrings
Looking for more ideas? Please feel free to check out my permanent page of Gifts that Give Back here for even more amazing products. Also, if you like this gift guide please share via social media. Think of the collective difference we can all make!
“All Good Things are Wild and Free”. – Henry David Thoreau
There are some things in life that are truly miraculous. Before going to the Outer Banks, a 130-mile strip of barrier islands running off the coast of North Carolina, I had no idea that a herd of Wild Spanish Colonial Mustangs called the northernmost part of Currituck Outer Banks their home. The story of how they came to this unique part of the country and their survival for over 500 years is nothing short of a miracle. However, as I would soon learn the future survival of these amazing creatures is in peril.
We left our rented vacation home in Duck for the short drive north on Highway 12 to the neighboring town of Corolla where we would begin our tour with Wild Horse Adventure Tours. After signing in at the friendly front desk we met our guide, Tom Baker, a Virginia Beach native who has lived in the area for decades and goes by the suitable nickname “The Outlaw”. We boarded the open air, custom-designed 13-passenger Hummer H1 and followed Highway 12 to where the pavement ends at North Beach. The remainder of the drive would be on the beach.
I sat upfront next to “The Outlaw”, taking notes and asking him tons of questions about the history of the Corolla Wild Horses. Tom, a man in his sixties by my estimation, had grown up in Virginia Beach and spent his teenage years driving down the vast open, uninhabited stretches of shoreline to go surfing with his friends. He recalled with sadness the immense isolation and remoteness of what was once a landscape filled with sand dunes, trees and thousands of wild horses roaming free. However, over time as more and more people discovered the beauty and miles of endless beaches of the Outer Banks, the surge in commercial and residential development caused the decline of the wild horse population which was once estimated at over 7,000 back in the 1930s.
The most significant change happened in 1985. Before then, the 17-mile stretch of road between Duck and Corolla was unpaved, untouched and infrequently travelled. This allowed the area to be the perfect sanctuary for the wild horses as it was one of the most remote, isolated and undeveloped areas in the country. Once this road was paved everything changed. The area became open to mass development and tourism and the wild horses were in constant danger, being struck and killed by cars and roaming around strip mall parking lots. Something had to be done or else all the wild horses would disappear.
Thankfully, It was decided that the wild horses would be relocated further north where they would be safe. They were rounded up by cowboys and moved to the North Beach area where Highway 12 ends and only a 4 x 4 “road” runs along the beach. With the help of The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a South to Sea fence and sanctuary were established which includes roughly 7,544 acres of land heading 12 miles north to the Virginia border. The land is unique as it is one-third public and two-thirds private land, meaning the wild horses live alongside people. There is no other place where wild horses live in such close contact with humans but it is better than nothing. Tom said that this has helped the wild horses yet there are still many challenges ahead.
When we finally reached the end of Highway 12 and pulled into the entrance at North Beach, Tom beamed and said “Welcome to the door to my office“. I had never seen a highway on the beach before. It was quite bizarre. The speed limit is 15 mph and it is patrolled by a Sheriff who is ready to ticket any offenders. Tom said that there is one tow truck driver named Larry who has the rights to working the beach. At $200 a pop to tow out all the cars that get stuck in the ruts along the beach, he is apparently always in a good mood. I finally understood why we needed a hummer for the tour. We were going to be doing some serious off-roading and climbing sand dunes.
“It’s about time someone said it. Being born female in one of the world’s poorest countries means your life will be harder, simply because of your gender. Unlocking the full potential of girls and women wouldn’t just transform their own lives, or even their families’ – it could help end extreme poverty for good”. – ONE.org
Today, October 11, is the International Day of the Girl, a day declared by the United Nations in 2011 to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world. It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere. Fast forward to today and the International Day of the Girl has become a global movement of hope, inspiration and advocacy to better the lives of half our planet who is being left behind.
Globally, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world and of that number, 130 million girls are currently not in school right now. This is a huge problem which has significant repercussions not only for girls but for the economy and well-being of society as a whole. Education is one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against extreme poverty – so it’s unacceptable that so many girls are still denied the chance to learn.
ONE, a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than eight million people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, fully understands the power of girls and the way education can be used as a conduit to better not only their lives but society as a whole. ONE is a strong advocate for the rights of women and girls around the world and in honor of this year’s International Day of the Girl, one has released a new report titled “The Toughest Places for a Girl to Get an Education”.
The report identities the ten toughest places in the world for a girl to get an education and has some tragic facts:
- The top ten toughest countries are all fragile states and among the poorest in the world.
- Nine out of ten toughest countries are in Africa.
- Poverty is sexist. Within the toughest 10 countries, girls are 57% more likely than boys to be out of school at the primary level and 83% at the secondary level.
- In the 10 toughest countries, half of the girls are married before their 18th birthday.
- In South Sudan, 73% of girls don’t go to primary school.
Yet there is so much hope. Educating girls can change the world. The ripple effect of educating one girl in a community is astounding. The math is simple and easy. So why aren’t more girls in school?
Today I am in New York City attending the prestigious Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship — a sequel to the acclaimed White House event held in 2014. Co-hosted by Hostelling International USA (HI USA) and Partners of the Americas, this event touches on my personal passion for the transformative power of travel, and the belief that travel is and should be for everyone. The goal the conference is to inspire a new generation to study abroad and experience the transformational power of travel. I have been asked to share my own personal story and here it is. Feel free to follow the summit online and read other stories using the hashtag #studyabroadbecause.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin
The first time I ever left the country was at the tender age of six. I was tiny, timid and loved playing with my dolls. My family rented a station wagon and we drove south of the border of Texas, along the coast and then west into the mountainous, tropical mystery of Cuidad Valles, Mexico. On the drive, we passed people living in deplorable conditions; in homes of hand-made shacks and tarps alongside the road. I stared out the window at this strange landscape, wide-eyed with wonder.
When we arrived at our hotel, we were surrounded by the local children who came to meet the new guests. There I stood, painfully shy and in pig-tails while the children danced around me shouting, “Niña rubia, niña rubia… Quiero tocar tu cabello” (Blond girl, blond girl, I want to touch your hair). They were fascinated by my shiny white blond hair, blue eyes and nordic pale skin. They had never seen it before. This was the mid-70s a time when not many foreigners came to visit a small town in the middle of Mexico. I was equally spellbound by them. Their dark black hair, sparkling brown eyes and skin. The playful rapid-fire Spanish coming out of their mouths. It was a moment in time I will never forget, and began my life long love of travel and culture.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain
The first time I went overseas, I was 13 years old. Young, awkward, impressionable and ready to find my place in the world. I had the experience of years of family travel back home under my belt. Yet going to Europe for the first time was a new kind of adventure. It was 1984 and none of my friends had ever been to Europe. It felt exotic. I was filled with a rush of anticipation of what I would discover.
The moment I road up the escalator from the Paris metro and stepped out onto the streets to see the awe and wonder of Paris for the very first time, I was mesmerized. Paris blew me away. I made my decision right then and there, looking down the magnificent Champs-Élysées, that I would someday live in Paris and spend a semester studying abroad there. I returned home, enrolled in my first french class and continued to study french in college to prepare me for the day I’d live in France. My junior year of college, I applied to a study abroad program in Paris at the Sorbonne and was accepted. My dream had come true.
Me standing at the Cite Universitaire in Paris circa 1993