As a conscientious traveler, Joyce Major shares a riveting first hand account of how voluntourism transformed her life and offers insights on how this 'responsible travel' movement can transform yours. --Brian Mullis,Sustainable Travel International<br /><br />As a conscientious traveler, Joyce Major shares a riveting first hand account of how voluntourism transformed her life and offers insights on how this 'responsible travel' movement can transform yours. --Brian Mullis,Sustainable Travel International<br /><br />Joyce Major, the quintessential traveler, epitomizes responsible tourism at its very best. In Smiling at the World Major takes us into the hearts and minds of the world in which she has become so fully engaged. --Bob Fisher
Reading "Smiling at the World" is like taking a year-long journey around the globe and making a new best friend in the process. Major unfolds her extraordinary advenures with vivid descriptions of colors and smells. She does a wonderful job of creating a sense of time and place. The reader gets to rejoice with the author over achievements and feel the pangs of loneliness. As the story evolves so does its author and it is nice to her character change. Intentionally or not, Major also makes a good case for volun-tourism. The idea of giving back while traveling seems possible, practical and responsible when described and lived by the author. --Writers Digest
"Smiling at the World" has been named the Best Books Award Winner in travel by the USA Book News. --USA Book News
About the Author
Standing here at 58 years old, if I turn my head and look back, my memories are clear of the straight out of college Joyce teaching a class in mathematics extraordinaire with shoulder length straight hair, matching sweater and skirt, stacked heels and enthusiasm. Next stop motherhood and like so many of my friends I read every book about childbirth and childrearing crowning The Time Out as the queen of my mothering style. After a divorce with the usual fallout and an educational toy business, my career moved to a long successful stop as a real estate agent. And then with both sons graduated from college, my responsibilities seemed to have whittled down to just taking care of myself and the cat. A successful real estate business, an adorable houseboat with kayaking right out my door, friends to play squash with, ski with, rollerblade and laugh with in the beautiful city of Seattle. A great life, right? Yes and no. From the outside Joyce s life looked quite nice but if I lifted my head out of the fog, I saw a woman not fully present, not heart happy, and lacking passion. A question kept gnawing at me- Is this life, the one I am leading right now, the best way for me to live, to use my talents, to help the planet? Unable to either ignore the question or answer yes, I looked around for ways to shake up my life, bring change. The startling idea to travel solo as a volunteer around the world for a full year hit me like lightning one day while I was hiking up Rattlesnake Mountain. Reeling from what must have been either oxygen deprivation or divine inspiration, I knew the trip was the answer. Jumping out of my life, my shoes, my houseboat and my career, I decided to celebrate my life with the gift of freedom for a full year and perhaps, just maybe, do a bit of good along the way. Not wanting to walk around looking at old churches and ruins like a typical tourist, sleeping in plush, culture-avoiding hotels, I put together a chain of volunteer vacations staying a month on each project. I worked with rescued elephants in Thailand, tended lion cubs and worked as a baboon monitor in South Africa, helped with rescued kangaroos and joeys in Australia and rescued primate trade monkeys in England. I learned about wildlife rescue and spent time with passionate people who loved their work. I found my heart. I taught English in China, studied Portuguese in Brazil living with a family in Rio, worked as a newspaper reporter in Ireland, as a restoration worker in Italy, and at a sustainability sanctuary in New Zealand. A year packed full of change and new experiences from feeding baby bottles to lion cubs to interviewing TV stars in Ireland, to bathing elephants in a river to planting trees in New Zealand, living in a bamboo hut, an insect infested house, a monastery, and a tent but always learning about the environment and always giving back. In my year that I had organized myself, I traveled to all but one continent, took the Trans-Siberian Express, lived in different cultures and got exactly what I had bargained for, change! My spirit is refreshed, my creativity has returned and the just getting by layers that were clouding my vision have been blown away from a year spent volunteering around the world. However, returning to Seattle, my former life seemed alien to me, uncomfortable. With no passion for my real estate career, I turned to writing. Focusing all of my energy into writing a book, Smiling at the World, I want to encourage other people to travel and volunteer. I also write freelance articles about the environment and feel a deep responsibility to help protect the earth, her resources and all of her inhabitants. Traveling and seeing the beauty on this planet, I want to be a part of the solutions to protect the earth.