World Wise Adventures (WWA) is the newest project of Maiden Voyage Productions, a California nonprofit corporation. WWA inspires young people to become compassionate, informed and engaged citizens of the world through making films, doing service work and sharing interactions with diverse local and global communities. The skills and experiences I have acquired over the past four decades have led me on a long and rich path to this undertaking. Since starting a small school in Oakland in 1974, I have written textbooks and educational guides, produced award-winning documentary films about indigenous cultures, and traveled extensively in Europe, the Pacific Islands and the United States, as well as in China and Israel. Three recent experiences have helped me to crystallize the World Wise Adventures vision — and to recognize the profound value it can have for high school students, as well as for nonprofits and the communities they support.
In Summer 2012 I led a group of students from our Waldorf high school on a trip to France. After cycling for several days along the canals of Burgundy, we spent a week in Paris, where we enjoyed a number of museums, a French Revolution walking tour, a fabulous, magical evening at Versailles and a visit to Monet’s gardens at Giverny. I was impressed with the kids’ energy, curiosity and willingness to explore. While I plan to return to Europe for similar adventures, the trip inspired me to create new opportunities, where teens stretch outside their cultural comfort zone, learn new skills and spend time making a meaningful contribution to a community in need.
In January 2013 and 2014, I hosted Waldorf high school students at my home during Experiential Interdisciplinary Week. Over the course of four days, my colleagues and I guided the students as they wrote, shot, edited and completed a short film. Suffice it to say, a grand time was had by all participants, the films turned out great, and we are planning to do it again in January 2015!
In May 2013 I worked with See3 Communications, YouTube and Edelman to write Into Focus, a benchmark report and guide for nonprofits on the effective use of video. Through my research and interviews with representatives from a broad range of large and small organizations, I discovered that most nonprofits recognize the growing importance of video for raising funds, increasing awareness of their work and expanding their membership. I also learned that many of the same nonprofits do not have the skills, tools, staff resources or funds needed to produce these much-needed videos. That helped me put the final piece of the puzzle into place – the piece that involves providing nonprofits with a professional video that they can use for their own promotional or fundraising purposes.
These programs have the capacity to create rich, integrated and profound experiences that benefit four groups: 1) high school students, who travel to a new place, engage in a service project, and make a film about their experience, 2) nonprofit organizations, 3) the host communities that are supported by the nonprofits, and 4) children, who learn about diverse people and places through shared stories, films and educational media.