Virtuoso Life - March/April 2018 - 82
of ME to WE staff and community members. We served the actual needs of local
people and felt a great sense of accomplishment in completing these daily tasks.
MATTHEW: We met with a farmer who
shared how he lost his daughter to disease
from contaminated drinking water. He has
become an advocate for establishing safe
drinking water, and he spoke to us about
the important resources ME to WE provides
to communities in the area. It's incredibly
inspiring to connect in such an authentic
way with local villagers.
Your sons were born into Virtuoso-style
travel. What did they think about a
JESSICA: They loved it! Like most children,
our boys are very hands-on, so the more they
can do, the more fun they have - including
the volunteer work, as well as other activities. One afternoon, after we finished shoveling concrete, Clay and Benji brought out a
ball they like to travel with. Within minutes,
they had a pickup soccer game going with
the local kids and the staff. One of the great
things about ME to WE is that there are a
lot of ways to have cross-cultural interactions, combined with fun and learning.
What were some nonwork highlights?
MATTHEW: One night they brought in chefs
from Quito, who sourced local ingredients
and prepared one of the best gourmet meals
I've ever had. Other times, we made s'mores
around a campfire, visited a cacao farm to
learn how to make chocolate, took a night hike
in the jungle to see nocturnal wildlife, and
even participated in a cultural ceremony led
by a local curandero [traditional healer].
1. Clay and Matthew with a local project organizer. 2. A blue morpho butterfly welcome
to Minga Lodge. 3. All in for soccer and American football. 4. Mixing concrete for a
community kitchen. 5. Benji learns about cacao.
ME to WE designs nine-day service-based vacations for ages 8 to 80 in Ecuador,
Kenya, and India, as well as four-day pre- or post-trip extensions in partnership with
other tour companies. Volunteer activities can range from helping to build a school or a
health center to digging wells, plowing fields, and planting crops. Ecuador departures:
Saturdays through 2018; from $3,895 per adult and $3,695 per child ages 16 and younger.
V I RT U O S O L I F E
You spent the past year traveling the world
to learn more about sustainable tourism.
What spurred this interest?
JESSICA: We've always believed in the
power of travel to make the world a better
place, and we wanted to share this with our
boys through real-life examples, so they can
find their own passion for helping others
and protecting the environment.
We knew that firsthand learning would teach our family new things - and