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Actuality Abroad

WHY DO WE EXIST?

TO INCITE REVOLUTION WIThIN EDUCATION ABROAD

Actuality Abroad creates educational travel experiences by collaborating with the communities we visit. We design collective learning programs for independent travelers, families and groups to engage in uncommon and ongoing education abroad.

Meaningful travel isn’t just about a thoughtfully planned itinerary.

The real learning comes from opened minds, shifts in perspective, grappling with inequity and understanding our place in it. Our learning communities enable travelers to gain understanding through experience. Those who travel with us seek both personal and professional growth and are willing to risk a little discomfort along the way.

On every trip we learn from local changemakers. We seek out the brilliant, the daring, the experts and the leaders that are investing positive energy in their own communities all over the world. Listening to their stories, studying their work and practicing by their side, we too become inspired to do better.

MANTRA

Lead educational travel experiences inspired by changemakers.

PURPOSE

Widen the circle of conscious travelers who never stop learning.

DO YOU FIT?

OUR TRAVEL CULTURE

  • The purpose of travel is to learn.
  • There are changemakers everywhere.
  • We trust locals to be our leaders, teachers and guides.
  • Hostels, homestays, and guesthouses are where we sleep.
  • Tuk-tuks, chivas, and lanchas are how we get around.
  • Street food is our favorite, unless we can snag a home-cooked meal.
  • As guests in someone’s home(land), we behave appropriately.
  • Travel is not a neutral act; we want our influence to be a net positive.
  • Before we decide where to, we need to ask ourselves why.
  • The unexamined trip is not worth taking.
"Those who travel with us seek both personal and professional growth and are willing to risk a little discomfort along the way."

THE BEGINNING

Our origin story

Actuality Abroad was founded in 2010 as Actuality Media LLC by (life and business partners) Aubrie Canfield and Robin Canfield. We have been operating education abroad programs for ten years, with a focus on teaching nonfiction storytelling and documentary production on each of the programs. 

In 2009, Aubrie returned to the US after traveling in several countries in Asia and teaching English for several months in Thailand. She knew that didn’t want to return to the film production career she left and wanted to lead some kind of venture that would enable continued traveling. A mentor introduced her to the world of social entrepreneurship and the idea that enterprise solve some of our toughest social or environmental problems. The deeper Aubrie researched the power of social entrepreneurship, the more enamored she became with it’s potential. She wanted everyone to know the stories and potential of these ‘changemakers.’

Drawing on her experiences from University, film production and world travel, an idea emerged to facilitate collaborations with emerging filmmakers and existing changemakers in order to tell their stories.  Very quickly, she developed the concept of a Documentary Outreach program; a month-long intensive workshop where University students and recent graduates would learn to produce short documentary films that featured the work of changemakers around the world. 

The Documentary Outreach study abroad program has been the primary focus of Actuality Media for the past ten years. The initial purpose was to tell stories about changemakers, but through an agile-like iterative process that was continually applied to our work, the true value of the programs was revealed.

The documentary production process happens to be an immersive experience, when done ethically and equitably. The work requires intense listening and reflecting, understanding details and the big picture, noticing patterns and creating connections. Going through this process was life changing for the students that traveled with us. The documentary was just the exercise, the learning came from the process. Travel becomes transformative when your every-day distractions fall away and you can be actually present. Only then can you connect, process, reflect and evolve.

Play Video

Aubrie talking about Actuality Abroad’s origin story at TEDx Orlando

In all our programs, we centered the local changemakers. As we evolved as an organization, we prioritized only partnering with organizations founded and/or led by locals. When we changed the narrative, and enabled our students to establish relationships with local leaders, we knew we had stumbled onto a powerful dynamic. With Actuality Media, privileged (mostly white) students were traveling abroad in order to learn from Cambodians, Kenyas, Guatemalas, Indians. Travel can be a radical act when we use it to directly challenge global power dynamics. We wanted to do more of it.

2020 has been a tumultuous year. For a travel organization, in some ways it has been devastating. Certainly, all our programs have been this year were postponed or cancelled and that is deeply disappointing for us, the travelers and the changemakers we partner with. Yet, this global pause has allowed the opportunity for a reset. We finally have the time and focus to develop our dreams and plan for the next phase of our work in education abroad.

Actuality Media is now Actuality Abroad. With the name change, also comes an expanded mission and a reorganization into a partner-owned collective. We now create all kinds of educational travel experiences where people of all ages can learn from changemakers. Our goal is to widen the circle of conscious travelers who never stop learning.