Go Overseas had the chance to talk with Joanie Wynn, the co-founder of Journeys for Good, a great organization that promotes volunteering abroad by connecting volunteers with resources and inspirational stories. Journeys for Good posts original content through social media on its blog site, You Tube Channel, and Facebook page. They also have a series for public television currently in development.
Joanie founded Journeys for Good at the beginning of 2012 with her husband, Steve Wynn. In addition to Journeys for Good, the Wynns own an Emmy-winning production company, Bayside Entertainment.
GO: First, tell us about Journeys for Good.
Joanie: With its original content for television and the web, Journeys for Good celebrates global voluntourism and the everyday heroes who offer their sweat equity as a way to contribute and connect to the world in a meaningful way. Working with people or animals, short-term or long, student or senior, solo or family, the ways to volunteer travel are as varied as individual interest. Our inspirational stories engage viewers emotionally, motivating them to embark on their own voluntour adventures where world exploration leads to self evolution.
We are committed to growing a community of like-minded global citizens who come to the site to view our inspirational original content. We have original posts on a huge variety of voluntour offerings, so you can explore the site, watch some of the videos and see what excites you most. The site also features articles of interest to voluntour operators with tips for promoting and marketing their trips.
Steve and Joanie Wynn, Journeys for Good co-founders
GO: How did you get involved in the voluntourism industry?
Joanie: Back in 2009, we traveled to Tanzania to cover a volunteer vacation experience. We came home motivated and inspired, knowing that these were the kinds of stories we wanted to tell. We decided to develop Journeys for Good as a way to spread the message of volunteer travel.
GO: Tell us about your pilot program, "A Journey for Good: Tanzania", which has received multiple Emmy nominations.
Joanie: "A Journey for Good: Tanzania" aired on public television stations around the United States in 2011 and garnered four regional Emmy nominations. The success of this single program has encouraged us to pursue development of a television series dedicated to volunteer travel experiences around the world.
GO: How does video add to the voluntourism experience?
Joanie: As a video production company, we are, of course, quite biased on this subject. We believe that video can really take a prospective voluntourist can inside the volunteer trip. It brings a location and its people to life with compelling images and sound. It can bring you closer to the participants, allowing you to hear their reasons for traveling, how they feel along the way, and in the end, how it has affected and transformed them. You can meet the local people who are benefiting from the trip. You can see the progress as the volunteer projects unfold. Most of all, you can get a feeling of what it might be like to go on that trip yourself. It's really no different than the video storytelling assignments we produce for our Fortune-500 clients, but it is amazingly rewarding for us.
Steve videotaping a school performance in Tanzania
GO: What are some challenges you've faced while videotaping a volunteer trip?
Joanie: We need to be very strategic with the equipment we travel with, making everything count so that we can be as lean as possible (which saves on costs). In Tanzania, part of the experience was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, where we confronted high altitude, extreme cold, no power, etc. This coupled with the fact that we had to hike with everything we needed while out camping for 7 days. This isn't necessarily new for us. We've traveled all over the world with our work, so we're used to coping with these kinds of challenges. Steve, in particular, has shot extensively for Travel Channel & Discovery, so he's a seasoned pro.
GO: What are your upcoming video plans? When and where can we see more?
Joanie: On our You Tube channel, we have an ongoing series of short web clips from different trips. There's a whole series on a volunteer project at a school for AIDs orphans and another series on construction of a playground in Nicaragua. We've also just launched a new "voices of voluntourism" series that we hope to add to as we continue to cover more trips.
Steve and Joanie had a life-changing experience in Tanzania
GO: Any upcoming travel plans?
Joanie: We are hoping to find a great trip to cover this summer, but don't have specific details yet. This time, we want to feature a family-friendly trip and take our 9 year old son, Ryan. I'll definitely keep you posted.
GO: Your "About" page says, "Inspiration. Information. Celebration." What inspires you?
Joanie: I have always loved traveling. I was very fortunate as a girl to have the opportunity to travel with my family. As my career in production took off, I also had many opportunities to travel professionally I love the outdoors and nature. I love meeting new people from different cultures. Volunteer travel combines all these things for me. And to have the opportunity to be a storyteller in this realm is a dream come true.
Go Overseas is proud to partner with Journeys for Good! Video is a great storytelling tool that allows you to get closer to another culture. The Journeys for Good blog also features great content, in line with the volunteering abroad resources we provide here at Go Overseas. Stay tuned for a new article from Journeys for Good on Go Overseas each month.
Learn More and Connect