What originally sparked the idea of The Expedition Project?
Roger: When I finished high school back in the 90’s I decided to set of on an expedition of the world. This became my ‘University of Life’. 8 years and 27 countries later I return home to assist a friend in setting up her dream of a volunteer organization based in Knysna, South Africa. We worked solidly and within 3 years we had won a South African Tourism award for our initiative and achievements. I resigned my responsibilities with the successful ‘voluntourism’ in 2011 and once again ventured off in search of a dream.
After a couple of weeks of sketches, brain-storming and visions, I decided I wanted to once again explore, however this time I wanted to start with my own country of South Africa. The idea sparked one day while staring at the beauty of the South African Western Cape mountains – I decided that I wanted to head off on a documentary/reality trip in a 4x4 for 365 days leaving and returning to Cape Town. As I thought more about the idea, I decided to develop specific goals and tasks to do on the trip. The concept then turned into a 200 town, 365 day trip starting in January 2012. Several tasks would need to be completed in each of the 200 towns and with that a compilation of information would be gathered to create a documentary and eventually a television series for South African TV by 2013.
The foundation is environmental, the medium is ‘rough around the edges’ filming and photography and the result is the first of many annual expeditions around South Africa, and then around more countries as the template is designed and refined.
From there I decided that I would love to have team-members joining me for periods of the journey each year. This would be in the form of local researchers and international students.
Next?... Year 1 – 1 Team – 1 Route – 200 Towns – 365 Days – South Africa – 2012 – The beginning!
From South Africa to the world, back to South Africa and now global once again, my experience in beneficial tourism projects and passion for my country and my planet has led me down a new and exciting path. Will you join me?
How do you ensure your program is sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?
Roger: Initiate – Implement – Expand. That is our 3 year plan 2012-2014.
- 2012 will be an observation exercise in order to access, identify and document the social and environmental situation of South Africa.
- 2013 will see the start of the implementation of new projects as well as support to current initiatives.
- Collaboration and partnership with government, municipalities, NGO’s, NPO’s, charities, corporate entities, local and international team members will be essential in the sustainability of our aims.
- 2014 will see the development of our expedition templates in order to expand to new areas of not only South Africa, but Africa and the World.
Each year we will be producing a compilation of footage in order to broadcast locally and internationally. The footage will be in the form of documentaries, 13 part television series’, as well as photo journals and other expedition merchandise.
Local communities will get increased focus and support via our expeditions, voice, and eyes, and will hence have a platform to express their ideas and passions.
Finally, the support of international team-members or volunteers will be instrumental in providing man-power, development, international press, and various skills and experiences as needed.
What makes this program different than other gap-year and volunteer projects?
Roger: There are loads of gap-year options and volunteer programs out there right now. From my experience in the development and management of previous volunteer projects and community based initiatives from 2008 to 2011 in South Africa - The Expedition Project definitely isn’t like anything the country has seen.
The EXPEDITION Project looks to combine five elements to benefit its international team-members: Travel, Reality, Culture, Collaboration and Variety.
- Travel – Combining travel with volunteering means that as an expedition team-member you will be experiencing, seeing and meeting more people. Although keeping on the move has its disadvantages for the sustainability of community projects, our focus will be on revisiting villages, communities, towns and projects annually. Representatives will be based in each location to oversea certain initiatives.
- Reality – The EXPEDITION Project is all about the raw facts and cold reality. Nothing can be hidden from what we see, hear and do. We are not looking to sugar-coat anything, nor will we be painting the towns red with false hope and impressions. The EXPEDITION Project is all about learning the facts and dealing with them. Every community member and every team-member, volunteer and online observer will be a part of us – your contribution matters!
- Culture – World culture is rich and diverse. We aim to combine cultures for learning, educating, experiencing and developing.
- Variety – Variety is the spice of life and none truer than on how much each expedition experiences, be it for one week or one year. We are guaranteed on being tested, amazed, overwhelmed and ‘wow’d every day! The more we see, the more we learn and the more we learn the more we can do!
- Collaboration – This is probably the single most important part of every expedition. We rely on the team-work and collaboration of not just our expedition teams but the communities, businesses, government and international supporters. We are not after doing things better or creating competition, we are after collaboration – this is the key!
What do you feel is the best way to connect with local communities while volunteering abroad?
Roger: Learn and educate – the balance of these two aspects are vitally important. Have a willingness to learn and try new things as well as teach and demonstrate what you know. A respect and interest in where you are will be the first step in gaining acceptance from a new culture or community.
What do you hope people take away from this volunteer project?
Roger: We want you to have a lifetime of support and interest in The EXPEDITION Project. Once you join our team, you never leave – we want you a part of things every step of the way, no matter where you are and how much you can participate in the years to follow your first experience with us.
Famous last words?
Roger: Do what you love and love what you do – for that way you will always be in love with life! The EXPEDITION Project is my passion, soon it will be yours too!