Sunday, 28 February 2010 18:29

She Turns Vacations Into Voluntours


SMU Alumni Magazine

They help Buddhist monks teach poor children in Thailand, make
wheelchairs for victims of Vietnam-era landmines in Laos, and build
stoves to save families from respiratory illness in Peru.

And during their trips abroad, Globe Aware volunteers also find time to
be tourists.
Kimberly Haley-Coleman (M.A., art history, ¹97) founded in 2000 the
Dallas-based nonprofit Globe Aware, which also sponsors weeklong
volunteer vacations in Costa Rica, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil, Vietnam, and
Cambodia. As its executive director, she runs the nonpolitical,
nonreligious organization with two principles in mind.

³We promote cultural awareness, which means we work to appreciate both
the real beauty and challenges of a culture,² she says. ³And we promote
sustainability, which means we train people using local resources; we
don¹t create dependence.²

Globe Aware grew out of Haley-Coleman¹s experiences as an international
businesswoman and volunteer. The Dallas native, who also earned an
M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Dallas and a B.A. from Emory
University, has worked for companies including Infotriever in Canada,
CNBC.com, and the Capstone Japan Fund, where she often has focused on
strategic partnerships and development. During business trips and
between job changes she squeezed in international volunteering with
organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Volunteers for Peace,
which usually require commitments of at least several weeks.

³I always came back thinking there had to be a better way for busy
Americans, who have almost the least vacation time among developed
nations but are the world¹s most generous volunteers and donors,²
Haley-Coleman says. Through her travels, she built a network of
like-minded volunteers­ many of who now serve on Globe Aware¹s board
­and together they launched their first weeklong program in Thailand.

Today Haley-Coleman, who devoted herself to the organization full time
in 2003, spends time in Dallas communicating with coordinators in the
field and re-evaluating and developing programs, such as this year¹s new
trips to Romania, China, and Africa. She seeks out communities that are
safe and culturally interesting, and with needs they want groups of
volunteers to address.

Community service was a significant part of her life, says
Haley-Coleman, as was SMU. Her parents, aunts and uncles, cousins,
grandparents, and great-grandparents are all alumni of the University,
where she recalls hours spent analyzing art with University
Distinguished Professor Emerita Alessandra Comini and Associate
Professor Randall Griffin. ³They helped reinforce my passion for truly
examining and appreciating cultures.²

Learn more at globeaware.org.

­ Sarah Hanan

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