Friday, October 31, 2008

October 2008 Reality Tours Newsletter!

Reality Tours eNewsletter


Dear Friends,

Global Exchange Reality Tours have helped thousands connect firsthand with other peoples and cultures, and to return home with a deeper understanding, a sense of empowerment, and the tools to affect change. Given that October is Fair Trade month, we would like to inform you of some exciting upcoming Reality Tours based around Fair Trade, as well as some other important actions you can take today to promote economic and social justice. Here is what you can expect to find in this newsletter:

  1. A note on the importance of Fair Trade

  2. Exciting upcoming Reality Tours delegations based around the movement for Fair Trade:

  3. Local RT! Introducing a new Reality Tour day trip dealing with Fair Trade and labor issues in San Francisco

  4. An invitation to promote economically just holiday shopping at the Global Exchange Fair Trade store

  5. Act now! Quick and easy ways you can help to further the cause of Fair Trade from home!

  6. RT reflections: Renee Cooper speaks about her experience in Nicaragua

  7. Donate to the Reality Tours Scholarship Fund!




Why Fair Trade?

In today's global economy, where profits rule and small-scale producers are left out of the bargaining process, farmers, craft producers, and other workers are often left without resources or hope for their future. Fair Trade helps exploited producers escape from this cycle and gives them a way to maintain their traditional lifestyles with dignity.

The Fair Trade system benefits over 800,000 farmers organized into cooperatives and unions in 48 countries. Fair Trade has helped farmers provide for their families' basic needs and invest in community development; however, these farmers are still selling most of their crop outside of the Fair Trade system because not enough companies are buying at Fair Trade prices. Help increase the demand for Fair Trade among companies, retailers, and consumers! Your support of Fair Trade makes a real difference for small-scale producers!

In this newsletter you will find a variety of ways that you can make have an immediate effect on the battle to promote Fair Trade and support small-scale producers worldwide; whether you are ready for an international adventure engaging directly with Fair Trade farmers and cooperatives, to learn about groundbreaking campaigns promoting Fair Trade issues, or to choose to support Fair Trade through responsible holiday shopping!




 Upcoming Reality Tours Fair Trade Delegations

Nicaragua: Fair Harvest Exchange Program

December 13, 2008
- December 22, 2008

December 04, 2009 - December 13, 2009

Approximate Cost: $900

This December, spend your vacation harvesting social justice! Participate in a transformative international travel experience. Global Exchange is sponsoring several highly motivated individuals to travel to Nicaragua this harvest season and work with a Fair Trade coffee cooperative (CECOCAFEN). Fair Harvesters will live with a cooperative member family and work alongside the farmers to harvest coffee. You will learn by participating in the daily lives of small-scale farming families and begin to understand the meaning of Fair Trade producers. This is a unique opportunity to experience the other side of the struggle for social and economic justice. Fair Harvest is not intended to be a tour or tourist visit, but rather to be a lived experience that will motivate participants to be committed activists upon their return.

Qualifications: Participants must be capable, self-reliant individuals with at least basic Spanish language ability. You also must be dedicated to working on a Fair Trade campaign in your community when you return. This may include talking to the media, giving presentations, writing articles, asking your local stores to offer Fair Trade products, etc.

For more information, please contact Sneh.




Argentina: Building Economic Justice from Below

October 10, 2008
- October 24, 2008

August 04, 2009 - August 14, 2009

Approximate Cost: $2000

With abundant natural resources and a thriving middle class, Argentina was once considered the Europe of Latin America. In the late 1970s, however, a brutal military dictatorship wreaked havoc on the country, causing the death and disappearance of over 30,000 individuals. Democracy was finally attained in the 1980's but the country's economy was in ruins. In the 1990's, acting as the poster child for the neo-liberal economic policies of the IMF, the Argentine people were told that they would soon become part of the "first world". On Dec. 19 and 20, 2001, however, the bottom fell out. All the banks were locked denying people access to their own accounts, and the people watched as the Peso, along with their savings, was devalued to a third of its original worth. Citizens all around the country took to the streets banging their frying pans and chanting "que se vayan todos" or "throw them all out" for the removal of the corrupt government.

Argentines are leading a movement that has emerged as a response to failed economic policies led by international finance institutions such as the IMF and the have organized into neighborhood assemblies that attempt to take the place of the void left by the insecurity and failure of the state. As a result, over 65 factories have been taken over by their workers and transformed into cooperatives. Meanwhile, social movements have gained in efforts to hold politicians and military officers accountable for gross human rights violations during the period of the dictatorship, and a broad effort at recuperating the memory of the lives of the disappeared has brought new life to human rights cases. Visit Argentina, to better understand the collapse of the neo-liberal project, witness the possibilities that Argentine movements present in building a community-based economy, hear new voices for human rights from the South, and discover how new alliances are reshaping the political horizon of the Southern Cone.

For more information, please contact Leslie.




Israel/Palestine: Fair Olive Harvest

November 05, 2009
- November 16, 2009

Approximate Cost: $1700

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has ensued for sixty years, while Israel's forty year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is the longest in modern history. Travel to Palestine and Israel and learn how fair trade cooperatives are restoring hope, providing economic alternatives to a population under occupation. Harvest olives with fair trade farmers, use organic farming practices, witness the community building strengths of fair trade cooperatives and cultivate a greater appreciation of Palestinian traditions, food and people.

You will also discuss integral human rights issues with Palestinian and Israeli organizations, as well as observe first-hand the effects of occupation on the Palestinian economy, tourism and life. Learn how to help change the U.S.'s detrimental role in the conflict, and the benefits of supporting Palestinian Fair Trade products in the U.S. Resources from the trip will support self-sufficiency and promote solidarity between internationals and Palestinian farming communities.

For more information, please contact Sanaz.




Guatemala: Fair Trade vs. Free Trade

June 20, 200
9 - June 28, 2008

Approximate Cost: $1285

Join Global Exchange for a Reality Tour exploring how U.S. fair trade activists and women's cooperatives in Guatemala are working together to use fair trade to advance local development efforts in Latin America's most impoverished communities. We invite you to travel to Guatemala to meet with artisan cooperatives and affiliated grassroots NGOs. Visit and work with these cooperatives that are providing fair wage employment and a support network to women, many of which survived violent repression during Guatemala's civil war. Trip participants will learn about each community's history and the local development projects funded through their fair trade sales in the U.S. In contrast participants will witness the negative impacts of the free trade model in the region.

Fair Trade vs. Free Trade will allow participants to explore how they, as consumers, can support development efforts abroad. The tour is intended to motivate participation in fair trade initiatives upon return to the U.S. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with cooperative members, representatives of leading indigenous and human rights organizations, and local government officials about issues related to women's rights, racism, economic justice, and community health in both the U.S. and Guatemala.

For more information, please contact Sneh.




Mexico: Chiapas: Tierra y Libertad

March 19, 2009
- March 28, 2009

Approximate Cost: $975

In January 1994, Chiapas Mexico, the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was met with one of the largest uprisings led by indigenous in Mexican history. The purpose of the uprising: to bring attention to the precarious living conditions of indigenous people and the potential for deeper impoverishment and marginalization with the passage of NAFTA.

Join us on our delegation to Chiapas as we celebrate the Zapatista uprising against NAFTA and learn about what has motivated popular movements in Mexico. Examine the recent history of the Chiapas region and hear about challenges facing the struggle for indigenous autonomy. Learn about the direct effects of globalization in the context of NAFTA and the on-going efforts for economic justice and democracy. Dialogue with indigenous peasants who have been working for the right to own the land upon which they live and work, and govern their communities according to indigenous traditions and customs. We will visit with diverse organizations and their representatives in the area: from religious and community leaders, to non-government civic organizations and women's cooperatives, all working for peace and stability in the region. Our delegation will be based in the colonial town of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and will travel to surrounding communities to speak with indigenous and campesino organizational leaders, activists, educators, students, and artisans. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet people involved in grassroots movements and exchange ideas with them while learning more about the unique history and culture of Chiapas.

For more information, please contact Sneh.




Local RT Presents...

Reality Tours San Francisco: Sanctuary City?

November 13, 2008

  San Francisco opens its arms to immigrants as a Sanctuary City, but did you know that right now undocumented workers are slaving away in hidden sweatshops?
Join GX's Chie Abad on a discussion of sweatshops and sweatfree ordinances and alternatives, including fair trade and locally produced garments. Find out how you can help end sweatshop labor in your town and around the world. For more information on this and other upcoming local Reality Tours trips please click here.

$75 fee includes:

    * Free day pass to San Francisco Green Festival!
    * Up-close look at a sweatshop right here in SF
    * Discussion with ex-sweatshop worker & anti-sweatshop activist Chie Abad
    * Visit local alternatives to sweatshop-manufactured goods
    * Transportation during the tour
      (tour begins/ends at Global Exchange, 2017 Mission St., SF)
    * Honoraria for speakers

Register now! Space is limited

To sign up, contact Blaine Clarke:




    Don't have the time or finances to join us at this time on a Reality Tour? Still want to make a difference and support the Fair Trade movement? If so, we invite you to...

Shop Responsibly at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Online Store!

As consumers, we possess so much power and potential to create more socially and economically just trade arrangements. As the holidays approach and the inevitable shopping frenzy begins pulling us towards strip malls and chain stores, we invite you to think outside the gift-box and exercise your power to purchase ethically and consciously. Our team at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Online Store works hard to connect customers with small producers and cooperatives according to Fair Trade criteria. As a result, we generate income for thousands of artisans and their families in over 40 countries. Simultaneously, we offer our customers not only beautiful hand crafted holiday gifts, but the satisfaction of knowing that they are directly helping both those families and the very worthy cause of Fair Trade. To visit our Fair Trade Online Store, please click here. Global Exchange also has 3 brick and mortar Fair Trade stores located in California and Oregon. To find the closest store to you please click here.

Lastly, from now until the end of the year you can enter the following coupon code at checkout to receive 10% off of your next Fair Trade Online Store purchase: realitytours1008




Still looking for ways to get involved?

Get started today in making a difference in ending poverty and protecting the environment through Fair Trade year-round, right from the comfort of your own home!

Global Exchange's Sweet Smarts Fair Trade campaign invites you to take action through Reverse Trick or Treating on Halloween, Fair Trade Holiday Caroling, the National Day of Action, Fair Trade Cocoa curricula for schools, and plenty of other ways to transform your community!  Join our Fair Trade National listserv today at!  More information at

We also encourage Reality Tours Friends to educate themselves on an important piece of legislation called the TRADE (Trade Reform, Accountability, Development & Employment) Act. The TRADE Act call for comprehensive reform of the policies behind failed trade agreements such as NAFTA and the WTO, and proposes concrete and forward thinking approaches to new trade systems that will better serve American workers, trade partners abroad, and the environment. Act now to help tip the scales away from corporate interests and towards an intelligent and economically just trade agenda. More information on the TRADE Act can be found at To tell your members of congress to support the TRADE Act today, go to!




Reality Tours: A Firsthand Account

By Renee Cooper

Reality Tours Delegate to Nicaragua, 2008

The experiences I had on my  tour to Nicaragua were nothing short of unforgettable. During my Reality Tour I met some of the nicest most accepting people in all of my travels and I even had the honor to share a couple of days and nights in the home of one particularly loving and caring family. They opened up their lives to me in a manner that made me feel like I had come home to a place I never before thought I'd find myself so comfortable in. Experiencing a culture and a country through home-stays, working on a coffee farm, talking to locals, being surrounded by the most vibrant and lush landscapes I've ever seen and feeling like a member of the community are all things this reality tour offered to me.

I will never forget the irreplaceable time I spent in Nicaragua nor the people there I had been blessed to have met. Every morning as I start my day off with a cup of coffee, I am reminded of the faces and the stories of the people who work hard to plant, grow, and harvest those beans that that we enjoy every morning. This trip will reveal to you how closely we are all connected, the coffee drinker with the coffee farmer, and give you hope for a more just connection between our two countries!  




Donate Today to the Reality Tours Scholarship Fund

Have you participated in a past Reality Tour and returned home feeling inspired and energized to be an active agent for change in our world? Did a Reality Tour deepen your understanding of the importance of creating people to people ties across geographical, cultural, and economic borders? If so, we would like to invite you to share this experience by donating to the Reality Tours Scholarship Fund.

Since many youth and people from low-income communities find it difficult to afford our delegations, Reality Tours works to maintain a Scholarship Fund as a way of extending this transformative opportunity to a larger population.

The purpose of the Scholarship Program is not only a means to help support these communities, but also to ensure greater diversity and mutual learning within each Reality Tour group. The Fund is sustained by benefits events and donations from previous Reality Tour Participants, like you.

Every penny counts. Your contributions go to ensure that young and economically disadvantaged individuals continue experiencing these empowering delegations. All donations are also tax-deductible as we are a certified 501(c)(3) Non Profit!

To donate please send checks made out to "Global Exchange: Reality Tours Scholarship Fund", to:

Global Exchange
2017 Mission St, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94110


If you have any general questions about the contents contained here, or would like to submit an article or photo for future newsletters, please contact Zeya.

Thank you very much for your care and support!

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