Traveling for Change: One Village, One Leader, One Life at a Time
To be welcomed into another culture is an incredible gift—one that we've received time and time again in our own travels, and one that we strive to share with you on every journey you take with us. By reaching out and connecting with communities around the world, we learn to appreciate firsthand not only our diversity, but our commonality ... and the understanding we gain can be life-changing.
We owe our success to this focus on cultural exchange—which is why in 1992, we established Grand Circle Foundation as a means to give back to the world that had already given us so much. Since then, we've pledged or donated more than $50 million worldwide to support the education of young people and the preservation of cultural treasures and traditions.
Of course, none of this would be possible without your help. Whenever you travel with us, we apply a portion of your trip cost toward the work of Grand Circle Foundation—so just as your life will be enriched by the discoveries you'll make on your journey, you'll also help to enrich the lives of the people you’ll meet along the way.
Thank you for traveling with us, and for helping us change people’s lives.
Love and peace,
Harriet & Alan Lewis
Traveling for change in villages worldwide
We believe that each journey is essentially traveling from one village to another. Since 1985 we have incorporated opportunities for travelers to experience daily life within these villages. It has always been important to us to give back to the people who welcome us into their lives, and Grand Circle Foundation was created in 1992 to do just that. Over the years we have made donations to more than 100 villages and schools in more than 30 countries throughout the world. When you travel with OAT you will see firsthand your philanthropy at work. You may see the many classrooms built or improved, or enhancements to the village to create a safer, healthier, and more vibrant community. On your journey you will meet the children, parents, or village or school leaders who hold precious and big dreams for their future. Our local presence of regional offices and Trip Leaders throughout the world allows us to listen to these leaders and partner with them to ensure we provide the support they need rather than what we may think they need. Connections made between our travelers and local people in their daily life have the power to change the world. We learn the wonderful and unique parts of another culture. More important, we are reminded that throughout the world we all share the same dreams of a strong future for our children, for the health and prosperity of our village, and for peace.
Community service—at home and around the world
We believe we all want to be part of something bigger then ourselves. At Grand Circle Corporation, giving back is a way of life and a way to give back where we live and work. In Boston’s inner city we support dozens of organizations—most helping young people be safe, overcome obstacles, and reach their potential. Together these organizations serve thousands of needy kids.We work in partnership with our Community Advisory Group, which is an assembly of gutsy leaders who hold a bold vision for a better Boston, who innovate, and who have the courage to make big change happen. More than 95% of our associates participate in Community Service projects throughout the year. They are a generous team who give their time, talent and money to help their neighbors in need. Our regional offices throughout the world each develop and conduct a service project in their communities, often bringing in Trip Leaders and our travel partners to join.
Our generous travelers
Inspired by their visits to Grand Circle Foundation sites around the world, our travelers often return home with a desire to give back to the villages that welcomed them. Over the past 3 years more than 1,000 travelers have donated $350,000 on their own. Others provide a more personal example of giving back. Susan Rickert raised money to build a secondary school in Tanzania, Andi Silhanek returned to Costa Rica to teach for a year, Hugh Thurnauer created a scholarship fund, and Linda Steffens found a new passion in photography that captures the spirit and hope of children of the villages—and donates a portion of her sales in support of the foundation.We thank our travelers who have generously given of their money, time and spirit to help change people’s lives through the work of Grand Circle Foundation.
Honorary Directors, Grand Circle Foundation
Grand Circle Foundation is honored to benefit from the great example set by this distinguished panel, who provide stewardship and also recommend and advise us on worthwhile endeavors.
- Lady June Hillary - Chairman, Himalayan Trust; widow of late Honorary Director Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008)
- Dr. Robert Muller - Former Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations; Recipient, Albert Schweitzer Prize for the Humanities
- Kazimierz Smolen - Polish Resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor; Former Director, State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau
- Lech Walesa - President of Poland, 1990-1995; Recipient, Nobel Peace Prize
- Barbara Washburn - Mountaineer and Explorer; First woman to summit Mt. McKinley
- Ree Sheck - Writer and conservationist
- Willy Chambulo - Owner and managing director, Kibo Guides Safaris; Entrepreneur
- Angeles Arrien - Anthropologist, Author, Educator, Business Consultant; President of the Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research
Join us online to learn more about the many ways we help change lives together.
- Sign up for our e-newsletter and receive a complimentary copy of At the End of the Day —a book of inspirational readings selected by Alan and Harriet Lewis
- Read profiles of gutsy leaders who inspire us to create change, and nominate a local hero from your community or your travels
- Find out how you can invest in a village—and we’ll match your donation 100%. Look for the icon below on our new website to find out more.