Connecting The Dots Around The World With Coffee

Confronting The Coffee Crises:

On our way to Brazil, the largest coffee exporter in the world, we had the opportunity to listen to Lee Gross explain his Masters research on small scale coffee production in the Dominican Republic. We are traveling down the Amazon River on the ML Explorer with the Spring 2011 Semester At Sea voyage learning new concepts from the theme: Thinking Globally to Acting Locally on a daily basis.

Lee Gross sharing research on Spring 2011 Semester At Sea

The information Lee shared was really an awakening for me to really embrace the concept of supporting  “Certified Fair Trade” products.

I must admit I have been on the outside looking in with really understanding the importance of using my consumer dollar to support the environment and small scale farming families. Lee’s presentation “connected the dots” for me in understanding why we should buy “Certified Fair Trade” products.
Interesting facts about coffee production:
• 25 million families are “sustained” by coffee and its connected production products
• Shade grown coffee helps with soil conservation, provides habitat for bird life and consumptive fruits to families
• Brazil produces 1/3 of the world’s coffee
• Small production farms would be the size of a backyard in an American subdivision.
• Coffee is handpicked by millions of laborers and grows in remote mountainous areas. The largest cost to bring the coffee to market is the transportation by mule to the cooperative and export overseas
• Coffee is harvested only one time a year which creates a cash flow problem for small farmers
• Coffee is the 2nd most traded commodity in the world behind OIL
• Most small coffee growers receive $1 to $1.40 per pound
• President John F. Kennedy started the ICA International Coffee Agreement regulating coffee prices
• In 1989 the ICA was terminated which has resulted in an extremely volatile coffee market
• It takes 5-7 years from planting a coffee tree to harvest
• Farmers have all the risk with weather, disease and pests
• 63% of the coffee market is controlled by 5 big corporations: ie. Kraft, Proctor & Gamble, Nestles, Tchibo. who in 2001 at the heart of the coffee crisis experienced significant earnings
• Coffee can be differentiated through specialty coffee organizations, which purchase the highest quality coffee i.e. Starbucks, Green Mountain, Cooperative Coffees, Peats Coffee. Coffee can also be differentiated by purchasing single origin coffees
• Fair Trade is a certification, which ensures that farmers are paid a minimum price ($1.38-$1.50) plus a social premium for good practices, democracy in organization and additional premiums for organic production. Coffee by any roaster can be Fair Trade certified
• Certified Fair Trades growers have to produce products under specific condition to obtain the certification
• Many developing countries spend more in military expenses than in the education of their people
• There is no incentive to grow organic so only the consumer can help the farmers by paying more for certified products
• Organic certifications certify the productions method
• Fair Trade certifications certify the process of trade (i.e. labor practices, minimum price, transparency, etc.
• Many farmers do not have title to their land and cannot obtain loans
How can you help make a difference in supporting small farmers?  Follow the links below for a cliff note lesson!

1. Read about the Certified Fair Trade products, Specialty Coffees and Relationship Coffees. Don’t buy coffee in a can. Know where it comes from and that workers were paid a fair price. Buy certified and single origin coffees. Be a conscious consumer, your dollar speaks!

2. Be willing to pay more to help the environment and sustainability of the world. Support companies who can ensure transparency in process, social and environmental best practices.
3. Learn more about injustice happening everywhere and share with your friends.

Coffee bean sorting

When I posted information about the class and helping small coffee growers on facebook the first person to comment was my friend Sadie Harris from France. She has been buying Certified Fair Trade products for years and makes a conscious effort to support the movement. Many Europeans are acutely aware of how this impacts the world. Traveling around the world, learning from educators in all fields of sustainability is certainly helping me connect more dots!  We are taking the global lessons and applying them to our local practices!

One person DOES make a difference and if that person shares with one other person who becomes aware of the environment and injustice then modifies their buying behavior the world can change. Remember to Buy Certified Fair Trade Products!

I am excited to hear back from you!  Read all the links and then let us know how it touched your life and what you are doing to share?

This post took days to finish with the bad Internet connection so thank you for your patience!  More to come Connecting The Dots Around The World!  Be sure to check out the contest to visit one of the seven wonders of the world!

Global Realities Shared On The Ship!

The transformational trip of a lifetime is starting to set in as a “reality” after being at sea for 6 days on the round the world voyage with Semester At Sea.  Global “realities” are being shared on the ship that have already started to stimulate the consciousness of individuals in our local ship community.

Dominica, was the first port of call and there were some special lessons in the rainforest from a guide who loves and listens to the land.  His bonding with the land made him keenly aware of what “was possible” to those looking on the outside in.

Organic farming and herbology were two other aspects of sustainability we investigated in this emerging Island.  My “take away” from Dominica was to implement a composting plan in my back yard to do my part in making a difference and to ALWAYS remember the lesson of the guide in believing that something is possible when it appears to be impossible. Follow us for daily insight as we learn together how to navigate different situations and “connect the dots around the world. “

Traveling around the world with a group of 605 college students, 66 lifelong learners and 70 TOP EDUCATORS has built up HIGH expectations of a “transformational” voyage. Speaking with new people every day at meal time creates opportunities to learn and share with one another like none other we have ever experienced.  Taking classes, observing in the Field  Programs, listening to speakers who are on the ship to share how they are making a difference in the world one  person at at time and explaining how they accomplished it leaves little time to post on my blog and process all that is going on. Today we had a message that moved me to tears at least three times.

JEFFREY A. KOTTLER, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology was our speaker in Global Studies class today.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Kottler

He  has written over 80 books including a recent New York Times best seller  “The Last Victim: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers”  which is now a movie produced by Clark Peterson who also produced the film, Monster. The film “Dear Mr. Gacy” earned an Academy Award for best actress.

The thought provoking question of the day for me was:

“Would you sell your daughter to avoid starving?”

Most people reading this post will never have to answer that question but there are millions around the world that have to make the decision on a daily basis.

  • The average family in Nepal makes only $210 per year.
  • The cost to buy uniforms and eat at school is $50.00 per year.
  • A family with 4 or 5 children has to decide who can go to school and survive and who will have to be “taken by an employer” to survive on their own.
  • The parent does not know what will become of the girls “taken by an employer” they are simply hoping they can eat.
  • The life span of a girl taken into “sex slavery” by an “employer”  is about 3 years before they die from aids.
  • Many of the girls are raped 10 to 12 times on their first day in service.
  • Men with aids in the culture think that having sex with a virgin could possibly cure them of aids.

Dr. Kottler spoke on “Promoting Social Justice.” His accounts of helping save the lives of two specific girls are an inspiration to all.  Now through his program he is helping over 150 Nepali girls and keeping them from disappearing into sex slavery.  $50.00 initially saved Inu Pavivar from being sold into sex slavery and allowed her to attend school in her village. Her story stimulated a movement called “Empower Nepali Girls Foundation.”  Dr. Kottler ultimately had to go back each year to check on her to make sure the $50.00 was being spent on her education and NOT lining the pockets of some other entity.  This is a true success story and now….

Inu Pariyar, our first student to receive a university scholarship, working in the media and radio studio at Rangsit University in Thailand. She is studying communication and media, fields that are especially impoverished in her own country of Nepal.”

The life of another young girl with a deadly infection on her face was saved for $14.00. Dr. Kottler’s message helped us see how important small donations can be when they are given to the right organizations.   Read more details at Empower Nepali Girls Foundation.

More important facts:

* Facebook group is open to join: Empower Nepali Girls Foundation

* Empower Nepali Girls Foundation is a grassroots in that we have no paid staff and no office.  Everyone pays           their own expenses; that means that 90% of money donated goes DIRECTLY to keep a lower caste girl in               school and prevents her being sold into sex slavery.

* There are 12,000 Nepali girls each year sold into slavery.

*  The foundation visits every girl’s home, every year to make sure she’s okay, has enough to eat, and that her        family supports the education.

*  The group is currently supporting over 150 girls

*  $125 keeps a girl in primary or secondary school for a year!

*  As the girls get older and begin university and technical and medical school, the cost jumps to about $3,000  per girl per year.

*  The group operates in 9 different villages in the most remote, neglected parts of the country of Nepal.

Jeffery Kottler Ph.D. asks introspective questions that when answered might help change the world:

“What is it that leads people to help others, even when they do so at great personal sacrifice?

What is it that motivates you to reach out to others in need?

How are those involved in social justice and altruistic projects transformed by their experiences?”

PLEASE, access all the links in this post and discover how rewarding it is to serve others. and think about how you can make a difference in your own community or around the world.

  • When you give your time and energy you are sharing an integral part of yourself.
  • You are helping people not part of a tribe.
  • It is hard work and a selfless act taking your time and energy to give to others.

Thank you, JEFFREY A. KOTTLER, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Spring 2011Semester at Sea for showing us the way that one person can make a huge difference.

The World Is My Classroom!

The World Is My Classroom!

Today was the first day of class for Spring 2011 Semester At Sea, the 104th voyage of this floating University.  I awoke at 6:55 a.m. and needed to make my first class at 8:00 a.m.  Visions of Colorado State University, 1974 danced in my head and I knew I could make the class.  I pulled on my jeans and t-shirt, put on my “Skecher’s” pulled back my hair etc. etc., grabbed my notebook and took off to the Dining Hall.  There I filled my “food network” coffee mug, ate some pineapple chunks and got to class on time.

The world is my classroom!

Exhilaration is the feeling that rushed through my 57 year old body on the first day in the floating, world classroom. I took some time to silently express my gratitude for this incredible opportunity to be able to become part of a 700 member ship board community. To be able to learn how global issues can be assimilated and the lessons brought right back home to our own cities and towns.  It’s energizing to go   “glocal” Thinking Globally and Acting Locally.

The college classmates around me were laughing with each other about not getting their pictures for the first day at school and of course I could not resist and had to take the photo op. I do have pictures of my daughters first day of school from Kindergarten to Freshman at college… So these were fun photos for Tom and me!

Carra Riley first day of Class Semester At Sea

Juliana Acheson, PH.D is the dynamic instructor for Anthropology 3000 “Food and Culture.” She is traveling with her husband and two daughters.  I am hoping to work with her children on the Cosmic Kids e-workbooks and really have some great research on how the principles in Cosmic Cow Pie come together for kids.

Dr. Juliann Acheson

The “Food and Culture”  class is so popular it had to be moved to the Student Union to accommodate all the students wanting to learn about Food and Culture.  Instructor Acheson started out requiring the classroom be configured in a circle so everyone could see everyone else.  The students were way out of their comfort zone in re-arranging the room.  The effect of the activity was interesting as the results of the group coming together in a circle created an instant connection among the participants.  Leave it to an Anthropology instructor to show such a good example in human behavior and how to get people to engage.

The first question Dr. Acheson asked the group to share around the circle was “What is the most recent NEW food you have tried that you liked?

I had to take a few minutes to stop and think about my food habits.  Trying new things has been something that I have not consciously thought about for a long time. Pondering the question and thinking about my behavior, I have to say I have not been very adventuresome about trying new foods lately.  What a great blog post this can be for people to start conversation or even a fb update. The list of new foods the students had recently tried and “liked” went from blueberries, brussel sprouts cherries, an omelet, pomegranate, chicken masala to raw heart, squid ink pasta, conch, frog legs, buffalo, bear guiney pig, chocolate covered worms, citric ants, sea urchins, and monkey brains.  No joke, one young lady said monkey brains!  I thought the student might be taking a line right out of Raiders of the lost Ark but evidently in South America, where she had visited it is a delicacy and she tried it. The raw heart was something a lifelong learner had tried in Pakistan.  We had young students and mature lifelong learners sharing their food experiences and touching one another by stimulating the concept of adventure with food around the world. There were certainly some real “foodies” in this group and it inspired my thought to consider trying new food, culture and the countries we are going to be visiting with a different vision and attitude.

After attending school this morning, I signed up for a cooking class in Brazil. We will create our own dinner with a chef using local products!

Teaching and learning is happening all over this ship at all times of the day and night.

Last night we had our first group meeting to discuss the book “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. The book is an account of how one man with a vision built 54 schools in Pakistan to help educate women and children. The discussion delved into why and how this man was able to do what he did with only a dream and a passion for helping others.

Discussion group talking about the transformation process of a trip around the world together

The entire ship population, including 66 lifelong learners and 598 students are divided into groups of about 20 participants.  The group will get together before and after ports to discuss what we expect and then after we return what we observed then later, how it manifested in our thoughts. The Semester At Sea vision is to create an “experiential” education event which can possibly transform the lives of those participating.

What did I learn today? I need to be open to trying new food options. Not sure if I am going to eat everything we are exposed to but I will be open and watch those who do! The big lesson is just being receptive to new concepts presented by different cultures with a respect for their values.

The world is my classroom and I am ready to learn!

Sign up to play “Where in the world is Carra Riley?”  Win a travel voucher, lodging, food and entrance to other attractions at one of the Seven wonders of the world!

What Is The Next Charm On The Travel Bracelet?

Is life just a big charm bracelet?

Are the expectations for a travel journey just to get that next gold charm on the bracelet and to say you have been there and done that?

These are questions asked by Executive Dean, Dan Garvy at orientation for the Spring 2011 Semester At Sea Voyage leaving Nassau, Bahamas today.  His candor and dedication to “experiential” education is reflective of the magnitude in time and coordination that has gone into creating the 2011 Spring voyage around the world with Semester at sea.   Dean Garvy told  the students and life long learners that they “were needed to make this all happen.”  Without the participants, the vision never becomes a reality which can make a difference in the world.  To me the keynote speech said that “WE” the individuals on the trip are what it takes to “connect the dots around the world” to create a memorable and harmonious experience.  The connection described today made me feel like an integral part of the community and that my contribution will help others as we create the music of life together in harmony all over the world.

It might seem funny to you, the reader, to be describing the event in musical terms. Dean Garvy had piano music as part of the presentation showing how individual expectations alone do not create a melody.  One note alone,  even two notes alone mean nothing and if you have many notes not in sync it just sounds like noise.  It takes combining several notes with harmony to come up with a balance and a meaningful presentation.

One of the goals of the Semester At Sea Organization we heard about earlier this morning is to “Educate Individuals… have infused shared learning coming together with faculty and students.” “We believe strongly in the program’s mission and that the experience truly deepens one’s understanding of issues and culture…”  Today we heard  about how the experience in the confines of the ship with seniors in their late 80’s to college students in our community would impact who we are and where we are going with the rest of our lives.  Dean Garvy explained how we would all be engaging in groups about our personal journey as we experience different cultural exposures around the world. The Theme of this voyage is Thinking Globally Acting Locally.  The opening remarks set the bar of expectations to be one of growth, harmony and change within the 104 days at sea.

It seemed like my husband Tom and I have been planning, packing and waiting for ever!  We finally left the port in Nassau! As the ship pulled out of dock it was like embarking on a journey with 700 individuals we didn’t really know but deep down we know after the 104 days we will all have something very special in common as we learn and process world change together!

Hang on the ride is just beginning.….. actually the wind came up and it is rocking and rolling a bit!  We did a practice evacuation drill so we are set to sail!  We are cruising at a higher rate of speed to make up the three hour delay!  The journey of a lifetime began today!

Be sure to sign up to play “Where in the world is Carra Riley?” Lot’s of fun just posting and following the journey around the world!

Practice evacuation today before sailing

Saying Goodbye to parents on shore

Bon Voyage Spring 2011 SAS taking off!

Let The Game begin! Where In The World is Carra Riley?

Today, January 12, 2011 is the official launch day of the game, Where in the world is Carra Riley?

The contest is an opportunity to win a $500 travel certificate to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is combined with 6 other connected prizes from Williams, Arizona the Gateway to the Grand Canyon: 2 meals from Grand Canyon Coffee & Cafe,  3 nights at The Grand Country Inn, train ride for 2 on the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon, bull whip lesson with Buck Williams , two rounds of golf at Elephant Rocks Golf Course, 4 car load passes to Bearizona and more to make winning the trip extra special.  See all the rules here.

Join in the fun.. all you have to do is engage by commenting and come to the party!  You will be sharing the journey with me, Carra Riley as I travel with world with my husband Tom on the  Spring 2011 Semester at Sea voyage.  I will be doing research as I write “Cosmic Cow Pie…Connecting The Dots Around The World.”

Today was a full day of checking out of the hotel, getting to the dock, going through customs, unpacking and participating in a “meet and greet” with the parents of the students on the voyage!

I set up the computer with the ships wireless system but we cannot upload video.  I will have to save the video till I can get to Cyber Cafes in port and stick to small file pictures to share!  You can also go to my flickr account and see the photos of the day all along the voyage!

A picture speaks a thousand words.. so this is what we did today!

Tom Riley in Nassau Semester At Sea

Carra Riley Nassau Semester At Sea

Our Ship MV Explorer

More pictures on flickr in the Semester At Sea MV Explorer set.

So let’s get this party started! Comment on the blog posts, the facebook fan page, the flickr account or youtube videos!  Get a point for each comment up to 5 comments a day!  In the event of a tie, additional engagement or posting on any of the sites will determine the tie breaker!  Go to the forum at Cosmic Cow Pie and register so we know your screen name and can keep track of your points.  If you don’ t register we will not know you are playing the game!

This should be fun and you might just connect with some very interesting people from across the world!