ExChange The World - a journey around the world within which Anna Książek and Andrea Pucci are travelling and meeting inspiring changemakers.
Everything started 6 years ago, from the passion of travelling. We discovered that deeply in our hearts we are nomads, we love and we need to be on the move. We decided to quit everything – stable jobs, sense of security, the expectations of our families and friends – and start to travel around the world. We are also very passionate about social and ecological work and we tried to find a way for our travel to carry some positive impact. We didn't want to use our privilege of being white people born in Europe, and waste lots of CO2, just for our own fun. At the time we were shaping this vision, Anna was working in Ashoka – an international organization supporting changemakers from all over the world. She was also involved in the scout movement, which main focus is “leaving this world better than we found it”. These experiences inspired us to define the purpose of our travel: looking for changemakers and spreading their powerful stories, bringing hope and motivation to others. Showing people that the world is more complex and more beautiful than the single picture we get from mainstream media, giving voice to those who try to bring positive change and shifting the focus towards stories of solution.
That's how we started in September 2015.
The first block of our journey was South East Asia – in 9 months we visited 9 countries, interviewing more than 120 people who lead NGOs, social businesses or informal groups aiming to make a difference. Finding people who bring change proved to be much easier than we ever thought. We used our partner organizations (or google) to get the first contact, and once we got in it was like a snowball – we ended every interview with the question: “who else should we interview?” getting at least a few new names. We always met changemakers face to face as it's the best way to recognize their intention and focus – is changemaking a pillar of the initiative or just a good marketing strategy?
After the first 9 months of travel we came back for a few months to Europe to meet friends and family, to rest and rethink our idea. At that time we realized that although positive stories are a very important way to change the world, as they bring hope and help break stereotypes about countries from the Global South, we wanted to do more. We started from better defining our vision, mission and the values we based our work on. We envision a world where everybody is a changemaker. We don't believe in governments or big organizations to bring change, at least not alone. We need the involvement of every single person and only together will we be able to create a just, equal and sustainable world.
We crystallized our approach into a motto: Create Your Story, Change The World. We realized that the first step to become a changemaker is to recognize our own strengths, dreams, values and passions and only from there to see how those can contribute to a better world. Based on that, as well as on the first 120 changemakers’ stories and on answers we got for questions like “what is needed to change the world?”, “what are your biggest challenges?”, etc. we created a Changemaker Course – a 6-day training which prepares people to become leaders of change in their own communities. So far we have organized more than 20 courses of this type in 6 different countries. We also started to propose shorter workshops like the Changemaker Weekend or a 2h Changemaker Game to introduce people to the topic, give them hope and a little spark which maybe one day will result in action.
Picture: Bolivia. Anna Książek and Andrea Pucci trekking around La Paz in Bolivia, June 2018.
During the next few years we visited 25 more countries, mostly in the Global South. We travelled through South America, South East Europe, South Asia. So far we have collected more than 300 stories, some of which we will share with you in a series of posts on ‘See the World Differently’. Changemaking continues despite or maybe rather because of the pandemic. We've noticed that the more difficult the situation faced by a particular country or community is, the more impressive and unstoppable are the changemakers you can meet there. The pandemic, as any other crisis, is also an opportunity. Opportunity to rethink the world we live in, to spot weak points of the system we created and to get involved in changing it. Let's learn from changemakers how to do it.
More information about ExChange The World:
Check also our educational scenarios based on changemaker’ stories, which aim at preparing and encouraging children, youth and adult to get involved in creating a better world:
Picture: Cambodia. Anna Książek and Andrea Pucci in Angkor Wat, Cambodia - the largest temple complex in the world, December 2015.