The Passport School

I get to do a lot of amazing things as an independent blogger. Just two weeks I ago I attended a beautiful event at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara. I had fancy cocktails and stayed in a room where the posted rack rate was, oh, it’s too embarrassing to say. I enjoy the things I get to do tremendously, and while most of the time I feel unbelievably lucky, I also suffer, a little, from the noise of being active in the blogging community.

There are bloggers who have the resources to do whatever they want without worrying about how they will pay for what happens tomorrow. There are those who want to be internet famous and those who have specious business strategies and those who will tell you what you ought to do even though your situation is nothing like theirs. If, like me, you have aspirations towards the artistic, It can be very frustrating, demoralizing at times, even, to participate in this competitive, striving environment. Every week another list comes out with top bloggers on it, and every week I’m not on it. The popular kids understand the strategies behind being popular, and they win at the game that is the web. Good for them. I mean that. Meanwhile, I continue to do things wrong.

I don’t have a book deal. I don’t have a TV show in the works. I don’t have a brand ambassador gig. I don’t have impressive traffic on this site, far from it. I don’t have high profile platform from which to tell my stories. I have a patchy record with gigs for travel writing, and I get rejection letters nine out of ten times I pitch a story. I don’t have a day job in travel. And mostly, I’m fine with that. Because what I do have is a couple of blurry photographs from a school in Cambodia that I helped build.

Passports with Purpose

There’s probably a way I could figure out how to spin all my weird internet skills into landing the high profile gig of my dreams. I’d have to make those sacrifices that other people are always telling me I need to make, and then, I’d be living a completely different life in pursuit of — well, I’m not sure what, exactly.

But this thing we did — we being the crew behind Passports with Purpose — we took all that striving and competing and energy and turned it into to something small, really. A little school house in rural Cambodia. Wooden benches and concrete floors and bare walls. It’s not much. And it is everything in the world at the same time. Because it makes all that noise about what I “ought” to be doing disappear.

Passports with Purpose 2010 opens on November 15th. We have great stuff to give away, generous sponsors, and the participation of about 100 bloggers. And we have these blurry photos that show me, and maybe you, if you participated, that, no, I didn’t use my internet skills for my own agenda or to get internet famous or to experience amazing things. Not always. I worked with Beth and Debbie and Michelle and Meg and maybe you. And instead of thinking about what we could get, we gave a bunch of kids in Cambodia this:

Passports with Purpose

In return, I got some blurry photos. It feels like a very good deal.

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10 thoughts on “The Passport School

  1. I think what Passport With Purpose has done is outstanding. You should stand proud. I have donated a prize this year, and am looking forward to being involved. This donation is like Christmas gift to me. I feel good that I am contributing.

    The Internet is a strange place. I see a lot of great things here and I also see mediocrity. What amazes me is how often the mediocrity seems to get rewarded. I think at the end of the day we have to try and do our best and be true to ourselves.

  2. Thanks for the photos. The look of concentrated intent on the childrens’ faces is a joy to see… no wonder it fills you with pride. I recently did an evaluation about learning methods at a mud-walled crowded primary school in Kenya. (We are trying to help the teachers introduce new forms of teaching into the school curriculum.) One of the questions on the survey was how much do you like going to school. ALL the children said, “very very much”. The highest rating. The same evaluation in Germany usually comes up with middle range response “sometimes” or “mostly”. I bet if you asked those children at your school how much they like going to school, they would also say, very very much.

  3. Great post, Pam. It is wonderful to see the fruits of our labor paying off.

    I’m excited to be part of Passports with Purpose. It is a great cause, bringing travel bloggers together to support a greater purpose.

    At almost 50 years of age, my entire perspective on life is a little blurry. Blurry pictures from Cambodia? I’m good with that.

  4. So much of web “popularity” seems like a high school student government race, doesn’t it? I was a total geek in high school. I’m still one, but I don’t care as much as I once did.

    I think in 10, 50 and 100 years, that you helped to create a school will matter a lot more than web traffic stats. Hell, it matters more NOW. Good karma on you and your co-conspirators.

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