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04 Mar Feb Photo Challenge Winner: Around the World in 28 Days

WHAT IS THE #BAPHOTOCHALLENGE?

Photo challenge participants get a prompt emailed to them at the beginning of the month, and follow-up emails periodically in the following weeks. They then share their best photos that follow along with the theme that month.
The goal is to share captivating images online, with meaningful captions, in order to promote cross-cultural understanding in a fun, simple way.

FEBRUARY’S PHOTO CHALLENGE:

In February we challenged you to connect with bloggers all around the world. Participants used their own personalized hashtag to travel ‘around the world’ without leaving the comforts of their home. Reaching 18 different countries we were able to follow their journeys around the world. From the shores of Ghana to dancing in Indonesia we were able to see landscapes, people, and cultural exchange from all across the globe. This month was about connecting people across the world who are all passionate about travel and cultural exchange. In the end we had one winner, let’s look at her journey across the world!

Check out her personal cross cultural journey on instagram or on her blog www.movingwrightalong.com

Thank you to all the participants this month! Be sure to join us with the next photo challenge to get an all new prompt on the 1st of the month!

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

13 Feb 2017 Blog Challenge BONUS Round Up BONUS: Hospitality

Our final prompt of the 2017 New Years challenge has officially passed, however, we did issue a bonus prompt. A few intrepid bloggers took us up on the additional challenge, which we will share with you here.

The Prompt: Hospitality

Peace Corps Week is coming up at the end of February and they’re celebrating with the theme: Highlighting Hospitality. So we took the opportunity to support that effort, as an optional Blog Challenge prompt. Although not everyone in the Blogging Abroad community are Peace Corps Volunteers, this theme applies to anyone with a host community overseas.
PCV or not, this was an opportunity to share traditions of hospitality and inspiring stories of how our host community welcomes us and others.

You’re encouraged to browse the Round Up links listed below for more blog inspiration and interesting cross-cultural topics. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

 

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

30 Jan New Years 2017 Blog Challenge Round Up #4: HOPE

Welcome to the Week Four Blog Challenge recap!

This is officially our final prompt of the 2017 New Years challenge, however, there is a bonus prompt in the pipeline for those who want to continue their blogging challenge beyond January.

The Prompt: Hope & Change

For many of us, our worlds are going through some major changes and sometimes it’s easy to lose hope. So we’re focusing our blogging efforts on Hope and Change. Where do we draw hope from? And how do we create positive change?

Highlights

This week’s responses were especially encouraging to me. It was clear that many bloggers have been “feeling the weight of the world” and yet, they’re able to find hope, find ways to move forward, and encourage others. It’s not an easy thing to published a balance of positives and negatives, or to keep yourself in check when emotions are running high. Here are just a few examples of great posts from the past week with a cool spin on the theme:

You’re encouraged to browse the Round Up links listed below for more blog inspiration and interesting cross-cultural topics. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

 

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

23 Jan New Years 2017 Blog Challenge Round Up #3

Welcome to the Week Three Blog Challenge recap!

This January, bloggers living around the world are taking the challenge to start the year off with weekly blog posts on meaningful topics. Over the past week, blog posts on the new prompt have been pouring out into the blogosphere and we’ve rounded them up for you here.

The Prompt: Cultural Differences

The point of this prompt was not really to draw attention to how big the differences are between cultures, but actually to realize how we’re all heavily influenced by the underlying, unspoken “rules” of culture. Understanding why people behave the way they do and empathizing with the values that inform their decisions is an important skill. This week, we used some social science and cultural communication resources, like the 10 variables of culture differences, to inspire our blog posts.

Highlights

It’s not hard to find stand out blog posts among this community of passionate bloggers! Here are just a few examples of great posts from the past week, with a few notes about how you can apply their strategies, too:

  • Here’s a great example of sharing life lessons from abroad with folks who might follow in your footsteps. Also, a good reminder to always link back to your previous blog posts that relate to the new topic! (Liz, Mozambique)
  • This is a fun, photo-centric post from the perspective of a village dog as a way to share cultural differences about pets. (Morgan, South Africa)
  • The focus on one topic and the composition of this post, with super-sized quotes, super-short paragraphs to highlight ideas, bolded headings, plenty of space, etc. make this page really attractive. (Olivia, Madagascar)
  • A “10 Things” tribute list with supporting stories and pictures is a great way to share why you’ll miss your host country. (Mark, Kyrgyzstan)

You’re encouraged to browse the Round Up links listed below for more blog inspiration and interesting cross-cultural topics. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

 

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

16 Jan New Years 2017 Blog Challenge Responses Round Up #2

Welcome to Week Two of our second annual Blog Challenge!

This January, bloggers living around the world are taking the challenge to start the year off with weekly blog posts on meaningful topics. We now have over 90 folks living in about 30 different countries signed up, with more joining every day! One week ago, participants received the following prompt via e-mail:

The Prompt: The Danger of a Single Story

This week’s prompt is based on a popular TED talk by author Chimamanda Adichie (see below). In it, she warns that if we only hear a single story about a person, country or issue, we risk great misunderstanding.

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

 

Along with the prompt, Challenge participants also received some blog tips and a number of creative ideas to approach their response. Over the past week, their posts have been pouring out into the blogosphere and we’ve rounded them up for you here.

Highlights

Once again, there was so many impressive, thoughtful posts this week! Our highlights today focus on the note-worthy formats and techniques that certain bloggers have used in their responses:

 

You’re encouraged browse the Round Up links we’ve listed at the bottom of the post for more ideas. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

 

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

09 Jan New Years 2017 Blog Challenge Responses Round Up #1

Our second annual Blog Challenge begins!

This January, bloggers living around the world are taking the challenge to start the year off with weekly blog posts on meaningful topics. We have over 80 folks living in about 30 different countries signed up, with more joining every day! Roughly one week ago, the first prompt was sent to them via e-mail.

The Prompt: Global Citizenship

Along with the prompt, Challenge participants also received some blog tips and a number of creative ideas to approach their response. Over the past week, their posts have been pouring out into the blogosphere and we’ve rounded them up for you here.

Highlights

These bloggers have impressed us! There was so many great, thoughtful posts this week. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to reflecting on Global Citizenship, so we’d like to focus more on the formats and techniques a few bloggers used.

We invite you to take some time to get to know more of our Blog Challenge bloggers by checking out the Round Up links we’ve included below. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

Join us!

Want to participate? If you’d like to join the Blog Challenge and get the last couple blog post prompts in real time, sign up here(more…)

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29 Dec December Photo Challenge Highlights: #Celebrate

What is the #baphotochallenge?

Photo challenge participants get a prompt emailed to them at the beginning of the month, and follow-up emails periodically in the following weeks. They then share their best photos that follow along with the theme that month. This month’s theme was “Celebrate”.

The goal is to share captivating images online, with meaningful captions, in order to promote cross-cultural understanding in a fun, simple way.

Join our monthly Photo Challenge!

Note: If you are viewing this post by e-mail or feed reader, please click here to see the full post properly formatted.

December’s Photo Challenge

December’s challenge was about all things celebratory. Participants used #celebrate to tag their pictures of celebrations from all over the world. Participants were also challenged to invite friends to join the challenge by tagging people in the caption of their picture. This month’s journey included German holiday cuisine, African wedding festivities, and Christmas tree decorating in Moldova, to name a few. We saw holiday filled landscapes, celebrations of faith, celebrations of change, and celebrations of life. This month was all about challenging bloggers and social media followers to expand their definition of ‘The Holiday Season’ outside their own cultural traditions, holidays, and festivities.

Let’s review the Top 5 photos of December’s ‘Celebrate’ Challenge:

5. Christmas Tree Decorating in Moldova (more…)

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Best Cross-Culture Posts of 2016 | Blogging Abroad

27 Dec Best Cross-Culture Posts of 2016 World-Wide

Our mission at Blogging Abroad is to inspire and equip people living abroad to promote cross-cultural understanding through blogging and social media. This year, we’ve seen so many fantastic examples of cultural exchange online, we decided to round up the best of the best.

 

What makes a great cultural blog post?

 
Here are some of the top things we considered when composing our list:

  • Well-written, easy to read text
  • A positive, respectful outlook and promotion of cross-cultural understanding
  • A cohesive theme, rather than a running diary entry
  • A unique perspective or creative post format
  • Engaging, quality images
  • Interesting titles and headings
  • Responsible crediting of outside sources (including image credits)
  • Appropriate post length – not too long or rambling

 
We applaud each of our finalists for their excellent blog posts. And above all, we hope these examples will spark ideas and encourage more bloggers to join in the meaningful work of unofficial cultural ambassadorship!

Still need more blog post ideas? Check out our Tools & Resources page.


Top Cross-Culture Posts

 
We narrowed our list down to thirteen front runners, each with their own particular strengths and merit. Here they are, in no particular order:

Take a Quick 5-Minute Trip to Moldova by Sara Hoy | SaraJoy (Moldova)

Friends and family can’t always come visit while you’re abroad. Why not take them on a virtual tour? (more…)

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Simple steps to deepen your cross-cultural experience abroad and plan for a more meaningful travel blog that promotes cross-cultural understanding | Blogging Abroad

09 Dec How to Plan for a Meaningful Culture Blog

You’ve got a big vacation planned, or maybe you’ve decided that you want to live and work abroad. You’ve decided that you want to share your experiences online with the rest of the world, either through a blog or even just on your personal social media profiles. But, you don’t just want it to be a travelogue or a diary, you really want to share the culture of the place you’re going.

It can be hard to dive into the culture of a place once you get there, and after you leave, sometimes you don’t feel like you learned enough to really share cross-cultural understanding. You may get to the end of your time abroad and realize that you aren’t sure how to meaningfully talk about what your destination is really like. It becomes really easy to fall back on sharing pretty pictures and writing a travel guide instead of diving deeper.

But, if you start out your adventure with a little extra planning, it’ll make finding those cultural experiences that much easier, and sharing them more meaningful. Here are four things to include in your plans for your time abroad to make sharing culture a breeze.

Festivals and Holidays

The Dance of the Terrifying Deities is one of the main dances of the Thimphu Teschu in Bhutan. Teschus are major religious festivals that take place around the country that involved masked dances performed by monks who enter full meditation during the performance.

The Dance of the Terrifying Deities is one of the main dances of the Thimphu Teschu in Bhutan. Teschus are major religious festivals that take place around the country that involved masked dances performed by monks who enter full meditation during the performance.

Check your calendar and the calendar of where you are going and see when local festivals and holidays are happening. These are the times when the local people are especially proud of their culture and show off and celebrate what is culturally significant, making it much more accessible to visitors. Even if you don’t speak the local language, have a difficult time engaging with strangers or are traveling with a group, festivals and holidays make for a sure fire way of experiencing the local culture.

meaningful-culture-blogThe author and Kumar, her guide, at the highest point on the Annapurna Circuit. At the end of the trek, Kumar gave the author a “khata” at the end of the trek, a tradition in Tibetan Buddhism to mark ceremonial occasions.

Local Guides

Guidebooks can only give you so much information and are no replacement for the people who live in there. Many travelers are resistant to hiring guides and prefer to rely on guidebooks or travel bloggers. However, a guide can provide a window and entry into the local culture. They’ll likely be able to share some local folklore, teach you some of the local language and explain cultural customs to you. Whether it’s a one-hour city walking tour or a multi-week trek in the mountains, spending your money on a guide shows that local culture is valued, can help prevent the march of globalization and injects money directly into the local economy. You may even end up with a new friend.

Local Transport

Motorcycle taxis are common throughout Cameroon. These motos can carry a surprising amount of things on them, including an entire other motorcycle.

Motorcycle taxis are common throughout Cameroon. These motos can carry a surprising amount of things on them, including an entire other motorcycle.

Renting a car, chartering a taxi or even flying around the country can often be a real bargain and make your trip more comfortable. However, such modes of transportation often isolate you from the people of the country you are visiting and prevent cross-cultural exchange. Even if it’s just once on a short trip, travel the way the locals do. You’ll get a real sense of what life is like for people who live there and may help answer some of your cultural curiosities. Push past your discomfort and you’ll end up with a great story to share.

Books

Novels, collections of folklore and memoirs from your destination, ideally by a local author, can be an invaluable way to open up new cultural experiences. Descriptions of family traditions, beloved national dishes and even attitudes and beliefs can come through in books that you may otherwise miss entirely. You’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of the place, beyond what you are experiencing in your day to day life. Head to your local library, pick up a copy at your local bookstore or download an e-book, whichever is most convenient for your lifestyle, and I guarantee it will enhance your experiences.

Have you done any of these things during your time abroad? Tell us how they helped you gain a deeper understanding of the host culture in the comments!


This is a guest post by Christine Bedenis, a well-traveled twenty-something from the Midwest. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Thailand), now living and working in Ghana. She was a winner of Peace Corps’s annual Blog It Home contest in 2014.

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06 Dec Featured Blogger: Gloria of La Pateperro

Every blogger has a unique journey and style to share with the world. It’s our hope that Blogging Abroad can be a safe place for online story-tellers to exchange ideas, hone their craft, and support each other in promoting cross-cultural understanding online. In today’s post, we’d like to introduce you to a blogger from our community who just started her Peace Corps blog five months ago. We interviewed her about her perspective on the challenges and lessons learned so far – maybe you can relate…

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Blogger, Gloria (left), with another member of her Peace Corps cohort at their swearing in ceremony.

Blog URL: http://www.lapateperro.com

Hometown: AR, then NC, but now Texas is home base.

Education/Work Background: I have a Bachelor’s in Spanish, MSW (Masters in Social Work), and am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Peace Corps Placement (location and job): Youth in Development volunteer in Costa Rica.

How long have you been blogging?: I’ve blogged off and on over the years, but I have never been serious about it until now. I started this blog while in Peace Corps training.

What are the top reasons you chose to keep a blog while living abroad? I originally started this blog so my family and friends could keep up with what was going on during my service. However, after doing the Blogging Abroad course and realizing what all my community has to offer, I realized this would be a wonderful educational opportunity for others to learn about Osa, or the Zona Sur in general. This area is rich with biodiversity, indigenous culture, and beautiful souls who have made me feel at home. I want to share all that with anyone who is willing to read!

colegio

The Colegio Tecnico where Gloria volunteers in Costa Rica

Are there any challenges you’ve encountered with blogging while abroad? (If yes, have you found strategies to overcome any of them?) Finding consistent internet has been a huge issue, one that I haven’t quite figured out yet. I got a lot of good ideas from the blogging course, but sometimes I have a hard time putting things into words to adequately explain my heart about this place. I have a few ideas for some smaller posts like: what things cost, transportation, that kind of thing. It’s taking a little longer to put together than I thought it would.

What has been most rewarding about blogging? I’m much more aware of my surroundings in the sense that I’m always looking for things that would be interesting to share with others. It’s helped me start conversations with a lot more people and ask questions that I might have looked over before.

What advice would you give to new bloggers following in your footsteps? I think this experience is teaching me not to compare my blog to other blogs because each one is going to be very different. Also, be patient with yourself and your blog and give yourself time to figure out its personality. It’s likely that it will turn into something that wasn’t expected, and very likely better than was expected!

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