Surfing The Nations has been doing short-term, month long trips to Bangladesh for the past decade. Throughout those years, friendships have been developed, positive community transformation has happened and surfing has taken off in Cox’s Bazar!
Just as any student has a graduation, Surfing The Nations is excited to announce that short term trips to Bangladesh are being graduated into a new season of long term work! While the short term trips will continue, the groundwork for STN Bangladesh will begin.
Our dedicated staff members, Whitney Willett and Ashley Hilton are leaving tomorrow to spend four months in Bangladesh, where they will be completely immersed in the culture they have grown to love.
Their goals are to:
- Learn Bangla through language school
- Gain a greater understanding of Bangladesh: the religion, the women, social issues and needs.
- Get connected to the growth in Bangladesh through different organizations and individuals that are committed to seeing Bangladesh flourish.
They will be living at the language school for the first month and then they will look for a host family to live with. They will also be taking cultural courses on religion, dance, and other related things. Here are a few of their thoughts as they get ready to leave:
Three Things Ashley is excited about:
- Living completely immersed in a foreign country for four months!
- Reconnecting with friends that she met during her stay in April.
- Forming new relationships.
Three Things Whitney is excited about:
- Experiencing Bangladesh for more than one month! (Whitney has been several times for only one month at a time).
- Building relationships with the women.
- Being a sponge and soaking up all that will come her way in the next four months!
Whitney says, ‘It’s going to be exciting! We are going to face a plethora of emotions and have experiences that will shape us for the rest of our lives. I spent seven months in India in 2009-2010, and that has forever shaped who I am and I know that this experience will forever shape the two of us also.’
Their language school starts on August 1st, so they’re off tomorrow to start their journey! We’ll be filling you in on their progress throughout their time, so watch this space!
Today’s blog is an update on the Surfers Coffee Bar Kickstarter campaign! They’re doing great things in the Wahiawa community and campaigning to raise funds for a new espresso machine. Can you help them make it happen?
- a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
- a similarity or identity
- joint ownership or liability
The Surfers Coffee Bar in Wahiawa has seen every one of these definitions of community take form through the generous support of others. Our local and global community has shared in our goal, in our identity as a coffee shop that exists to give back, and taken ownership by investing in our future. We have seen over $11,000 raised out of our $15,000 goal! Now, we only have 6 days left of the Kickstarter campaign. We are still in need of the last few thousand dollars to make the necessary purchases to keep our work in the community going. Please take some time to check out the campaign, give what you can, and tell your friends about it! Thank you for your help!
Your Surfers Coffee Bar Ohana
*As defined by the Oxford dictionary
One of the most intriguing things to do in a foreign country is to go shopping; browsing through the local shops, seeing what the people stock their homes with, trying new foods and drinks along the way, and of course, looking for little treasures to bring back. It’s these little things that we carry back in our suitcase that remind us of the things we loved about the place we had to leave.
At STN, we are exposed to all kinds of new foods, smells, clothing, simply from what people bring back from their trips. But with only one carry-on bag for an entire month, what do people choose to take up their precious space?
In today’s blog, our creative arts producer, Kirsten Roskos shares what treasures she picked up when she was in Bangladesh with the team in April. Enjoy getting a little glimpse of a Bengali market, and maybe make a shopping list for yourself if you are headed that way soon!
Today, we are giving you a look at the bookmarks bar of staff member Jeremy Seick. Jeremy is a proud native of the PNW, specifically representing Oregon. At STN, he is the Outreach Director and heads up the Feeding The Hungry program, bringing food and encouragement to thousands of people each week. In between long days of outreach, these are some of his favorite sites to keep up with. -EJ
1.) One of my top bookmarks is Deer Lodge. Not only because it is run by a close buddy of mine, Matt Jones, but also because he has a keen ear for all that is rad and authentic in the current music scene. The site includes music, reviews and interviews and even some exclusive video content. If you love music it needs to be a go to. Pitchfork is another site I frequent for updates and happenings on relevant music.
2.) Another top bookmark is The Zombie Apocalypse. Let’s face it, we are far overdue for a Zombie Apocalypse. Be responsible about this. If you don’t how to live off the grid or the proper way to terminate a zombie, you aren’t going to last a minute out there. Don’t be ‘that guy’. Study up and survive out there.
3.) Finally, I love checking out Poler Stuff. For the adventurer in you, Poler has all the gear you could ever need for your epic weekend in the wild. They also have a killer blog that tracks their team’s adventures to some of the most remote and beautiful places on earth (and to top it all off, they are based out of the Northwest)!
Surfing is infamous for being chosen by kids over school since anyone can remember (probably since its existence!) And who can blame them? Of course, surfing is more fun than sitting in a classroom hour after hour. But the freedom that is felt when skipping class to surf, crashes down as the kids go into the ocean of adulthood; when their lack of education hinders their ability to live productive and debt-free lives.
One non-profit organization, Balikbayod (Returning Wave) is revolutionizing the way kids approach education and surfing by creating a program that incorporates both. When you break down Balikbayod, bayod is Suriganon (language of the island of Siargao) for ‘wave’ and balik means ‘to return. Balik both reflects the Filipiono-American founders who return to their island, and the culture of giving back that they are committed to bring with them.
The concept of bringing opportunities for surfing to the kids of the Philippines came when Balikbayod founder, Lynn, was visiting her native country. She noticed that nearly everyone enjoying the Philippine’s waves were not local Filipinos, but tourists. Lynn wanted to see the kids enjoy the wealth of their country’s waves. One of the kids asked her to bring them a board when she came back. Knowing that she could not bring a board for just one child, she started to think of ways to make surfing possible for the kids in Siargao.
Through a team of hardworking volunteers, an after-school board borrowing program was put together at the surf break known as ‘Cloud 9’. The dream of seeing the kids of Siargao have access to boards was realized, but there was the age-old problem of the kids choosing to surf over their studies!
The teachers on Siargao island sought out a partnership with Balikbayod, and together they came up with a plan to keep the kids in the water and the classroom.
The kids are not allowed to attend the program unless they are confirmed by the teachers to be attending school and maintaining good grades. If they’ve already dropped out of school, they have the opportunity to use the boards if they continue their schooling through the alternative learning system. The after-school program instills a culture of sharing and mentorship, as the kids learn to share all of the boards, make repairs when needed, and the older kids teach the younger ones how to surf. Surfing The Nations has had the chance to see the local groms stoked and thriving through this powerful combination of ambition in and out of the water that Balikbayod promotes.
Balikbayod has found a way to not only integrate education into a surf lifestyle, but make it a primary part of it: They have made education the currency of surfing for the kids on Siargao. This system is changing the mindsets of kids and teaching them how to value their education and take care of each other. It’s teaching them to honor, care for and take ownership of the opportunities given them, whether it’s a homework assignment or a surfboard. Balikbayod’s motto is, “Supporting education first, through the love of surfing.” One can only imagine how much of a positive impact this is going to have on future generations of Filipinos.
While there are team members running the board borrowing program at Cloud 9, there is a whole team facilitating the acquiring and sending of the boards in the Bay Area of California. The community in San Francisco comes alongside Balikbayod, from donating boards, to participating in board repairing parties and fundraising events. If you’re in the San Fran area, make sure to check out their art fundraiser at the I-Hotel, July 28th and August 25th! Check out their website for more ways to get involved!
Like most people, we love having coffee to start our day off, or to accompany a book, meeting, or chat with a friend. It’s a simple pleasure in life; a companion to your daily grind. We at Surfing The Nations are fortunate to have the amazing Surfers Coffee Bar right next to us that is completely non-profit and volunteer-run. All of the STN staff has had a chance to volunteer in it and seen the way that The Surfers Coffee Bar has become a haven for many community members and a place where hospitality and kindness is cultivated. Read below to find out more about what the SCB is all about and how you can help them in their kickstarter campaign to continue the good work.
The most loved photos that are taken on Surfing The Nations international trips are the ones where there is an unexpected clash of worlds: where the little boy in Jordan is skateboarding on Roman ruins, or a camel is strapped down with surfboards in the middle of the desert. Surrounded by different environments, to find something familiar is a rare treasure, and often it is those seemingly small things that end up building friendships.
Surfing The Nations connects with people from all walks of life on the common ground of surfing, and second to that comes sharing a cup of coffee (or tea!) with those we meet. For whatever reason, there’s something that bonds us when sitting down over a warm drink: doors are open, hospitality is extended and strangers become friends.
Surfers Coffee Bar shares a similar vision as Surfing The Nations in using their passions to give back to the community.
The Surfers Coffee Bar wasn’t always in a welcoming area. The strip where the building is now was once home to seedy businesses that caused people to avoid the street altogether. The people behind SCB had a vision to take a dark, cigarette-stained bar and make it into a welcoming coffee bar; not only serving up coffee, but providing a place where the community can study, meet, relax, and enjoy the live music on Wednesdays and Fridays. Their motto ‘More Than A Cup Of Coffee’ reflects the fact that they’re a non-profit whose earnings go towards the humanitarian work in Hawaii and internationally through Surfing The Nations. Even the tips are used for the furthering of humanitarian programs! Another way that SCB gives back is that the coffee beans they use in their drinks are all fair-trade and benefitting the local communities that the coffee is coming from.
The Surfers Coffee bar has been all about giving back and for almost two years now.
Now they are asking for you to in turn, give back to keep it going! Right now until July 26th, the Surfers Coffee Bar is running a Kickstarter campaign to purchase a new espresso machine! Things get old and everything needs replacing eventually, and this hard-working machine is seeing its last days. It’s a simple thing to pitch in to help purchase an espresso machine, but it means that the doors of Surfers Coffee Bar will stay open and ready to serve countless people.
Check em out! http://surferscoffee.com/donate/
Today’s blog is from an extraordinary woman, Carla Hanes. This year, she and her husband and their three young boys are embarking on a life changing trip to Bali, Indonesia. It would be easy for this Alabama family to find a much easier trip to go on, especially with their youngest son being 4 years old, but Carla knows that this is an invaluable experience. Here, she shares with us why it’s important for her family to do this, and what she’s experienced through the process thus far.
The Hanes household is officially on count down: Taylor, Carla, Jack, Luke and Tay have 28 days to raise $10,000 so that we can join the 15th annual Surfing the Nations trip to Bali! The Bali adventure is a dream that’s been a long time coming. My husband, Taylor and I, have talked, planned and dreamed of taking our boys on an outreach trip for years. Jack and Luke are 9 year old twins and Tay is 4.
It’s true that taking children under a certain age into foreign countries can seem a bit daunting. When the voices of those challenges seem a little louder than the excitement and reward of the adventure, I’m reminded that anything of significant and lasting value requires a leap, a risk, an embracing of the unknown. The other night as we were tucking our boys into bed, Luke said, “Mom, I’m excited because I know that we are going to get to help people and change their lives, but most of all, our lives are going to be changed.”
There are also the life lessons that have come from having to write support letters and hold car washes to raise the needed money. Learning the value of earning money to spend it not on oneself but on others takes the idea of selflessness to a new level – especially in the mind of a 9 year old. It has been especially rewarding to watch Jack and Luke’s friends come alongside and support them with their time, energy and allowance. These are the life experiences that shape a boys’ character – these are the lessons that remind us all to take the focus off ourselves and put it on others – when we do that, we are all nourished and we all grow.
We look forward to sharing stories of our adventures in Bali – not just this summer but for many to come! -CH
If you would like to help the Hanes family reach their goal and be a part of sending them to Bali, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and put in the subject line ‘Hanes Family.’
An organization is first of all, people.
At Surfing The Nations, people from several nations, backgrounds and influences come, bringing with them a countless number of interests.
One thing that we all have in common is that we all strive to live inspiring lives, and thus have our specific sources of inspiration.
In this new blog series, On My Bookmarks Bar we introduce an STN staff member and their favorite websites that they’ve bookmarked and continually frequent to keep their creative juice flowing.
We hope you find a few new favorites of your own, and get inspired!
On My Bookmarks Bar
Kirstin Anderson, Graphic Designer
From Naples, Florida, USA
1.) For all things design, I love to get inspiration from this site:
2.) Radiolab is my source of food for thought. The podcasts are full of creative and interesting stories based on science. I like to mix it up and listen to this instead of having music on while I work.
3.) I use these two websites to keep up on upcoming concerts. BAMP keeps me in the know with what shows are coming to Hawaii, and with songkick, you can search for shows in cities across the globe.
4.) I love getting new music from the Roxy Blog. Roxy is a brand that reflects the surf lifestyle and I can always find something I like from their picks.
5.)Refinery29 is one of my favorites to keep up on the trends in fashion.
feature photo: cultofmac.com
Let me set the stage for you: Crowds numbering over 1,000. Flowers falling from helicopters like snow in the sky. Oversized photos of teenagers hoisted into the air. Leis made of flowers and money held in outstretched arms. What is this? A Hawaiian high school graduation, of course!
I was incredibly blessed to be able to attend a friend’s high school graduation this Spring. His name is David Dawson. David is one of the most caring and generous men that I know. He gives more than he takes and is always willing to extend an open hand. I met David over a year ago while I was a part of STN’s Service Team. We met in a hole. No, not a metaphoric hole, but a real dirt and mud one. I was digging an eight foot pit in order to get to a blocked sewage pipe and that is when David arrived on the scene. He had come STN to volunteer with us and thankfully, was there just in time. We talked quite a bit that day, as you tend to do in a confined space, and really got to know one another.
Over the next few months I got to know David quite well and was really impressed with his character and work ethic. We were doing hard work at the time, but David never complained or shirked his duty; he persevered and continued to serve STN and his community, Wahiawa.
David has lived on Ohai Street since he was eight years old. Living in a place notorious for violence and drug activity, a child’s future on this street often has far too many dark options. But David knew who he wanted to be. To stay focused in the face the temptation of drugs, fighting, and vandalism was a challenge, but he fought against the drift and used his football and volunteer work to stay on course. Going to college has always been a goal for him, and a dream for his family as well.
Through hard work and dedication, David graduated high school. His name was called and he went up on stage to receive his diploma, smiling the entire time. Not only did David graduate, but he also received a full tuition scholarship to the University of Hawaii, Hilo! I am incredibly proud of David. He put his mind to it and succeeded as a result. Dedication and determination are truly the ingredients in the recipe for success.
Thank you David, for being a true friend and for all your work in the community! ” -CJ
Header photo credit: western.edu
Surfing The Nations bids farewell to its long-term staff member, Chris Rehrer. After eight years, three cities and over 15 countries with STN, he has left his mark on the character of this organization and impacted many lives around the world. Read to end to see where he’s off to next (ok, it’s Australia!) and all the fun bits in between to get the insider’s look at what it means to be a long-term staffer with STN. -GP
GP: What was your very first full day at STN like?
CR: I arrived on June 15, 2005 at Honolulu airport. I borrowed a cell phone to call the office (I’m old enough to not have owned a cell phone by the age of 21!). I was told to look for two girls driving a white van: Kristin Flynn – who would later be my co-worker for years – was one of the girls to pick me up. She put an orchid lei around my neck and threw me in the car, telling me how much I was going to love Surfing The Nations. We got on the highway to go to Kalihi valley, where STN was then located, when our car sputtered and ran out of gas. We sat in the middle of the intersection, so my first official STN duty was to push a 15-passenger van out of the middle of the road with the other girl in the car, my new little Brazilian friend Sophia. About 25 minutes later, the oldest man in the world to me at that time, Bobby Baggett (who is still with STN!), came down with a gas can to help us out. This was the start of my amazing adventure with STN.
Once we arrived at the property, I was greeted by a team packing for their trip to Indonesia. I met Hanna who was from Switzerland, David (Davo) Strigl who was from Florida, Sam Culver, Shane and Brad from Florida and some others. As I was unpacking, I got this crazy feeling. “What the heck am I doing?” I thought. “I just moved on a one-way ticket to an island in the middle of the ocean!” I soon realized that this was going to either be a terrible decision or a great one but I needed to simply embrace it for what it was and fight the urge to immediately buy a ticket back home.
In the afternoon my friend Petey Helenius, who had convinced me to go to Surfing The Nations with him, arrived and we talked about the adventure ahead. Pretty soon someone invited us to go to the beach to surf. We headed out to Kewalos and had a blast! I remember being surprised by the power of the waves even on the South Shore compared to what I had been used to in California. Later that night, we arrived back at STN where we were having an orientation for the Indonesia trip. I met some people who became my first local friends in Hawaii. They took us around over the next couple of days and taught us about what it was to be a Haole and if someone calls me a kook it’s probably not a good thing. I learned what a moke and titta were as well as how not to speak pidgin!
That was my first full day. The adventure started out amazing and has continued to be an incredible journey. I wouldn’t trade the past eight years of my life with Surfing The Nations, for anything. They are the best years of my life hands down! I will be forever changed from that first day.
GP: What’s the most exciting country you’ve been to with STN?
CR: It would probably be Iran. As soon as Tom and Kristin Flynn and I decided that we were going, people decided to tell us why it was impossible. We were told that we couldn’t get visas as Americans. We were told that if we did get in, we would be harassed by customs officials and put in prison. We were told that it was foolish and that we should look for a better time when it was safer to enter the country. After all of these warnings, we decided to go for it anyway. It was an amazing journey. We had no problems. Kristin and Nikki Beck went one way around the world from the US and Tom and I went through the Middle East. We stopped in Bahrain and Quatar and arrived in Tehran where our official guides met us. We drove through the night and woke up the next morning to fresh snow on the mountains. Throughout the next nine days we made amazing relationships with our guides, their wives, their families and friends. We were welcomed back and we met some of the friendliest people in the world. Everyone was blessed and curious as to why Americans would be coming to Iran when Iran and the USA were obviously so at odds politically.
I think that the risk we took to go there during a time when people said it was stupid, showed the Iranian people that we were just people too, that we didn’t hate Iran, that we loved people. We wanted to be genuine and kind and share life with people all around the world, no matter their religion, ethnic background or nationality. It was one of the greatest trips of my life. The cool thing about going where people aren’t willing to go is that they want to hear about what happened when you went. Tom and Kristin and I had so many opportunities to come and share what our experience was with people when we came back. People always want to be on the cutting edge of things but often times lack the ability to push themselves over. We had pushed the envelope and returned unscathed and now have the stories to tell personally. We lived the adventure on that trip and that’s why I love STN because it’s all about living the life that others want to live but often need an example to follow.
GP: At Surfing The Nations, you get to meet a lot of people and live with a lot of people. Over the past eight years, who has been your best and/or worst and/or weirdest roommate?
CR: My best roommate was Andrew Carrier. He and I spent a couple of years together after my friend Peter Helenius left STN. I liked that we could both be either clean or dirty, which meant that often our room would look super clean and we would both be stoked and often it would look trashed and we would both be stoked!
I think the weirdest roommate I had was Niklas Eriksson because he had a whole closet full of strange moisturizers and lotions. I always told him he should open up a salon or something. He might be the prettiest man I’ve ever met. If I ever have skincare questions there’s no way I’m going to the doctor, I’m just calling up Nik!
GP: What are the things you’ll miss most about STN?
CR: I’m going to miss the friendships and the culture of people who want to live radically. People here are striving to do really great things for the world. I know that this is not unique to STN, but I’ve found it in this family that I have been a part of for eight years. STN is a family; it’s not just a job, so, in a sense, I’m leaving my family and going into the unknown. I will miss traveling the world and meeting 150 new roommates every year. I’ll miss the late night conversations and early morning surf sessions. I’ll miss the adventurous personalities who come through. I’ll miss Swedes arguing about whether spanking is right or wrong, why it’s illegal to fish with live worms. I’ll miss the melting pot of nations who come through Hawaii and STN. I’ll miss the weather! I grew up at STN. I became the person who I am today because of the trials and the joys that happen in that place. I’m 100% positive I would not be the man that I am today with out the experiences of traveling the world with Tom Bauer and having him show me the kind of life that I want to lead. If we’re really all going to just die and take nothing with us when we’re gone then we might as well spend all of our time giving to others while we are here. That is what I’m going to miss about STN but hopefully I’ll take it with me wherever I go and instead of a subtraction it will become a multiplication of what Tom and Cindy Bauer started 16 years ago.
GP: What’s next for you?!
CR: I am going to work with an organization called XXX Church. My first assignment with them is in Australia, so I’m headed there June 1st to start the next adventure!
To keep up with Chris Rehrer, check out his website www.chrisrehrer.com