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What To Buy In The Philippines

The Philippines is famous for its world-class break ‘Cloud 9′ on Siargao Island, secret surf spots and breathtaking nature. As amazing as the memories and the photos are, when the time comes for you to board that plane back to reality, you’ll want to bring back some things to remember your epic surf trip by (and maybe some stuff for those back home that couldn’t join in the adventure). Here, I’ll show you some non-cheesy souvenirs you can pick up in this amazing country:

1. Sarong- If you travel a lot, you know how valuable it is to have both a versatile item with you that also doesn’t take much space in a suitcase! Sarongs are perfect for beach days when you don’t want to carry a bulky towel and can serve as a towel, pillow, scarf, or super flimsy blanket when you’re traveling. One night I missed my flight and had to crash at the Rome airport. I was in the midst of traveling for a few days, so my sarong served as both a towel AND a blanket. Needless to say, it’s my new best friend.

2. Goggles-  The Philippines is country made up of 7,000 islands, so the Filipino people have been watermen for centuries and made the gear to go along with their lifestyle. These goggles are about as simple as they can get, with a plastic coil, wooden frames, plastic lenses and thread. Yet they are unique and represent an innovative people. Grab some of these to bring back, as well as the handmade wooden fins they use to swim with!

3. Hammock- Not so much a traditional lazing hammock as it is a swinging hammock, these are everywhere on the trees on Siargao Island. The kids pile on them and swing as high as they can, and even though they don’t look so comfortable, you can definitely still find a sweet spot and get a good nap in. Don’t try to fit more than one adult in them though- one of the funniest memories we’ve had of our trip was of a hammock snapping from that very thing!

4. Cloud 9 candy bar- The surf break itself is named after this favorite candy bar, so you know it’s got to be good! Most people compare it to the taste of a Snickers bar. These are great gifts for your family and friends back home.

5. Shells (and things made out of shells)- The shells on the beaches of the Philippines are unreal! They are perfectly formed and covering the beach wherever you look. It’s easy to find some colorful, fun jewelry to have as a memory and for gifts.

6. Hand carved slingshots- I wouldn’t go into battle with one of these, but the simplicity of these slingshots are what makes them special. I have many memories of walking down the sandy roads of the village and seeing the kids playing with them. They represent  both the playfulness and resourcefulness the Filipino people.

7 and 8) Shirt and bag from ARTWORK-  On the way to our remote destination of Siargao, we had to wait a long time for our boat, and most of that waiting was done in shopping malls in Cebu. If you’ve ever been to a shopping mall in Asia, you know how overwhelming it can be, so we were fortunate enough to happen upon this rad store. ARTWORK is an 18 year old company that started out as a manufacturer that specialized in silk screen t-shirts but has now become a popular T-shirt retailer with complete clothing lines. We had no problem killing time as we looked at the many graphic designs influenced by art, music and pop culture.Some of my favorites were graphics that were made with masterpiece paintings morphed with different shapes and colors. From their bags down to their dressing rooms, ARTWORK is full of fresh, unique design. Their website definitely doesn’t do them justice, but check it out at artwork.ph

Cover photo credit: brommel.net

STN is going to Turkey!

Surfing The Nations will be leaving for the middle eastern country of Turkey this November/December! This pioneer trip is an exciting new step toward bringing the message of “Surfers Giving Back” to the world!

Follow us on Instagram (#stngo) and Facebook as we go to Istanbul, Alanya, the Black Sea and beyond.

 We will be surfing the Mediterranean and the Black Sea,visiting orphanages and surf clubs, seeing the Hagia Sophia, the Blue mosque and exploring one of the largest indoor bazaars, the Grand Bazaar.
As the pioneer team goes, we will see how we can meet needs, change lives and be changed!
Do you have extra cold-water surf gear? Wet suits or wax, we will use it!
Contact: go@surfingthenations.com for more info and check out our website!

 

New Shirt Campaign Brought To You By Movement 52!

We are stoked to announce that Movement 52 has chosen Surfing The Nations as one of their charities to raise funds and awareness for!

Movement 52 is an organization of that has an amazing vision to raise awareness and funds for one charity a week in an effort to be a  ‘catalyst for generosity’. They aim to take complex problems all over the world, and help find solutions with a simple formula: 1) Identify a need 2) Raise Funds 3) Repeat.

How do they raise funds? This is the part where it gets fun for all of us!

They design a few different shirts for a different company each week, and then sell the shirts, with a percentage of the profits going to that week’s charity.

That means, for one week ONLY, they’ll be selling their shirts with three different designs with our logo, on 8-12 different shirts (and just in time for fall you can buy the first ever STN hoodie through the campaign)!

For every shirt purchased 6-8 dollars will go to fund Surfing The Nations International outreach efforts in countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, The Philippines and The Middle East!

It’s running for one week, starting Wednesday, October 9th through October 16th. You can purchase the shirts through their website http://movement52.org/

 

 

 

Check out how M52 works here:

 

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Summer Recap!

Fall is officially here! Some people know it’s fall by the changing of the temperature or the leaves changing color (or the return of pumpkin spice everything) but at STN we know it’s fall because of the new arrivals! We’ve started a new SLS class with five new students from Switzerland and the United Sates and this weekend we welcome 35 new interns from all over the globe!

Alas, although the season has changed, summer is not soon forgotten! Summer 2013 was one for the books. To give you some proof of that, we’ve put together a little video for your enjoyment.

Thanks to all who participated in the trips, internships, and summer challenge!

Travel Via Friends


This generation uses social networking to involve their friends in everything they do, from sharing what they had for lunch to their wedding photos. Social media has been instrumental in breaking down walls between people, cultures and distance to make communication almost limitless. If social networking influences so much of our lives, what could this mean for traveling? Two friends considered this question and came up with an idea that could revolutionize travel. Traveling not by map or guidebook or hit-and-miss couch surfs, but travel via friends.

Krissa and Daljeet met in Hong Kong as high schoolers. As ‘TCKs’ or Third-Culture Kids (a person that has spent a significant amount of time growing up in a different culture than their parents), they naturally built up a group of friends from all over the world. For Krissa and Daljeet, the world was wide open and accessible through their network of friends spread across the globe. Recognizing that others shared their wanderlust, they decided to find a way for people to have this powerful network, without having to live overseas for years! The vision was to enable people to access the world on a budget, while making friends and staying in a trustworthy environment. From their vision came the amazing new traveling network Friends of Friends Travel (FOF Travel).

FOF Travel is a website where travelers can connect with people they already know and their friends (the friends of friends or “FOFs”) to exchange travel services at no cost.Being travelers themselves, the founders of FOF Travel understand a traveler’s needs, concerns and expectations. Some of the services offered are: free accommodation (“Roof”), storage space (“Locker”), travel tips and information (“Guide”), or something as simple as meeting up with a trustworthy local for a coffee (“Coffee”). The rare and wonderful thing about FOF Travel is that your connections are never random strangers; you are always interacting with a friend of a friend. FOF Travel is able to provide a place of trust that is invaluable when going to an unfamiliar place. That’s something that no other travel network provides.

 

 
 
Safety concerns aside, having a local to connect with ensures you get the best experience possible on your journey. Surfing The Nations always aims to live as close to the local culture as possible during our international outreaches. There truly is nothing like spending the evening eating dinner on your new friend’s rooftop in the Middle East, getting to experience traditional ceremonies in Indonesia, or explore places that are known only by the locals. These experiences are not bought with tickets. They are gifts birthed out of friendships that are formed when we take the risk to enter into a world completely foreign to us. Friends Of Friends Travel has three pillars of their philosophy: Trust, Philanthropy, and Wanderlust. One of the Founders, Daljeet Singh says, “This is the kind of travel we want to share with everyone else. When we, as TCKs, add our global network onto FOF, someone only has to add ONE of us as a friend, and suddenly they’ll have access to a whole global network of people that they can trust. It’s about traveling the way TCKs do – it’s our way of life.”

For those of you who haven’t gotten your passport out for a while, or have been dreaming about packing that suitcase or getting that ticket, there are no more excuses! To get started, simply sign up with FOF Travel for FREE, and start building your network. Then, you can start making your connections and getting plans set into motion for your trip! You can also choose to upgrade to the hugely beneficial Premium Club Membership to get access to exclusive travel deals from some of the world’s best travel providers. We can’t wait to see how Friends Of Friends Travel will empower this generation to go! Check it out!

Indonesia: An Instagram Reel

The Indo team is back and still getting over jet-lag, but they had an amazing trip this year! Approximately 40 team members from Sweden, Canada and the United States spent three weeks traveling through the islands of Bali, Lombok, Nusa Lembogan, Gili, and Sumbawa. We’ll be bringing you more stories and updates soon! Here’s some of their instagram highlights. Enjoy!

 

KUTA

LOMBOK

SCAR REEF

LOMBOK TREASURES

LOMBOK

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR, INDO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

STN Bangladesh Launching!

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:

  1. Learn Bangla through language school
  2. Gain a greater understanding of Bangladesh: the religion, the women, social issues and needs.
  3. 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! 

What To Buy In Bangladesh

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!

 

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Balikbayod- Turning Education Into The Currency of Surf

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!

 

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STN Down Under!

Today’s post is from one of our internship staff members, Andy Keefe. Andy, a native Aussie just spent some time in his home country, promoting STN and connecting and encouraging people whenever possible. We are stoked to have some more Aussies (and kiwis!) at STN in the near future! 

“This last month I have been so privileged to be part of the very first Australia promotional and recruiting trip with Surfing the Nations, nd to put it in so many words, I was frothing!!!!  Accompanying me for various parts along the way were Chris Rehrer and Australia’s very own Ame Schadel.

Throughout this time, we were fortunate enough to meet so many amazing organisations, churches, schools, and business’ which were more than happy to get involved and help us spread the story of the good that is happening in Wahiawa and other parts of the world.

Before any of the PR work began, I thought I’d take the liberty to head up towards my old friend Noosa, a long time favourite surf spot. After surfing a couple of hours at Noosa, one of the most crowded waves you’ll ever surf, I noticed some kids dropping in on everyone in brightly coloured vests and as I investigated more closely, I saw that they were from a local school. Then an idea struck me like someone just turned on a switch; Australia is full of little blonde haired grommets who love to surf, and travel, and most of all are adventurous cheeky youngsters. From there I started making phone calls to the school where they came from to try and talk to the surf school teacher. Yes that’s right, in Australia you can take surfing as a subject. As soon as I mentioned to the lady on the phone that I saw them in the water, you could tell she was thinking, ‘Oh no,what have they done’. After getting in touch with the right person, I was stoked to find out that these kids were just about to go on a surfing outreach trip to Bali as the school excursion for the year. Before long, Chris and I got the chance to go to the school and stoke these kids out on their trip just days before they left. I have a feeling we might be seeing some of these kids in Hawaii someday, changing the world.

Next stop was Easterfest. Easterfest is a huge Christian music festival which, of course, occurs over the Easter weekend, where somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 people and make the yearly pilgrimage to the rural city of Toowoomba. Surfing the Nations setup a small booth where we talked story for three days and shared with hundreds of people a little bit about what STN is about. One of the greatest things I got out of this experience was that I had my eyes opened to so so many other amazing organisations which support absolutely fantastic causes. I mean if you ever start to think that this world is a bad place, you just need to take a look around and you’ll realise also how much good is actually happening in the world.

Amongst all the connections made, the individuals visited, and the places we spoke at, I was most of all blessed just to hear people’s stories and take time to inspire and encourage them. It really is amazing how sometimes we can just be connected to the right people, at the right times, in the right place.

Overall, the recruiting trip was a huge success, and much Aloha was shared with the Australian people. In fact, even after a long day I met a girl from New Zealand who we invited to come to Hawaii to join us. I must have been delusional from standing up for 13 hours, but nonetheless, the invitation was made, and we may have another kiwi on our hands!”

-Andy

 

Chris, Ame and Andy at Easter Fest

 

The kiwi/aussie peace treaty is made!

 Cover photo: Student Universe