Daniela is the founder of PEPY, an education and youth leadership organization, and PEPY Tours, an educational travel company based in Cambodia. Through that work, she and her team developed LearningService.Info, a website designed to help people rethink volunteer travel. Their educational videos and upcoming book provide a learning-first approach to the growing practice of international volunteer service. Daniela now works at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and lectures an MBA course on high-impact entrepreneurship at Oxford's Said Business School.
What inspired me to travel
In university, I went on Semester at Sea, visiting ten countries including India, Vietnam, and Malaysia. That was my first experience traveling outside of Europe, and I viewed it as an appetizer to the world - a taste of so many countries and cultures - and I was eager for me. After working as a consultant directly after my undergraduate degree, I moved to Japan to teach English for three years before moving to Cambodia.
Most notable achievement
Starting our work in Cambodia isn't something I'm most proud of, as in retrospect, it was naive and arrogant to think I should start an education organization in a country and culture I didn't understand. What I am proud of though is sticking through tough times in the transtion of PEPY from a small fun project run by a few friends to a legitimate organization and cross-cultural team. I am proud that PEPY now has a Cambodian leadership team and that they do work I believe in.
Next on the bucket list
East Timor. I once spoke to a journalist friend of mine who had visited one of the final remaining kingdoms in East Timor - a small kingdom of about 100 people - with one tour guide who is allowed to bring just a few people into their community on any given day. They got to meet the King when he was sweeping the stoop outside his home. I've had images of visiting there, as well as the expanses of beautiful empty beaches, for years...
Advice for new adventure travelers
Ask questions. Ask questions of people who have traveled before you, to learn things about the country and culture outside of the guidebooks. Ask questions of the people you meet when you arrive, to learn more about the culture and how to be appropriate while visiting their home. Ask questions of yourself, when you see yourself making judgements or feeding into stereotypes, to see how you could improve the way your travelling impacts the world.
Why I Embark
To learn about the world, about others, and about myself.