MUNDO EXCHANGE ORIGIN, MISSION & GOALS
Mundo Exchange is an international non-profit cultural exchange organization (EIN#87-078132) officially designated in 2006. Our mission is to improve cross cultural understanding while supporting local community drive projects and individuals through volunteerism and donations. Current volunteers and local community-driven projects are found in Thailand and Guatemala.
Mundo was conceived in the early 1980s when it’s two founders, Dalyn Simmons and Joan Williams, were traveling throughout Asia and Central and South America. They listened to community leaders and local members talk about their dreams for their children, families and community. Over and over again the directors were asked to share the skills they had the privilege of learning because of their access to a free and excellent educational system. Community leaders also asked for monetary assistance to enhance local social services such as community health centers and schools; as well as scholarships to send their children to either the local school, or more often to schools in neighboring, larger cities where teachers are better trained and expectations for learning are higher. The two Mundo members did what they could, but realized that it is the power of many people working together that would sustain efforts to enhance the lives of those living in marginalized communities. “Demarginalization through solidarity and sharing of skills and resources,” was their motto.
In the early 1990s Joan was completing her doctorate in clinical psychology. She had the great honor of accompanying a group of Maya women who lived in one of the highland communities most impacted by the 36 plus years of violence in Guatemala (see Mayan Women, 2002). These women, in concert with Brinton Lykes, PhD, a gracious community psychologist from Boston College, had been awarded a grant from the Soros foundation to complete a photo voice project. This project focused on enhanced voice and empowerment for the Maya women, as well as an opportunity for them to design strategies and projects that would make the world better for their families. Joan assisted with the on-the-ground activities, which included many opportunities to walk to small communities where the civil war had wreaked havoc. People living in these small communities had survived massacres of up to 250 people (mostly women and children). On several occasions the director was asked to be the community psychologist on international forensic teams that accompanied community members as they recounted the stories of horror and survival. Together, they painstakingly dug up mass graves where the bodies of their loved ones had been quickly buried during the 1980s. Often an impossible task, the members hoped to identify the remains of each loved one so they could bring the body home to the ancestral graveyard. The work changed the director’s world-view and solidified the importance of humanitarian aid through international volunteerism and social service support.
When the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit South Eastern Asia, Dalyn flew to Thailand to help students, orphans and other survivors in the tsunami area. She learned much about Thai ways and life by volunteering with for-profit companies throughout the region. Eventually it was decided that nonprofit assistance was the best way to help to keep all of the donations in the countries that needed the funds.
Cementing our desire to run our own organization, we completed the complicated paperwork necessary to become an official non-profit organization in the eyes of the United States Government. We also agreed that no Mundo founder or CEO could financially benefit from our small nonprofit.
Since that time, Mundo Exchange has grown in membership, but it still remains a small organization, dedicated to providing high quality, personalized volunteer opportunities and services in coordination with local partners. Mundo has hosted numerous international and local volunteers and interns in Thailand, Guatemala and, briefly, in the Dominican Republic. We are committed to cultural exchange and humanitarian aid that is driven by local voices and that is culturally specific and respectful. In Thailand we partner with Laekplean Lokgatat, a charity organization in Isaan, NE Thailand. In Guatemala we partner with ACEFOMI, a Mayan Guatemalan NGO. Both organizations focus on bettering the lives of their local citizens through education and enhanced community social services (e.g., education, health, sanitation, legal, etc.).
Volunteers and sponsors can participate in a multitude of ways, including sponsoring individuals who are pursuing educational dreams and locally driven community development projects and/or through volunteering and interning on site in Thailand. In Guatemala, sponsoring students and projects or visiting and volunteering on a Mundo group volunteer trip is available. (Currently we do not have individual volunteering opportunities in Guatemala due to the high sensitivity of the community and the need for a team guide who has extensive knowledge of Maya culture and language.) As stated, we work to match your skills with the needs of our local communities. Included in the experience is an opportunity to learn about local culture, history, natural resources and language.
As a volunteer, typically you will work at your site Monday through Friday. Weekends are for exploring, visiting with local friends, relaxing or you can choose from a variety of excursions, including visitations of temples and historical sites, hiking in local parks, bicycle touring of agricultural areas, etc. We are always happy to arrange travel to specific sites. Please see our site to learn more about possible outings and cross cultural excursions.
Learn more at: http://mundoexchange.org, write firstname.lastname@example.org or call in Thailand 660899658762
Meet the Mundo Exchange Volunteering Team
Mundo Exchange is a partnership organisation which works alongside and for grassroots non-profits native to the host country. This allows for work deemed important by local people to be the main drive for volunteer projects whilst still maintaining an international charter of community development ideals which are globally relevant. Below are our team members and those who assist us in our efforts to increase the quality of life for people living in pockets of need.
Mundo Exchange USA
Founder, Mundo Exchange, California, USA
Terry Meyers besides being a Mundo founder has also worked in the field of bilingual early childhood education, as a mentor for new ESL teachers in the Public School District of Oakland, California, and is photographer and part of the Guide Dogs Association.
Terry is bilingual in Spanish and English. Over the years she has become a well-appreciated photographer of children’s issues as well as a renowned cook. She loves animals, people and traveling to new places around the world.
Terry overseas and coordinates the development of Mundo Exchange and it’s projects from her home.
Coordinator / International Director, Mundo Exchange, Thailand & Oregon, USA
Dalyn Simmons is also a founder of Mundo Exchange. She has worked and lived in many areas of the world, frequently in areas of conflict and economic depression.
Her professional experience includes teaching in the areas of education, international studies and the arts. She has served as an ombudsman for elders and the disabled, volunteered in the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and North America. Other work experiences include curriculum design, program design, teaching, project based education and many community development projects.
Dalyn works primarily with Mundo Exchange in Thailand and oversees project development and coordination of volunteers.
Joan Williams has lived and worked in Thailand, West Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America, and Europe. While spending years travelling and working as an international mountain climbing guide, Joan frequently observed the gross inequities that exist within communities around the globe. After leaving the world of climbing Joan immersed herself in causes that support social justice and cross-cultural understanding.
Professionally she is a developmental psychologist in Portland, Oregon and carries an expertise in violent conflict resolution within international communities. Joan has spent several years working within the Ixil Triangle of Guatemala. Working with local Mayan constituents, she continues to support community-based projects focused on enhanced educational and mental health services for all community members.
Joan provides assistance to MundoExchange’s development and financial and administrative duties.
Laekplian Lokgatat Thailand
There are many Thais that have and continue to belong to Mundo’s NGO Thailand partner, Laekplian Lokgatat.
Laekplian Lokgatat Association, Bueng Kan, Thailand
Nalinrat comes from the Bueng Kan area in Northeast Thailand and has lived and worked throughout the country. Nalinrat has contributed immensely to the shape, scope and focus of the goals and projects of Mundo Exchange. She is eager to bring volunteers to Thailand to work together on projects including English language acquisition in the local communities.
Currently she provides assistance to Mundo Exchange in project design, administrative tasks, and Thai language instruction for staff and volunteers. Nalinrat has backgrounds in business, education, alternative medicine and Thai massage.
Nalinrat is excited to bring attention to her home of Northeast Thailand, an economically challenged region that is rich with diverse languages, music, art, food and lifestyles. Nalinrat and her family are all part of the Thai association that partners with Mundo.
Laekplian Lokgatat Association, Bueng Kan, Thailand
Kittichai lives with his wife Oil, daughter and son in the Bueng Kan area of Northeast Thailand. For decades he lived as a Buddhist monk in Nong Khai province. Now Kittichai and his wife both work in the local public school system teaching. Kittichai is an outstanding director of a local school and is working hard to become a leader in education in Thailand.
Kittichai’s enthusiasm for developing local volunteer teaching projects is only surpassed by his eagerness to think creatively and constructively about how best to help his students, community, and family and enrich the lives of those around him. Chai continues to be a leader of LL.
Mundo was awarded non-profit status as a cross-cultural exchange organization promoting peaceful coexistence: #87-0781320/Q21.