We had the good fortune of connecting with Vincie Ho (Ph.D.) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vincie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I founded RISE Travel Institute in June 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. I took a risky step to start a nonprofit when the global tourism industry was brought to a standstill and businesses and organizations were struggling to survive, but I firmly believe that this unintended pause was the best time for us to reset, reflect on and rebuild from the unsustainable and unjust systems that negatively impact local communities, economies and ecosystems around the world. Through our educational programs and experiential journeys, we hope to provide young people like you with the knowledge and the tools to make the most mindful travel decisions that would do the most good and the least harm to the communities and ecosystems of our travel destinations, so that they don’t just recover from the pandemic, but thrive beyond how it used to be in the most sustainable and healthy way. We started RISE Travel Institute as an anti-oppression organization also as a response to the rising global anti-racism movement. We wanted to work with like-minded academic institutions and nonprofits and tourism businesses to explore ways to move the tourism industry towards a more inclusive one. We believe that we can never truly achieve sustainability if we don’t address the underlying oppressive systems that are upholding the status quo so that some people/entities continue to benefit more from the systems than others, whether we’re talking about our travel destinations, or our communities back home. Looking at all the topics surrounding sustainability and travel through an anti-oppression lens is what makes us unique.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I and my team have been working very hard on our two inaugural programs – our online educational curriculum and our first Experiential Journey. The primary goal of our programs is to provide travelers with the knowledge and the tools to learn to travel in a way that benefits the local communities and ecosystems of their travel destinations. And by ‘travel destinations’ we’re not only talking about places far and away, but really any places that are ‘foreign’ to us, and that could be a neighborhood in our own city. We want to help our students see and experience the world in a different way, cultivate empathy for people who are different from us, and create space for difficult but important conversations about identities, privilege, and power, and inspire our students to think critically about their relationship with other people, animals, and the planet.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
(I’m based in the Greater NYC Area, not LA, is this question still relevant to me? I’m going to make a list of where I would recommend people going in NYC just in case) Things to do/places to visit:
– The High Line
– Graffiti tour in Williamsburg/Bushwick/Lower East Side
– Walking tour in Harlem
– Tenement Museum
– Fort Tryon Park and the Cloister
– Dirt Candy
– Housing Works Café
– Chelsea Market
– The Terrace
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A serious shoutout goes to my colleagues at RISE Travel Institute! Ten months ago when I started RISE, it was hard for me to predict what the future would hold for this organization. I thought I’d be struggling for a long time to build a team. Fast forward to today, we’re a team of more than 30 volunteers. Some of them are seasoned professionals in sustainable tourism and international education, others have extensive experience in nonprofit management. All of them dedicate their time and contribute their expertise to support RISE unconditionally, just because they believe in our mission and vision and want to be part of this journey. I’m deeply grateful for them and look forward to celebrating future milestones with them all!