We believe in embracing complexity.
We believe in listening and in asking questions.
We believe in young people.
We believe that travel grounded in empathy, understanding, and respect promotes peace.
At Envoys we do not ‘go on trips’. We lead students on focused explorations of topics of global significance, bringing in perspectives from multiple stakeholders and learning to better engage with the diverse and beautiful world.
Envoys are different from the adventure-seekers, educated tourists, and backpackers also moving around the world.
Envoys travel with open minds, confidence and compassion, seeking to learn about a culture and build lasting relationships with the local people.
Envoys are empathetic souls.
Envoys travel not for themselves, but for the world.
There is great complexity in our work. At Envoys, we acknowledge complexity head-on and embrace it; only in avoiding complexity does its power over us remain. We view empathy, understanding, and respect as mindsets that we can imperfectly and steadfastly pursue in our work with students, enabling them to design for themselves what the first generation of true globalists might do for humanity.
In a watershed moment for global travel, we have defined for ourselves what it means to be an Envoy, to speak aloud what we quietly practice.
We explain radical deference through three core principles: The Essential Odyssey; Humility, Awe, and Wonder; and Preparing for the Work of the Future.
Global citizenship is a journey inwards and outwards.
First, is the journey inwards. We must prepare students to be truly present and aware of how we relate to our thoughts and how we acknowledge becoming distracted by them.
Quite often, this entails helping students embrace the Joy of Missing Out. Life is a series of moments, and those moments when we are fully and authentically engaged are those that matter. Let’s slow down and process.
Students must also spend time near the border of their comfort zone, recognize how to grow and learn, acknowledge their learner’s mind, and understand their emotions and how to use them.
Secondly is the journey outwards. In the journey outwards, we should work with students to build and practice empathy. This means seeing yourself in others, and others in yourself. Acknowledge how reliant you are on others, and look for opportunities to be of service. Finally, the world is a place of beauty and wonder. It is not ours to consume or to understand, but to approach with humility and awe.
Untethering from the self permits us to experience radical deference–the crumpling and simultaneously beautiful acknowledgement of beauty and complexity in the world. The feeling of being drawn to complexity. Radical deference is humbling ourselves by all that we do not know, and adopting mindsets of curious inquiry to pursue understanding. This is about connecting to our dormant childhood feelings of wonder and imagination, and recovering them for the the rituals, traditions, individuals, cultures, languages, societies, practices, mysteries, and quotidian beauties of the world.
It is also very importantly about valuing others equally as we value ourselves–a priori in our minds and through our actions as well. Individual and collective history and the global political order make this especially challenging. The past is not past; it remains buoyed to the present through individual people who the carry pain, trauma, shame, and guilt of history like an invisible but heavy cloak. The unintended consequence is that we avoid complexity. We must dig through the rubble of the past to reveal how remarkably liberating it is to experience awe and wonder when confronted with difference, rather than fear and negativity.
Radical deference requires a proclivity to taking action; it is not about being a passive observer.
First, we must help students discover their passions, and give worthiness to their dreams. If they don’t have a dream of their own, they will end up chasing someone else’s.
Secondly, we must demonstrate the value of showing up for people–for those you don’t know and those you do. This doesn’t just mean presence, it means preparation, engagement, and inconveniencing yourself for others and for the greater good. Let’s help students understand that to be able to rely on other people, they must be able to rely on you as well.
Finally, the work of the future requires creative collaborators who are action-oriented and embody a collective mindset. Our role is to provide students’ real opportunities to rise to the occasion of the moment. The generation of students in secondary and tertiary schools today will face unforeseeable and formidable challenges, and to overcome them students must understand not only their collective responsibility but also their collective power together.
The extent to which the project upholds human dignity, fosters fellowship, and adheres to mutuality of relationships.
The potential to provide a transformative learning experience for all involved, including the learners undertaking the service project as well as other stakeholders engaged in the work.
The net outcome of the experience, examining the extent to which a positive and sustainable impact is made in comparison to the resources expended.
The impact of the project on the natural world, examining the relative benefits and costs on non-renewable resources and engagement with natural spaces.
Our perspective on service learning
The term “CEDE” was consciously chosen for this framework in order to frame the process as a release of the tensions, inhibitions, and shame that often comprises service learning. Engaging in the process requires acknowledgement and acceptance of the particular problems for a chosen project, including those elements that could lead to serious ethical issues. As making thoughtful choices lies at the heart of the CEDE process, all project stakeholders, including students and community partners, are engaged in authentic and frank discussions, thereby achieving certainty around the choices made.
As Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot once said:
"Part of teaching is helping students learn how to tolerate ambiguity, consider possibilities, and ask questions that are unanswerable"