Let us introduce you to our inspirational advisory board, a team of educators and development specialists who are passionate about innovate and sustainable solutions to the world’s needs.

When you ask David Begbie a question, you may have to wait a while for your answer.

Having spoken widely to audiences across the world about development and answering the call of our world in need to heads of giant corporations and members of the UN – people who have the power to facilitate real change – David knows the significance of saying the right thing and saying it well. Everything he says has weight and importance, because everything he does has weight and importance. There’s too little time to waste on not speaking with meaning.

So, our conversation one morning over Skype becomes a long one, full of comfortable silence and the expectation of important and meaningful discussion. At one point he paused for so long that I asked if he’d like to move on to another question and his response was simply:

“It’s not that I can’t answer; it’s that if I turn on the fire hydrant, you can imagine the water that would come forward”.

His passion – for development, for education, for the world – is evident in everything he says.
We begin by discussing how he first began working with Buffalo Educational Travel and he jokes that a bit like one’s first date he cannot recall how exactly him and Graham met, but that it was certainly through the “work of exploring strategic guidelines to help ensure school’s service is strategic, sustainable and transformational”.

It is these ambitious joint goals that we hope to achieve with the help of David as one of our inspiring Advisory Board members. Bringing along the experience of the Crossroads Foundation, who have worked with tens of thousands of students across the planet, we are confident that we are going in the right direction.

Here is what David has to say:

“We run programs and service opportunities for these tens of thousands of students and, in that context, we have begun to realise that while schools have rightly heard the mandate to serve, this does not necessitate that schools know what best practice is.

Most teachers are not trained humanitarian workers; most of them don’t understand development and development work. So while the mandate in schools is right, the service is suboptimal, both for their students and the planet. Fair enough, when no guidance at a higher magnitude has been provided; no strategies have been deployed to help them ensure that their service is doing right by this world.

So, it is into this space that crossroads is working. To help guide schools, whatever their curriculum, to strategic, sustainable, transformational service.

What we long for, both Graham and I, is that schools will not just do more of what is, but will do more of what should be. So that the world’s needs, that are crying out for scaled response, can be met through the hands of students and others. In tactical ways, with understanding.

For any project to have internal combustion, it must be win-win. It must be meeting the felt needs of the schools: the students and their teachers and parents. But it also must be meeting real needs of the community. And one of the areas Educational Travel is seeking to develop, which I think is very right, is looking at what a healthy partnership, carrying those two objectives, would look like.

For us, we are working with the students themselves. Crossroads is working to create guidelines that nurture strategic, sustainable, transformational service, both within schools and in the minds of students, so that when students graduate they may be not only globally aware citizens but global transformational citizens.

One thing we are trying to do is help international schools and service learning professionals understand how to push service into their core competencies. Often, the best place from which you can serve is through your strengths. If teachers’ best strengths are teaching, how do we move service from one week a year into the classroom, sustainably and strategically? So, “I’m doing math and service; I’m doing science and service; I’m changing the world as part of my strength. I can use my skills as service”. It’s the same for everyone: I can be a businessman and do service; I can be a lawyer and do service.

Our job is to serve. And if we can find a way, through whatever means and organisations, to serve this world and those in need better, then that is a good thing.

And BET have, whether intentionally or stumbled upon, found an area of felt need and opportunity that is available in every country. In schools there is a need to do service and in most schools there is an opportunity for the kind of trips that could involve service. If we can help them take this opportunity and work with it in the right way then our impact can be profound. That’s why I’m on board.

It’s a genuine privilege to walk alongside Graham and BET in this endeavour. Because we are friends on this road and we are, all of us, too small. We’re all too small to meet these needs alone.