I’m sure you’ve heard the song “Africa”, written by David Paich and Jeff Porcar of the music group Toto.  A snippet of the lyrics includes:


“The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become


It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had (ooh, ooh)”


If you’ve heard the song, you only need to hear the drum beats which begin the song to instantly recognize it.  If you’ve never been to Africa, hearing the words to the song will conjure, in your mind, the dusty plains of the Serengeti and you can see images of Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Well, having recently returned from visiting Africa, I can tell you the song accurately portrays the Africa I experienced in my memorable visit.


In the greatest game sanctuary in the world in Serengeti National Park, the deluxe tent which was my home for several nights was nothing like the tents I camped in as a child.  With a solid wooden floor, ensuite bath, swaths of mosquito netting and a comfortable bed with luxe linens, I was awakened early by a gentle tap on my tent frame, and a quiet voice announced the time and an offer of a cup of hot tea to begin my day. As I slowly roused, I could hear the gentle rustle of native grasses indicating the approach of a lion.  What made the sound so intriguing is that I had become accustomed to the stillness of the bush and now any sound made me listen more intently.  Soon, the twitter of birds signaled the big cat has passed by and although I didn’t realize it, I’d been holding my breath.  As I released the air in my lungs, I appreciated how, in just a few short days into this adventure, I’d become one with the nature that was all about me.


Although I was participating in a luxury safari, seeing the members of the “big 5,” consisting of lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalos, had become commonplace.  I was able to determine the smallest differences in types of zebra, and I saw one that was black with white stripes, versus one that was white with black stripes, and I’ve got photos to prove it!  Still, when a giraffe moved languidly toward our safari land cruiser, I was struck by their height, gentleness and beauty.  In fact, being so close to all the animals I’d previously only seen in a zoo was truly awe-inspiring.  Not only that I had seen them in their natural habitat but how many of each species existed is hard to comprehend.  Our guides were adept at finding those animals lazily stretched out in the grasses and pointed out others well-concealed by their markings as they blended in with the scenery.  It was hard not to take photos of each and every animal; they were all the same, but different!


During the visit to the Masai Mara National Reserve, I was excited to see the Masai Village.  It was so interesting to learn about their traditions and to see those customs come to life!  We were welcomed with the singing of traditional songs and dances, and to see the beautiful, warm smiles of the children was truly heart-warming.  Even the lighting of a bonfire was done in a specific way and had special meaning.


I was intrigued by their intricate jewelry and saw how long it took to make the very detailed ornaments and what a story each piece told.  The beading can be worked into very elaborate items and I was so delighted to come home with many pieces, including bracelets, necklaces, and key chains.  Blankets are also made and sold to visitors which are the same type of blankets used on the safaris, as the evenings can get cool and the blankets are very welcome. The funds they receive from the sale of the different objects helped with any of the needs in their community.  I felt like I was making a difference in purchasing things that were so unique and will always remind me of my visit.  Participants in the PTPI delegation to Kenya and Tanzania will have an opportunity to visit the local school and to provide donations to specifically address the needs of the local villages.


My visit created so many memories for me and I will hold the images of the people, places and animals I saw very dear and close to my heart.  It was truly a “bucket list” trip for me, and I hope you can experience this remarkable region for yourself with PTPI on the delegation to Kenya and Tanzania June 1-11, 2019. Go to PTPI.org/travel to learn more!


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COVID-19 update: due to ongoing social distancing requirements and the lack of available resources locally to host students, GYF 2020 is currently postponed to fall 2020. We are planning a reunion conference with our GYF alumni and a select group of local students to help test out a new curriculum and brainstorm location and program ideas. Some of this conference will be live-streamed for our School and Classroom participants and our overseas chapters. Global Youth Forum continues to be our most popular program, bringing in students from around the world to discuss global issues, explore innovative ways to solve problems and develop their leadership, cultural competency and diplomacy skills. Like nearly every other non-profit company, our operations have been significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Most notably, the dormitories we host our out of town students in are closed for the summer, so as we plan for GYF, we know we will be hosting local students for day trips only with the possibility some students may come from outside Kansas City and stay in the homes of our staff. We also are not able to bring in any students from outside the US, and due to continued social distancing requirements the student body will be significantly smaller than in the past. Please continue to check back here for more information.

New for 2020: The PTPI President's Reading List

Welcome to the 2020 PTPI President's Reading List. This year, for the first time, we've advanced the Global Book Club to more closely align with our mission and vision and provide a year-long experience in culture, travel, education and global citizenship. The reading list this year includes a diverse selection of books and multimedia that will enrich and inspire you to embrace the adventurer within each of us and to see the potential impact that cultural exchanges and humanitarian service adds to many lives. Join us in our facebook group to talk about what you're reading! Click the graphic to access the full reading list including descriptions of the books. Join our Facebook Group HERE.


Bring the world to your classroom! The first step toward a more peaceful tomorrow is investing in children today. This completely free modern-day pen pal program offers teachers around the world resources, projects, and global connections with teachers and PTPI members to support the development of globally-minded and culturally-competent students. The School & Classroom Program (SCP) is a completely free service that matches your classroom with another classroom from across the globe. While you teach global history and tell stories about adventures in a land far, far away, you can build friendships for your students with others from these very lands. By registering your class, you will be matched with a classroom of similar age and size. You'll receive an SCP guidebook that will help you to build a curriculum that fits the needs of both classrooms. Through pen pal relationships and shared projects, your students will develop global mindedness and exposure to amazing cultures and traditions. This amazing program is very adaptable and can be as simple or in-depth as a teacher chooses for their students. Register in the fall to be matched with a partner classroom from a "far away land" for the school year. Sign up for the School & Classroom Program here or contact Laurie Arellano at (816) 531-4701 for details!

Coming in 2020: digital art competition!

We are evolving our long-standing Global Youth Murals program to allow more participation from our overseas chapters as well as home-schooled students and those students without access to art programs. Our goal is to be more inclusive and to allow students to address global issues with more individual expressions. Check back here for details about our digital art contest! Additional information and submission instructions are in the Global Youth Mural guidelines.



COVID-19 update: scholarship applications will be accepted until further notice. Our scholarship funding has been impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and we are uncertain when scholarship funds will be available to be released to schools. Please be patient as we work with our very generous donors to help continue to fund the program. The Joyce C. Hall College Scholarship is possible through funding provided by a direct bequest from Mr. Hall when he passed. This program not only illustrates the importance of the People to People's mission to Mr. Hall, it is also a symbol of the longstanding partnership between Hallmark and People to People International. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE