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Thomas' middle school country report field trip

Organized by: Clint Williams

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THE STORY:

It is a fact that children exposed to other cultures develop a greater global perspective on social justice, diversity, and tolerance of differing viewpoints than those who do not. Right now, this couldn't be more needed. Our country, the United States, is teetering on the precipice of fear, hate, bigotry, racism and religious intolerance whipped up by populist demigogues who engage in the worst sort of stereotyping and scapegoating. Every year, in an effort to broaden their perspective, children are asked to do research papers about far away countries, and they dutifully trek to the library and or the internet to find whatever information they can about their chosen destination. While book reading and internet pictures can fill a report with statistics and a few landmarks, most children will never benefit from the life changing impact of ACTUALLY GOING to their chosen country and experiencing the culture, cuisine, geography and spirit of a foreign land. My son Thomas initially said he wanted to do a report on Dubai, after I expressed interest in attending the world expo there in 2020 ( I pointed out to him that Dubai is not a country but rather part of the United Arab Emirates, a relatively young country located on the shores of the Persian Gulf). Whenever I'd discussed this with family members I was met with concerns based on the usual misconceptions and stereotypes, ie: they hate Americans, its not safe, women have no rights there, you have no religious freedom, etc. While these stereotypes are factually inaccurate, this is of course how some people want to paint the entire muslim world, and such misconceptions lead to fear, distrust and xenophobia. I am not a rich person. I work as a security officer at a local hospital, and have done so for the past almost 15 years. My wife is a dedicated preschool teacher who unfortunately gets furloughed for about 9 weeks a year . We own only one vehicle. While we both find our jobs rewarding on a personal level, money is very tight. While my dream was to attend the world's expo in 2020 with my family, the fact is that it is very unlikely that I will be able to do so. When my son said he wanted to do his country report on the UAE I had the crazy idea that wouldn't it be cool if instead of just reading about it, he could actually experience a different culture, learn about their heritage, visit their historical sites, and gain a larger perspective on just how small a world we live in, and how much we actually have in common as human beings. Believe me, I've tried to come up with ways to make this happen, to no avail. I even briefly entertained the idea of dipping into my meager retirement funds... I was frustrated and once again felt like I just couldn't catch a break. This was something I knew would make a lifelong impact on my son and would be a treasured memory of time spent with his father. One of my co-workers suggested crowdfunding. I was skeptical at first but I did my research and came across CrowdRise. So here is my humble request, Thomas' country report project is due in the spring of 2017. If I can get the trip funded I would like to take him during winter break in february of 2017. I have sought out the most economical flights and lodgings, and subsequently a much longer trip with a 10 hour layover in London. Fortunately this is another place my son has wanted to visit, and I would definitely make the most of the time available for some sight seeing so TWO international experiences for the price of one! Once in Dubai I plan on a heavy reliance on mass transit to make the most of the six days we would split between Dubai and the UAE capitol of Abu Dhabi. To save money it is my intention to stay in the airport hotels in both cities. The only use of a rental car will be to get us from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. My intention isn't to spend our time at theme parks, except for maybe a trip to the waterpark on our last day there. I envision us utilizing the Big Bus hop on hop off tours in both cities. "Must sees" of course are the world's largest tower, Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Aquarium, the old quarter and spice souk, the Dubai heritage museum, and if possible a trip to the desert for a dinner at a bedouin camp and a ride on a camel. On the way to Abu Dhabi it is my intention to stop off at the Al Ain oasis, the Al Ain Zoo and the birthplace of the father of the UAE. While there I will also take my son to the top of Jebel Hafeet, the tallest mountain in the UAE with views that encompass Al Ain and neighboring Oman. Once in Abu Dhabi City we would again make use of the Big Bus hop on hop off tour to visit the Union House ( the place where the UAE was birthed), and the highlight of the entire trip, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is open to people of all faiths and includes a walking tour that not only tells the history of the mosque but also the islamic culture and their beliefs. If there is time I would like to visit Masdar City, 1.5 miles from our hotel. Masdar is a 100% carbon neutral planned city designed to lead the world in sustainable technologies and green energy usage. The last day I would like to take Thomas to Yas Waterworld for the day before we fly back home. The fundraising goal I have put forth may seem like a lot, however with factors such as airfare, lodging, food, admission to various sites and venues, and other incidental and unforseen charges, I felt it was prudent to have a cushion. It is with great humility and gratitude that I submit this request. Please, if you can catch the vision for one child to have a once in a lifetime trip with his father, and the dividends it will pay for his character and social awareness as an adult, please consider funding this trip. I thank you for whatever you can help me with. Clint Williams

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Clint Williams

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