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VT Cast #23: Relief Riders & VolunTourism


How did Alexander Souri get his start in VolunTourism? What does it mean to be a Relief Rider? What are some of the challenges that await those who want to start their own VolunTourism operations? When setting up an operation is their a distinction between going for-profit or non-profit? These questions and more are addressed during this episode of The VolunTourist.

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Past Webcast - January 29, 2008

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Alexander Souri, Founder of Relief Riders International [Bio].


[What are voluntourists learning through these experiences?]

"I think Joy! (laughs). You know, it's a threshold experience on every level. I mean, you're asking people to - - my riders were very hero- - - courageous. To ask them to come to India, to get on a horse and ride through the desert, you know, a lot of people were afraid and so their fears... they're overcoming a lot of fear to, to do good. And that whole experience was big and we would feel it. Everybody on the ride, we were all going through our stuff and letting go of things and perceptions - to be able to open our hearts to give back. And, I think the people that joined me on the rides were very courageous. And they were having a mirror-experience.

We also... there is a duality aspect to these trips where you're - we come from the West, we have a lot technology, we have a lot of food, a lot of great things in our lives - but a lot of us are unhappy. And to experience villagers that are - - sick - - dying, but to see the dignity on their face, it just really, kind of, opens you up to a whole different perception of yourself. And it's the act of giving that really, kind of - letting go of the stuff that you're used to and opening up to a new you and to be able to provide care for somebody else... you're the one that actually ends up with the gift, as well as the other person, but it's a huge experience for the voluntourist.

[Listen To This Quote]

Guest Bio

Alexander Souri, Founder, Relief Riders International .

Born in New York City to a French mother and Indian father, and growing up and schooled in the US , India and France, Alexander Souri has always had a global perspective on life. He has worked in a variety of ways for the entertainment industry: producing plays in the Berkshires, on the Special Effects team for “The Matrix” and “X-Men;” directing commercials and industrial films in China; and as a Special Events producer at the Cannes Film Festival, Sundance, and Paul Allen’s Millennium party in Venice, Italy . 


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Alexander Souri has written: “Relief Riders International is designed to offer individuals not only an exhilarating journey but the chance to use their skills, enthusiasm and experience to promote positive change. I know from my own travels to Rajasthan that for every gift I have given I have received gifts that have changed my life.”