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Interview with Nora - founder of @animalinternational

· Animals,Volunteering,Travel

A passionate traveller, CEO and founder of an international business and a person with deepest empathy for animals, Nora Livingstone lives the most extraordinary live one can imagine. 

This young woman has amazing energy and unconditional love for the mission she has chosen: not only @animalinternational empowers and encourages people to travel and to volunteer, it also makes real world positive change for local conservation and animal welfare issues.

We were astonished how many different facettes Noras daily work entails and could not resist to ask her some questions, that you will find in next posts. Please welcome the true #Heroine_of_the_week Nora.

@ichselbstaendig: Nora, hi! You are a founder of Animal Experience International - a certified B Corp who sends people to volunteer on conservation and animal welfare programs. Can you tell us a story, how this journey began?

 

Nora: AEI started because my business partner and I realised there were simply amazing programs out there that do real quantifiable good for their communities, the environment and animals BUT they weren't always the programs that had volunteers running to them who needed volunteers. We knew we could best serve these placements by listening to them, rather than telling them how to help. So that is just what we did, we called a few places that I had visited and loved and asked how to help.

 

@ichselbstaendig: Nora, tell us, who is your volunteer? Which countries do they come from? Where are they headed?

 


Nora: I think I have the best job in the world because I get to talk to people all over the world who want to volunteer all over the world. We mostly have North Americans and Europeans volunteering but we have had volunteers from Australia, the UK, the Caribbean, East Africa and a few countries in South America. It has just been awesome! There are so many people who want to help animals, I am truly inspired everyday by the almost all women (more than 95%) who decide to dedicate their travel to helping animals.
They volunteer on animal welfare and conservation programs in more than 15 countries! From dolphins in Croatia and horses in Mongolia to Toucans in Guatemala and kangaroos in Australia.


@ichselbstaendig: Over 400 volunteers went on an adventure with AEI, this is a huge responsibility. How do you manage to create secure, fun and life-changing experiences?


Nora: One of the most important things we do is make sure we visit the placement first. This means we can speak directly to the community and make sure they operate fairly and with a high level of humane standards. It also means we can make sure we know exactly how to speak about the program to our volunteers. Going on these wild adventures first also means we can give people insider knowledge about where they are going.

@ichselbstaendig: Tell us about your own biggest adventure?

Nora: My biggest adventure would be starting AEI. It made me believe in myself and forced me to believe a bit more in humanity. Yes, I travel around the world to help sad, sick, injured and orphaned animals... BUT I travel to meet the people who see these animals and not only want to help them, do help them. It's an incredible adventure and one that has brought me to more than 45 countries.

@ichselbstaendig: Of all the paths you could have chosen, why did you decide to found AEI?

Nora: To be honest, I fell into AEI. I never thought I could run a business, let alone start one. I went to school for anthropology and environmental studies- so by any outside perspective I wasn't qualified to even help answer phones for AEI! But there was a hole in the market for real quality animalcentric travel experiences and I was naive enough to think I could make a difference by empowering people to travel, Marget Mead was right- those are the ones that actually do!

@ichselbstaendig: Is there a woman that you look up to or you could call your mentor or inspiration?

Nora: Women who inspire me are women who don't take any crap. Women that see what they want and go for it. People like our clients! Some of them have never left their home towns and decide to go to places for a few weeks just to help dogs or elephants or bears. Women who refuse to be put into a mould and who refuse to let others make their choices- those women help me get out of bed in the morning because I want to meet those women!

 

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