We had the good fortune of connecting with Charmaine Pruitt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Charmaine, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Adventure Minded People Exploring Diversity Abroad (AMPED Abroad) benefits communities–and our world. When people sign up for an AMPED Abroad volunteer placement or internship assignment they’re taking a bold step to embark upon an immersive experience that will (1) challenge them to expand their cultural understanding and empathy; (2) allow them to share their knowledge and experience to help advance community development abroad; and (3) learn different approaches to addressing issues and problem solving that they can apply to their personal and professional life and pass on to others in their home country.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
AMPED Abroad organizes culturally immersive learning experiences through volunteer placements and internship assignments in Africa, Central and South America, and Europe (Some day we’ll have Asia on the program roster.) The purpose is for participants to expand their cultural knowledge and understanding. They are able to achieve that by living with a host family and working shoulder to shoulder with the local people at a community-based project.While the participants choose their host country and project, another part of the beauty of it all is that it is the local communities that determine which projects are important to them and for their development. Not only the participants benefit, so do the host countries.
There are a few things that sets me/AMPED Abroad apart; I believe. I earned a degree in Political Science, with an emphasis on International Relations, and a graduate degree in Public Administration. I began my career liaising with non-profit social organizations and add to that the work I did with refugees and later work as the Latin America Program Manager for another company, I would say my education, coupled with my experience, uniquely qualifies me to do what I do. It’s the fact that care too–I care equally about the communities we partner with and the participants we serve. With that said, our participants can be assured that AMPED Abroad and its carefully vetted in-country partners will be there when needed from the time they submit their inquiry until their last day with our program.
This can be a time for building and expanding, and AMPED Abroad is looking forward to possibly making a few big announcements in the future (smirk and a wink), in preparation for when we return to some semblance of normalcy. Needless to say, it wasn’t easy getting here. You’ve probably heard the Kobi Yamadaln quote: “She took the leap and built her wings on the way down.” That’s me. Nor has it been easy to continue standing.
Over the years, I’ve learned that owning your own business is not for the faint of heart. There are sacrifices that must be made and success doesn’t always come as quickly as you might think. That’s when you need to ask yourself some thoughtful questions. Do I really want to do this? If the answer is “yes”, when times are tough you then must ask: Why do I do this? If it was about the money, AMPED Abroad would’ve been dissolved a long time ago. All I can say is that there is a force bigger than me that won’t let me give it up. Every time I’ve thought about it, there has been just the right word spoken, at just the right time that lets me know I need to keep going. And there is a feeling of overwhelming purpose that says I can’t quit. I look around at our current social climate, especially in the US, and I know the world needs what AMPED Abroad has to offer. We need to communicate and spend time with people who don’t look like us, talk like us, or think like us. I’ve got work to do, and it’s well cut out for me. That-is-my-why.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, that’s tough. My best friend lives here in Texas. Texas is where AMPED Abroad is headquartered. Fort Worth to be exact, 30 minutes from Dallas. Imagine that… Sorry, that was a little snarky. It’s just that you wouldn’t imagine a company like AMPED Abroad being based somewhere like Texas. Let me focus. I’m gonna pretend you’re my BFF.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Is there enough time? Seriously, there are so many who are deserving of recognition. As it relates specifically to AMPED Abroad, it was definitely a God thing; he ordered the steps. In 2002, I took a daring leap of faith and resigned from my position as a city grant administrator. Little did I understand how much of a whirlwind journey was in store. One of the many stops along the way involved teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) and other subjects to refugee students at International Newcomer Academy in Fort Worth, an experience that still remains to be my most rewarding to date. I can honestly say that I learned as much from those students as they did from me. It was during that time that I realized my passion for working with other cultures. That was also when I realized my Spanish was merely lying dormant after 10 years of not applying it. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my family and friends, especially my cousin, Vanessa, for her support and encouragement. Shoutout to my mother, Cathy, for tolerating me, and lending a creative eye when needed.
Photography: McArlain Morilus, LK Supreme Media (black and white and color shots outdoors in the gold kimono, with the travel journal and pink and green skirt only. All other photos are amateur shots from my travels.) Hair: Vita Hair Studios, Mansfield, Texas