Here at Black & Abroad, we work to ensure that our mission concedes simple brand recognition.
Often along the way, we encounter other like-minded individuals that have successfully mastered the space beyond their anticipated approach to empower the diaspora.
These are the influencers, visionaries, and tastemakers that have managed to successfully employ their own blueprints to create a better world for us tomorrow.
Over the next few weeks, we will present to you a hand-picked line-up of black-owned & operated brands that deserve your consideration.
That deserve your support.
That deserve your attention.
Welcome to the Black & Abroad Conversation Series.
What inspires you most about life and living? Let that question sink in for a moment. If you're anything like the average American worker, you may baffle yourself trying to find the answer.
Until early 2015, the 'answer' for Chari Chin-Young & Dane Caston awaited somewhere beyond where their respective career paths were leading them. After being asked the question by a mutual friend, they discovered that they were paired with a purpose to be more than just boyfriend & girlfriend. The question awakened a calling on their lives that would span far beyond the restraints that their careers had placed on them. They found themselves questioning how Dane's love for travel, coupled with Chari's love for service could change the world.
The answer: The World Peace Connection. WPC is an NGO that inspires individuals to give back to the world by pursuing their passions while being of service to others. We recently got the chance to speak with them to learn a little more about the movement.
1. Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you started WPC.
I am Chari Chin-Young, a young peace seeker. Traveling and culture is innately in my blood. I am consciously aware that my ancestor’s international influence is what makes this world go around. As a citizen of the United States, I took the time to exercise my right to traveling specifically because I know others do not have the “freedom” to do so themselves. After my study abroad experience at Georgia Southern University, the infamous travel bug bit me. I moved to Los Angeles, California with $200 in my account and a Peace Corp job lined up. I served in City Year Los Angeles as an 8th grade teacher and then a year after I worked for one of the number one talent agencies in the world. After dedicating a year to each position my boyfriend, Dane Caston, and I were not happy. We were living in the city of dreams and constantly encouraging others, but not staying true to our own dream.
I am Dane Caston, a man who lives to create a better world for people. Growing up on outskirts of Atlanta, I was really into basketball, music and fashion. I was always intrigued by the thought of traveling and admired people who did. The thought of me being able to even leave Georgia seemed impossible. I always thought you had to “have it all together ” and/or be rich, well I’m glad that what I learned I was wrong! During my sophomore year studying at Georgia Gwinnett College, I was informed about scholarships for students looking to travel and in 2012 was when I first left the U.S. soil to serve in South Africa. From that experience, I knew I wanted to travel for the rest of my life and ended up I traveling to 2 more countries before I graduated. After college I moved to Los Angeles, California and started working in the “ real world” and realized it wasn’t for me. I was completely uneasy knowing that I was investing so much of my life into someone else’s dream and I had dreams and visions of my own. So as I thought about how I was going to execute my dream of changing the world and bringing world peace haha, my perception on life began to shift.
In 2015, we decided to quit our jobs and start our own non-profit called The World Peace Connection. World Peace Connection inspires individuals to unite and give back to the world by pursuing their passions, all while connecting and being of service to others. The World Peace Connection was sparked once one individual asked us “What inspires you the most about life and living?” We pondered on this question and our number one response was traveling, serving others and helping people discover a part of their God given purpose. We decided to use our response as a guide for the rest of our lives. We took a 6-month backpacking journey to South East Asia (Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore) and not just backpack, but travel with a purpose to establish what would become our nonprofit. Our mission was to empower, inspire and create movements of a world peace connection through our travels. We donated funds to local families, small business and other NGO’s in the majority of the countries we visited. We interviewed over 100 people and connected by asking the one question “What inspires you the most about life and living?”
2. Where are you based out of ?
The World Peace Connection was founded in Atlanta, Georgia. However we are a global brand that travels domestically and internationally. So technically we are based out of wherever our bags lay.
3. What are some ways that your movement has helped to directly impact the lives of others?
Transparency and being relatable are unique factors of the World Peace Connection. We use our founders’ raw stories of travel, inspiration and service to create a community of individuals who believe that they too can pursue their own inspirations. We are here to make service look cool.
With less then a year of being incorporated, the WPC traveled to over 9 different countries (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, more independently), sponsored 8 different projects, and conducted over 100 different inspirational interviews, all from the power of this one question “what inspires you the most about life and living?”.
This question was more then just a question, it propelled us to travel and seek the response of others allowing individuals to use their response as platform to find their inner peace.
As a result, we have been featured in Blacktravelista, Miller Lite Tap the Future, Power Talks, TheGirlsSpot, Georgia Gwinnett College Global Civic Engagement, Pink Productions, NiaSkye, and Un.Earth.
We are more then just your typical NGO or Travel Blog, we are guided by our response to this question. We empower, inspire and create a platform for you too, to follow your own inspiration.
Don’t just read this article, but ask your self this question “what inspires you the most about life and living?” use YOUR response to directly impact others!!
LET’S MAKE SERVICE LOOK COOL TOGETHER!!!
4. What are some the obstacles you might’ve faced in the quest to carry out your mission, and how did you overcome?
Learning that obstacles are always going to be presented no matter how prepared you are financially, spiritually, mentally. When one realizes that there will always be obstacles, that’s even an obstacle in itself. The World Peace Connection founders will be the first to admit they did not know how they were going to blaze a trail that has never been blazed before, but what was prevalent was the need for PEACE and CONNECTIONS.
Throughout the process, we would have doubtful questions in our minds. Who are we to say that we have the strength to lead a World Peace Connection? What made us think that we can inspire others to live out there inspiration? Who thought that we would be able to be founders of a nonprofit with zero experience? The secret is, we JUST DID IT! We know, we know, that’s not the answer you want to hear. In all honestly we just believed in ourselves, boiled the midnight oil, used the resources around us, reached out to people in the NGO and travel world, and most importantly continuously moved with what we felt GOD was telling us.
5. Give us a glimpse into one of your most memorable moments during your quest that make your mission well worth it?
Chari: I see it as if it were yesterday when we immersed ourselves in the slums of Hanoi, Vietnam and donated to our first individual, Phuong. She was a young 25-year-old woman, trying to make ends meet with her day job as street sweeper. We initiated the conversation with an exchange of smiles, the universal language of a sense of happiness. Her face was filled with happiness and her vibrations indicated pure joy. I knew it was only right to ask her “What inspires you the most about life and living?” I can hear her voice replay in my head; she said “ The sweat from my work makes me happy.” As we engaged in more conversation she did not let my questions distract her, she continued to sweep. From that moment on, I knew the power of our question. I was placed in South East Asia to ask Phung that question.
Dane: defining moment for myself was when Chari & I agreed to ride motorbikes all the way through Vietnam. Mind you, we had no experience and we agreed to go with people who were complete strangers at the time, but later became our close-knit friends/family.
We started in Hanoi (north) and rode all the way down to Ho Chi Mihn City (south) hitting almost every major city and attraction in between. As I reflect upon this moment, it always sticks out to me because it had shown me how I had grown in so many ways! First off I learned what it meant to be vulnerable and how to listen to my spirit. Secondly, it really showed me that if I believe in myself just enough that whatever I put my mind to I could achieve it. Lastly, grasping the realization of what fear is. Understanding the fact that just as fear is created, it can be destroyed and that’s what we did!
6. What is the end goal of WPC?
We want everyone to discover and move in his or her own personal peace. We aim to display how cool service is. We want the ones who haven’t thought about their inspiration to think. We want individuals to create their own movement that inspires the world. We encourage individuals to connect with those around them and ones that they are unfamiliar. We want to provide a global market place for you to support international entrepreneurs. We want to create global partnerships. We want a World Peace Connection.
Ironically our Nonprofit is a movement and movements never end. We encourage empowerment, inspiration and creation.
We want individuals to serve the world by revealing their true selves. As hard as it may seem, we got you. Here how we want you to take the first 2 steps, just answer and then purse “what inspires you the most about life and living?”
7. How can one support/contribute to your movement?
First step to contribute to the movement is to believe in ones self, it is important to know that self-love over conquers all. Then take the time to ask yourself “What inspires you the most about life and living?” Use your response to create your own World Peace Connection. Contribute to a World Peace Connection movement through participation, generous donations and positively connecting with international entrepreneurs by wearing their products, a product that you believe in.