May 8, 2018
Recognizing shared values and an overlap between TourMagination travellers and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) donors, the for-profit business and non-profit organization recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding signalling their desire to collaborate more closely for mutual benefit.
“During our 48 years of operation, we have intersected with MCC informally through financial support and visiting with their staff in various countries. We are pleased to pursue a more intentional working relationship that will benefit both organizations,” says TourMagination President Audrey Voth Petkau.
In an effort to make their group tours more culturally respectful and environmentally responsible, TourMagination invited MCC leaders to share their organizational learnings gained over the last 98 years. With input from MCC, TourMagination refined their travel guidelines, which are given to tour participants and tour leaders to inform interactions on their group excursions.
One of TourMagination’s distinctives is offering tours with a strong learning component. “We encourage our travellers to have an attitude of open-hearted curiosity as they visit other cultures,” says Voth Petkau. For example, one of their tours takes mostly U.S. travellers to Cuba to reconsider what they “know” about this country as they interact with Cuban church leaders, worship with a local congregation, and hear about the historic Cuban missile crisis from another perspective. Though the focus is leisure travel, many TourMagination excursions have some aspects in common with MCC’s learning tours.
In addition, TourMagination is seeking to support the work of Mennonite Central Committee by visiting their projects on tours when possible. For example, on a Holy Land tour with Mennonite World Conference President Nelson J. Kraybill, travellers will spend an afternoon with MCC workers in Jerusalem hearing about their work with both Palestinian and Israeli organizations in the area. Tour participants will have an opportunity to give financially to MCC.
As well, TourMagination has begun to make their clients aware of MCC’s International Service Worker Opportunities. MCC will also recommend current and former MCC staff, with lived experience in a particular country, to TourMagination as expert tour leaders. Former MCC workers or volunteers are among TourMagination’s current knowledgeable tour leaders including, Jim & Goldine Pankratz, Fred & Shirley Redekop, Jack & Irene Suderman, Bert & Martha Lobe, and Bob & Margaret Nally.
“MCC is pleased to enter into this new agreement with TourMagination,” says Mark Epp, director of programs for MCC Canada. “Our experience has taught us that face-to-face encounters with other people and cultures is foundational to peacebuilding. We welcome the opportunity for more of those encounters between our programs, partners and TourMagination travellers.” For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Sandra Reimer at 519 496-5125 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Laura Kalmar at 204-261-6381 or email@example.com
Background on TourMagination
Founded in 1970 to share the Mennonite heritage story in Europe, TourMagination has led faith-based group tours in more than 50 countries and to every continent. Our mission is to help people of faith experience, explore, and expand their world. With a distinctive blend of learning and recreation, we provide an authentic cultural experience as travellers interact with locals on our tours. Our expert tour leaders and knowledgeable in-country guides help tour participants understand the significance of sites. We also facilitate community among like-minded travellers.
About Mennonite Central Committee
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches, shares God’s love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice in more than 50 countries. MCC envisions communities worldwide in right relationship with God, one another and creation. As we celebrate the centennial of our ministry in 2020, we reaffirm our Christ-led commitment to compassionately serve and learn from vulnerable people around the world.