The Giving Back Project 2018



Thanks to a barrage of emails from gorgeous people saying WTF? in relation to the apology email (if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, read the previous emails below), I’ve had a couple of light bulb moments and realisations …


Lightbulb moment 1: Gypsy is a word that describes a cultural group of people; it is NOT a racial slur or an insult, unless used in a derogatory sense which in the case of the book I’m writing, it most definitely is not (in fact, it’s the opposite, celebrating a Gypsy style life, across 35 countries, over 14 overseas postings, that have been full of uplifting life lessons). According to some it’s not particularly politically correct to use the term however it would seem that there are precious few words these days that can’t be taken the wrong way, by someone, at some point in time. Sigh.


It’s been enlightening to see the other side of the argument though, thanks to a voice message from a bonafied Gypsy, and a few messages from dear old friends who have enlightened me to the reality behind the name and how’s it’s used (and not used, mainly in Europe #whatwouldanaussieknow),


Here’s the voice message I received…


‘I just wanted to let you know that I am an actual Gypsy… when I see people use the word Gyspy, I see it as an absolute badge of honour… I really appreciate it when people can use the word Gyspy in a non YUCK way – you know, you see movies like ‘My Big Fat Gyspy Wedding’ and people make assumptions about what that kind of life means.


I’d just like you to know that I don’t take offence to that at all, and I know a lot of Gyspies don’t either.


I’m totally on your side when it comes to naming this book… thank you for sharing the wonderful, kind side of the Gyspy world… you are genuinely what I would consider a true Gypsy sister….I’ve seen that you have given your life to all these different communities….you’re always out travelling and giving up your luxuries in life to give other people the benefits of what you have, and you do live a very similar life to what we Gypsies do…. and that is give up our fundamental luxuries, our material possessions in order to help others… and you do that… you give back to the world.


So good on you for standing up for what you believe in. Thank you. Thank you, from someone who is a genuine Gyspy, I consider you a true Gyspy sister – I love what you do. Thank you. And if anyone wants to have a go at you for using the word Gypsy for your book, let me at them!’


Lightbulb moment 2: I may have jumped the gun in an effort to please a solitary, well meaning albeit slightly misinformed individual. Life Lesson #85745495. You’ll never be able to please everyone, and changing yourself to please other people rarely results in anything good for anyone.


Will I be changing the name of the book back to what it was originally?


The jury is still out on that one.


I have no desire to be using a term which can be considered politically incorrect or to insult or enrage even a small percentage of the population who considers the usage inappropriate; therefore I’m reluctant to knowingly do something that is putting my neck on the line. You can’t ‘un-know’ what you’ve learnt so my gut tells me to play it safe and err on the side of caution.


Having said that, I think the world has gone a little bit nuts when it comes to political correctness and I stand by the original intention to showcase a phenomenally powerful, positive and uplifting life of stories, life lessons and light bulb moments, in the hope that it can educate, entertain and provide a much needed giggle snort; especially in a time where we, as a generation, are struggling with a world that has become, quite frankly, absurd. Political correctness gone overboard. Kids having to rally against gun laws. Environmental clusterf%cks. Reality TV show hosts becoming world ‘leaders’. God give us all a bit of strength, whoever your ‘God’, or divine guidance giver is.


Anyway, update: Patrons received their first chapter today, as promised.


If you sign up before midnight tonight, I’ll send you the chapter they just received. Chapters are sent in the first week of every month, after the donations have come in. So here’s the link if you’d like to stay updated and as the chapters come out, one by one (and you’ll be giving back to quality education and teacher training in developing countries, one school at a time). I’ve reached a quarter of my first goal, which is to get 20 patrons on board, so thanks to those that have kickstarted the Giving Back 2018 project with me! When I get to 20 patrons, I’ll be organising 2 days of volunteering at schools who otherwise wouldn’t have access to basic teacher training. All funds raised go directly to providing resources needed at the school. I’d love your support! (there are bigger goals too, 50 patrons = 5 volunteer days, 100 patrons = 10 volunteer days)….


Here’s the back story in case you missed it….


A few days ago, I got slayed on social media for using the word ‘Gypsy’. Now you might already realise why that was so inappropriate, but I had no idea until it was pointed out to me. #cuemortification #learningneverstops


If you didn’t read the first email, don’t worry, it’s attached so you can get the full story on what the Journals are about, and why I’m publishing them (it’s all about Giving Back – getting quality teacher training out to schools who need it) – but here’s the mistake I made, and the apology that goes with it. 


‘Gypsy’ is actually a racist slur; it was never the intention to casually use a word which may offend, rather a word that I have called and considered myself for many years – in the most positive of senses. Apologies to all and any who may have been offended by the original title.


I have edited the original title ‘The Gypsy Journals’ to a working title ‘The Giving Back Journals’ to reflect this new awareness. Any suggestions on a better word for Gypsy, that describes the life I’ve lead over the past 20 years (moving from posting to posting, living, learning and loving one country and culture after another), please do pass them on!


Original post on social media and the email that went out yesterday:


So this just happened. It’s the way I’m going to be doing my Giving Back Project for 2018 – helping teachers and schools that don’t have access to the type of basic training that we enjoy in Australia; fancy being a part of it?


The full story is below, but the short story is this: when I hit 20 patrons, I’ll donate 2 days of help to a school in need – be that teacher training, curriculum or resources development or supplying basic teaching and learning materials. When I hit 50 patrons, I’ll donate another 5 days, and when I hit 100 patrons, I’ll donate another 10 days of help. I will bear all the costs of the getting the training to the schools; the money donated will go towards providing the physical resources needed.


Here’s the full story.


If you’ve been following me on social media, you will have seen a whole heap of photos and snippets from the past 20 years I’ve had on the road; as a traveller, roving English teacher, teacher trainer and as a big believer in ‘giving back’ brings about a shed load of stories – from black mail, to evacuation due to civil unrest, detention as an illegal alien, deportation and surviving multiple organ failure, I’ve travelled through 35 countries (to date), worked with over 90 cultures and been on 14 overseas postings before creating a second base for myself in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.


They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’ve often said if I was any stronger I’d be forged steel, but I don’t take back a second of any of the hair-raising adventures I’ve taken myself on. Each one of those experiences has transformed me and I don’t regret a single one of them. I have lived and loved to the very fullest, taken every opportunity by the horns, slept rough, eaten with Presidents, built houses with the poorest locals on the planet, I’ve been head over heels in love and desperately heartbroken by the people who I’ve cared about the most but nothing has transformed me the way that the past 6 years have. Part of this transformation has been about getting back to what I really love doing, and that is writing, travelling, learning more about culture, and understanding the most complex conundrum on the planet – what makes people tick. 


I’ve got enough stories to keep a road trip entertained for hours and so this is my mission – to translate the journals and the diaries, the blogs and the emails I’ve collected over the past 20 years into a series of short stories, which will eventually be turned into traditional paperbacks and audio books, narrated of course by the lead character – moi! Every story brings with it a healthy dose of giggle snorting and a life lesson of some description, carefully curated and written from the heart of what those experiences taught me. 

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me ‘so when are you writing the book?’ I’d have enough to self publish this book 10 times over – so I’m mixing things up a bit and putting forward a proposal. I promise a new chapter every month to all those who are contributing to the cause. Not only will you read the chapters as they’re compiled, you’ll also be gifted a paperback when it’s published, and I’m promising to pledge dollar for dollar; every dollar donated, I’m going to match – and give directly to a Giving Back Project like I do every year, to a school in need – teacher training, curriculum development, whatever the school needs to up-skill their staff and make learning something that every kid in that school is excited about turning up for. 

So. The longer it goes on, the more chapters will be written and the more schools will be helped. Who’s in? Many thanks to my Auntie Pam who planted this seed a few years ago, by turning up on my doorstep with a manila envelope full of the stories I’d written over the years, saying ‘Maria, write the book’.


Fancy being part of the journey with me? You can sign up for as little as $5/month, through my Patreon account, here. If you’d like to see the kinds of Giving Back Projects I’ve been involved in over the years, you can check them out here 🙂


Looking forward to sharing the chapters with my patrons as they’re published – there are two ready to go, and will be sent to say thank you for signing up! All other chapters will be sent out on a monthly basis. Looking forward to seeing how many days of teacher training I’m going to give away this year!





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