Today we’re focusing on a new member of the team. For all of you already signed up you might be familiar with Sophie (if not, you soon will be!). Sophie, along with Ellie, is the first point of contact for runners involved with The Uganda Marathon and she’ll be making sure that you have the most amazing time you can possibly have. If you have any questions at all, then don’t hesitate to contact her, if you don’t have any questions then just email to say hi :-). She’s on the other end of [email protected]

Having been to 60 countries, Sophie is a serial traveller with almost a decade of experience working in the tourism industry and is also a contributing author to a forthcoming book about volunteer travel – Adventures Less Ordinary: How to Travel and Do Good

I’ve always had a strong desire to help everyone, people and animals alike, and began spending time after high school helping out at a local wildlife rescue centre.  I became a student tutor at University and volunteered for the RSPCA at weekends.  After graduating with a degree in Computing from which I remember little more than building a rather complicated database and writing a programme about dinosaurs, I embarked on my first solo trip to Thailand, not to travel, but to look after monkeys, bears and a tiger.  From then on, every trip would have an element of volunteering – even a 2 week holiday in Bali saw me spending a day feeding new-born kittens and walking a three-legged dog.

I tend to like do things a bit differently and in my working career this has seen me taking on variety of roles ranging from delivering training in the police force to being a cowgirl in the Australian outback.  I fell into the tourism industry following my first backpacking trip, basically because I didn’t really know what else to do and I liked travelling and figured it would allow me to have more adventures.  And it did.

 

Sophie - Kayak

 

But I grew tired of selling all-inclusives to people who were just after the sun, sea and sand, and who didn’t care about the destination.  Immersing myself in the local culture is the very thing that excites me about travelling; trying to communicate in a language you neither speak nor understand, wondering what on earth you’ve just ordered to eat because you couldn’t read the menu, and how complete strangers can treat you with such limitless kindness when you’ve got into a bit of a tricky situation.  I was becoming increasingly aware that tourism can be incredibly damaging, both to the destination’s environment and to its host population and decided to study for my MSc in Responsible Tourism Management, to learn about minimising the negative impacts and maximising the positive impacts of tourism, for the people who live in the destinations, and for the tourists who visit them.

That’s what drew me to join the team for the Uganda Marathon, knowing the local communities will really benefit from this and that they have their say in where the money goes.  It’s not just a group of people from the UK organising an event in Uganda, it’s a joint effort between both communities to and it’s humbling to be in the presence of such inspiring people; to be part of something filled with such enthusiasm is infectious.

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