TT: Welcome to Gail Shore, founder of Cultural Jambalaya, an amazing resource for teachers that provides complimentary educational photos and videos from around the world. Gail, tell us about your background.
G: For more than 40 years, I have traveled around the world to places that are culturally unique, many of them remote. I photograph areas that most people will never experience, and some places many cannot find on a map. I travel alone but always have a guide for safety and for access.
I was born and raised in the Milwaukee area and cut my teeth in the airline business – my first proper job. At first, I visited more conventional places but then in the early 80s I went to East Africa, which turned my travel life upside down. For the first time, I experienced a truly different culture, including the people and their customs and traditions… not to mention the animals and environment. That adventure completely refocused my travel on places that are culturally unique. I left the airline many years ago, but I continue to travel regularly. And over the years, these amazing experiences have reshaped my life.
I‘m not a teacher by profession, although I spend a huge part of my time working in cultural education. Today, my day job is in public relations. I own and operate a small firm that allows a lot of flexibility. Each fall, I typically take one big trip for 3 weeks or so. Because I travel alone my trips are not inexpensive. I’m single, no kids, and I pour all my savings into global travel. It’s a different kind of life to be sure.
TT: Fascinating! What kinds of unique places do you travel to?
G: I’ve been globetrotting for decades and particularly enjoy places most people know very little about – that’s what makes them interesting. I want to learn more about people from other cultures, including their backgrounds, customs and traditions, and certainly their history and religion. I’ve visited geopolitically interesting and isolated spots such as North Korea, Syria, Mali, Turkmenistan and Myanmar, and remote places including the Amazon, Bhutan, Nepal and Papua New Guinea.
TT: Wow! Tell us about your nonprofit, Cultural Jambalaya.
G: For many years, I’ve shared my photographs and images at galleries, exhibits and hundreds of presentations. My friends and colleagues persistently asked what I planned to do with all my photos… and stories. Many for-profit business ideas surfaced but creating a nonprofit just felt like the right thing to do. We put together a well-connected board of business professionals, educators and activists, and enlisted volunteers including marketers, designers and communicators. In 2005, we formed the nonprofit and named it Cultural Jambalaya, my other job.