On the Lycian coast along the south coast of the vast country are ancient sites located in Ephesus, Dalyan, Patara, Fethiye and Kas surrounded by unparalleled nature. A labyrinth of mountains, beaches and rivers in a unique ecosystem that combines sunshine and sea breezes amid the ruins ancient cultures from the Hittite, Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman civilizations. All this combined with beautiful blue skies, pristine beaches and the charm of the Mediterraean lifestyle...
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In 1994, at age 19, Shannon Galpin moved to Heidelberg, Germany, to experience life overseas — and stayed abroad for 10 years, living in Germany, Wales, France, and Lebanon. When she eventually returned to American soil, she continued to travel overseas for work several months at a time, feeling disconnected, but eventually settling into mountain life in Breckenridge, CO, where she was a sports trainer and competitive mountain biker. Then, in the summer of 2006, Shannon read Three Cups of Tea - paperback, Penguin Books - 2007, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It’s the story of Mortenson’s failed attempt to climb K2 in Pakistan, and the subsequent quest to establish schools and promote girls’ education in remote mountain communities of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
During a conversation with a girlfriend, Shannon got the idea of creating an organization that would help connect mountain communities to build schools in remote areas of the world. Literally overnight, Mountain to Mountain began. It was intended to support the work of Mortenson’s nonprofit, Central Asia Institute. At around this same time, her daughter, Devon, was born, and Shannon's marriage of nine years ended. But after two years of partnering with registered non-profits, she realized Mountain to Mountain needed to create its own projects and initiatives, and looked to take the giant leap towards Afghanistan.
Shannon traveled to that country in November 2008 for a three-week scouting mission, bringing along photographer Tony Di Zinno to document what they saw, so they could share Afghanistan with people back home, connecting them on a deeper level to their mission. They documented visits to several schools, interviews with female parliamentary members and meeting with other nonprofits working in related fields. Despite the foreign language, customs, women’s oppression, poverty and random violence and security issues, Shannon felt comfortable almost the moment she stepped off the plane during that first visit. Even though she is reasonably confident and independent, there is always that feeling of holding back a part of who she really feels she is — a sense that she should tone down her emotions, desires and expectations around others.
But that November in Kabul, that all changed. Shannon felt calm stepping into uncharted waters of first-ever interviews taken with cabinet ministers to gain insight into the current state of education, women’s rights and Afghanistan’s politics. While attending a buzkashi match - the national sport similar to polo with the president of the Afghan Olympic Buzkashi Federation — thanks to her well-connected translator — doubt didn’t enter into the decision to jump on a buzkashi horse when the challenge was thrown down by the president, despite being the only female around. Often without thinking, just the natural rhythm of being true to herself took over.
Shannon Galpin founded Mountain2Mountain in November 2006. A rape survivor and mother, she realized she couldn’t just stand on the sidelines, watching women and girls routinely raped, oppressed and denied basic human rights. Believing that connecting communities on both sides of the equation was key to finding sources of funding and long-term sustainability for M2M, and that changing perceptions was just as important as tangible projects, she developed events that involved communities and provoked discussion through sport and photography.
At the same time, Shannon developed long-term strategies in conflict areas that focused on cyclical solutions that looked at education, job training and school building as the first steps toward the goal of sustainable community development and individual empowerment rather than the end goal. She started small projects that could serve as starting blocks as she developed the benchmark programs that Mountain2Mountain strives to implement today in girls education, the youth culture, deaf community, women’s prisons and rural healthcare.
Shannon Galpin founded Mountain2Mountain in November 2006. A rape survivor and mother, she realized she couldn’t just stand on the sidelines, watching women and girls routinely raped, oppressed and denied basic human rights. An avid mountain biker, and continually focused on breaking barriers, in 2009, she became the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan, a country where the culture does not allow women to ride bikes. In 2010 she became the first person to ride across Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley. She has been featured on Dateline NBC, Today Show, Huffington Post and in Outside Magazine.
See more at: www.mountain2mountain.org