Using Dinners to Open Doorways
Sucheta Rawal and Go Eat Give connect people, places and palates
Sucheta Rawal (B.B.A. ’02, M.S. ‘04) had never left her native India before coming to Georgia State in 1997. Since then, she’s made up for lost time.
Sucheta’s job in finance afforded her the opportunity to travel — four new countries a year, by her estimation. Soon she started blogging about her travels. That blog, combined with the donations she helped gather for volunteer-vacationing groups, became the nonprofit organization Go Eat Give. According to Sucheta, the goal of Go Eat Give is “to raise cultural awareness through food, travel and volunteering.”
Go Eat Give organizes dinners locally at various restaurants to expose guests to the cuisine and culture of countries they might never explore on their own.
“For example, we had an event for Afghanistan,” Sucheta says. “Most people, when they think of Afghanistan, they think about what’s in the news, the war. They never think about what the food or culture is like, let alone travel there. So we had an event where we showcased the food and dance of Afghanistan and had a speaker. After listening to her, the people who attended changed their whole perspective.”
Go Eat Give also assembles volunteer vacation tours that offer visitors a deeper view of a nation’s culture than they’d get at traditional tourist destinations.
For example, on a recent trip to Indonesia, “We went to the beach for one day and spent the rest of the time seeing the culture and volunteering,” Sucheta says. “We had yoga every morning. We went to cooking and batik painting classes. We volunteered at a children’s project and gave workshops on health, nutrition, sanitation and dental care.”
The one-on-one connections her travelers made with the people of Bali — in their homes, schools and churches — had a profound effect, Sucheta says.
“Everybody who came from the Bali trip wanted to sponsor a child to go to school for a year, which costs $30 a month,” she says. “Not a whole lot of money, but now that they were able to see those kids, visit their families and visit their schools, they’re more connected and more likely to give.”