England was a trip full of learning. We had been living with friends and family for weeks in England learning the local way of life, getting inspired by the wonderful art culture, connecting with the small towns and through all of this seeing how LOOTB could be received there.
While we were across the pond we wanted to check out a few other countries in Europe where our customers are from. Belgium was a country where some of our biggest supporters are from and Quinn’s younger sister Kaylee was living Belgium as a Rotary Club exchange student for the year. She invited us to come visit her there and learn all about her new life–the life of a local in Leuven, Belgium.
We are familiar with the awesome work that Rotary Clubs do in developing countries as we worked with some in Central America. There was, however, another side of the Rotary Clubs’ mission that we completely connected with and were excited to see first hand–giving young people the opportunity to travel to a foreign country and understand what life is like there. We wanted to have the same experience that Rotary provides to their students and we were excited to see what daily life in Leuven was like for locals.
We met her family and friends and enjoyed talking to every single one of them. They were all very interesting, well educated, aware of global issues, spoke at least three languages (including English) and had a very strong passion for giving back. We explained to them what we do and what Life Out of the Box is all about. Our company was so well received that it opened up some very enlightening conversations that benefited both us and our new friends.
Leuven is a very young town filled with both high school and college kids. The atmosphere while we were there was electric and fun as hundreds of young people filled the main square to drink beer, eat and talk. We loved the conversations we had with her friends as they were all very passionate about traveling the world and giving back in anyway they could. Some even had plans to go to Africa and volunteer for an organization, which we of course encouraged and were instantly intrigued by.
Many were also very aware of the ethics of companies they bought from–they only wanted to support eco-friendly, sweatshop free or ethically sound companies. The stance on this was quite strong across the board with everyone we met and we admired that a lot about the culture here. This mindset affected how they positively received our products as well because not only does each LOOTB bracelet give school supplies to a child, but it also creates jobs for artisans in developing countries with fair wages. It was really nice talking to people here who supported those ideals over anything else.
On our last day, we all walked around Leuven and observed the beautiful old architecture around us.
We grabbed some Belgian waffles, a few beers and a street sausage to truly get a taste of Belgium. Both the beers and waffles here were made in Belgium and were things that the people here were very proud of. Rightfully so–the beer and the waffles we had were hands down the best we’ve ever had.
We spent a few wonderful days in Leuven and really got to learn about the beautiful life there. Although Belgium is a small country, it’s jam packed with culture, language, great beer and lovely people with educated minds and generous souls. We’re so happy we got to meet the people we did and hear what the youth is really passionate about–it was similar to what we heard from the students at universities we presented to in California and Arizona. Making a difference on the world was a major priority to this generation.
The passion of making the world a better place is evident in Belgium. We share this same passion and seeing this within the people here ignited a fire within us to go to a developing country to see what we could do to help and expand LOOTB. The question was, which one?