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Surviving Vodka Toasts and Rampaging Elephants: A Journey to Life's Purpose

308 pages4 hours


"Surviving Vodka Toasts and Rampaging Elephants" tells the funny, poignant, scary and sometimes embarrassing international travel stories of Phil Latessa and US volunteers on cultural and professional exchanges. He learned the minor art of vodka toasting while remaining standing during medical collaborations in Russia, the intricacies of proper bribery traveling in Ukraine, fell in love with grappa during culinary exchanges in Italy, came to appreciate fish head soup during sports exchanges in Malaysia, and fostered a pizza rebellion of Chinese exchange students in the US. The story culminates in Tanzania where Phil finds his purpose in life while developing cooperative programs that empower women, lower maternal mortality in Maasai villages, and increase access to medical care for the warmest and most resilient people he has ever met.

Magnificent adventures are partnered with outside-the-comfort zone experiences. It took Phil over a million air miles to go from drifting thru life as a mid-level manager, to slowly being transformed into a person with a clear purpose. The results of these experiences was the realization that not only can we Americans do a lot to help people, but also that yes, we should. Phil shows people who want to support these efforts how to do it when they don't know where to begin.

The journey was worth it and the stories are priceless.

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