New York Times Chronicles Graduate’s Global Charity Adventures

kizorek-killer-ants.jpgLandmark Education graduate Bill Kizorek travels to just about every place on earth in his role as a film producer documenting the work of worthy charities. Earlier this month, Kizorek finished his seventh international charity film shoot in Guatemala. His work has made a difference in the lives of poor people on four continents. Some of his previous travels, along with those of his daughter Jessica, his fellow producer and director, were documented by Landmark Education News last year, including their work for fair trade and their donation of a million frequent flyer miles. The New York Times recently interviewed Kizorek, and he recounted many of his global adventures, ranging from the comical to the life-threatening.

If It’s Not the Pickpockets, It’s the Killer Ants

Bill Kizorek, as recounted to New York Times reporter Joan Raymond.

I travel all the time. In the last 10 months, I worked in Jordan, Ghana, Cambodia, Thailand, Congo and Rwanda.

According to the Travelers’ Century Club and its “official list of countries,” I have been in 150 countries. But according to the “official list of nations,” published by International Travel News, I have been in only 108.

While I am on the ground doing my job, I can get absolutely filthy. And I unfortunately often get up close and personal with various insects, including tsetse flies, malarial mosquitoes and fire ants. My wife demands that I don’t bring any of those bugs home in my luggage. She doesn’t want me to get sick from their bites, either.

To help keep my marriage blissful, I take precautions. Last year, I got $750 worth of inoculations, and could have broken the $1,000 mark if I opted for polio and rabies shots and a couple more shots the travel clinic wanted me to get.

I also wear special pants, shirts and socks that repel insects. On a recent five-hour trek through the Congo to see the silverback gorillas, those bug-resistant clothes saved me from the jaws of some aggressive Congolese ants.

Safety is another issue. In Ghana this year, my taxi was rear-ended by an out-of-control semi truck. We landed in a drainage ditch, and I had to kick out the rear window to escape.

I have also been the target of pickpockets. In Argentina, some thieves tried to use the “squirt mustard, let me help you wipe it off” ruse. That entails one thief, usually a woman, squirting mustard on your shirt, while another female thief immediately approaches you with tissues to help you wipe it off while poking her hand in your pocket.

There have been some wild travel moments. Once, before taking off from Rangoon (now called Yangon) to Bangladesh in a Boeing 707, an ashen-faced lady in front knelt on the seat, as if in prayer. She said she overheard the co-pilot tell the captain they should not try to fly the plane. According to her, the captain replied that they had no choice since there were no parts available in Burma (now Myanmar) to repair the plane. We flew under 5,000 feet all the way to Dhaka, and, fortunately, landed safely.

On another flight, I subdued an out-of-control female passenger who hit two attendants in the face. She wasn’t psychotic, but she was dehydrated. I made her drink three big glasses of water. She promptly fell asleep, only to awaken one hour later asking to be my girlfriend. My wife would frown on that. She went back to sleep, and woke up again as I was handing her over to some F.B.I. agents in Anchorage three hours later.

I often witness poverty and the human desperation that comes with it. Many people in other countries view America and Americans as boorish and insensitive. But I beam with pride that so many Americans are changing that view by helping those less fortunate, either by donations of money or services. In my own small way, I hope that I am helping to foster a positive perception of my countrymen. That’s important — so important that putting up with dehydrated passengers, subpar planes and those insects becomes just part of a day’s work.

For information about the filmmaking and travel adventures of Bill and Jessican Kizorek, check out the Two Parrot Productions website.

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3 thoughts on “New York Times Chronicles Graduate’s Global Charity Adventures

  • February 18, 2008 at 11:40 am
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    Hi Bill!

    Thank you for your contribution!

    We would love to include you in our Joy2theWorld.org project!

    We provide micro-loans to empower women and girls in Ghana. In addition to providing loans (ala Mohamed Yunis)we are preparing to generate a green village (solar panels) for electricity and refrigeration in one of our villages. Clinics and scholarships are part of our program.

    Kathleen Gibbs (Team, Management & Leadership Program – San Jose)
    Kay Fajardi – (Team, Management & Leadership Program – LA)

  • March 1, 2008 at 3:10 pm
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    Kathleen, although we have already did a charity filming job in Ghana for LRW (it is posted at the http://www.twoparrot.com website), we would like to get more information from you as to where your projects are in relationship to Accra. I like what you are doing. I would also encourage other Landmark graduates who are involved in international charity efforts to let me know about them. We are planning on donating a million frequent flyer miles in 2008 to charities whose projects we feel are worthwhile. The miles are used to fly a video production crew to the location the charity is working in. We do not rule out USA projects either.

    Bill Kizorek, CEO, Two Parrot Productions

  • May 7, 2008 at 1:44 pm
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    bill call me, bob

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