Having volunteered at an orphanage in Kenya, trekked around glaciers and lagoons in Torres del Paine, kayaked in the rough Adriatic Sea off Dubrovnik, witnessed the Saints win Superbowl in New Orleans, and flirted with penguins in Antarctica, Longy (Longzhen) Han has definitely experienced her fair share of epic travel experiences.
Having independently traveled across all 7 continents, this intrepid traveler is inspiring other young adults to get out there and experience the world, however adventurer by day and children’s book author by night, she is also aiming to bring the world to young children through a colorful and captivating picture book series “Gusto and Gecko”.
More than impressed by Longy’s dedication to inspire children to discover and learn about the world in which they live, this week’s traveler interview is an introduction to Gusto and Gecko!
What do you love the most about travelling?
I’m addicted to travelling because it helps me to learn more about the world and myself. Travelling makes me feel ‘alive’ because it pushes me outside of my comfort zone and makes me a better person.
At 25, I’ve travelled independently across 7 continents, over 30 countries and 90 cities mostly on a shoestring budget. It is because of these amazing experiences that have inspired me to write the Gusto & Gecko picture book series.
Life is too short to squander time doing something that I’m not passionate about because time won’t wait around for me to ‘live’.
Why do you think travelling is an interesting and important concept for young children?
Travel is education. It exposes children to new experiences and teaches them important life-skills such as adaptability, resourcefulness and critical thinking.
It also provides children with first hand knowledge of different cultures, traditions and lifestyles. So even at a young age, travelling teaches kids how to get along with diverse kinds of people and celebrate differences.
If travelling can broaden children’s horizons, inspire curiosity about our world and give parents unique opportunity to better bond with the young ones, then what is there not to like about travelling?
What inspired the concept of a children’s picture travel book?
My love for travel, my fascination with children’s stories and my desire to bring the world to young children.
Growing up, I’ve always loved children’s picture books because they’re such great fun to read and they played a big part in my childhood.
When I first arrived in Australia, I didn’t speak a word of English so I submerged myself in reading children’s books before eventually catching up to other kids my age.
How do you hope the Gusto & Gecko campaign will make a difference?
An important part of the Gusto & Gecko campaign is about giving back to the community. I am a firm advocate for literacy because I believe it lays the foundation for lifelong learning and it is a tool of personal empowerment.
Being able to read and have access to good books can play a big part in introducing kids to new ideas, broadening their horizons and fostering better understanding of the big world. As their capacity to read grows, so will their understanding and appreciation of the different cultures, traditions and people around them.
So I am donating AUD$1,000 of the fund raised in the crowdfunding campaign to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, an Australian charity dedicated to raising literacy levels amongst indigenous children living in remote and isolated areas in Australia.
I have also committed to book donations to major Australian children’s hospitals, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, primary schools and kindergartens.
I hope Gusto & Gecko will spread happiness amongst kids all over the world and provide those who haven’t travelled an opportunity to “experience” the world in the comfort of their homes.
What can readers expect?
Readers will join our intrepid heroes – Gusto who always on the hunt for adventure and Gecko, his faithful pet companion, on an epic journey to discover animals in the wildebeest migration.
Gusto, after accidentally stepping on a sleeping lion, must run for his life. Yet, with every step he takes, Gusto seems to find himself in more trouble!
Will Gecko be able to save him? Along the way, readers will also learn collective nouns and practise counting.
What do you want to teach children about the world in which we live?
The aim of the Gusto & Gecko’s series is to:
- introduce children to various animals, plants, food and landscapes;
- broaden their horizons and inspire curiosity about our world; and
- foster a better understanding and awareness of different cultures and traditions.
I hope through Gusto & Gecko, kids will be inspired to discover the amazing world in which we live.
Why should this project matter to people?
Gusto & Gecko is for kids big and small. The core idea behind Gusto & Gecko is like creating a Lonely Planet guide for children.
Parents who are passionate about travel and discovery, appreciate this amazing world we live in will now be able to share that with the young ones. If they have already visited the country, then will feel connected with the book when they read it to the young ones and you never know, parents might also learn a thing or two about the country!
This project is a worthwhile one because not only does it aim to produce a it focuses on giving back to the community.
How can people help bring this project to life and how will their investment be used?
Those interested in the project can check out our Pozible campaign page and if they are feeling generous, they can make a pledge to the Gusto & Gecko project.
All money raised through this crowd-funding campaign will cover the costs of editing, illustrating, printing, allocation of ISBN and distribution of the first book. Plus, 10% of it will go to charity!
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