Simbi Foundation Expeditions are now TRIPs (Team Research & Impact Projects). Here’s why we changed the name and how we made our decision.

Thanks to all those who contributed to our survey!

Illustration by Natasha Remarchuk from Icons8

Evolving from The Walking School Bus to Simbi Foundation has given us a chance to consider every aspect of our organization. We’ve spent time looking at our workflows, our operations, and our programs from the outside, to see if any needs or questions have arisen.

One thing that came up multiple times was the name of our research and volunteer-led trips to partner communities: Expeditions.

Through our Expeditions, Simbi researchers collect data for our Think Tank, collaborate with communities to more deeply understand needs, help kickstart new projects, and support schools as they continue their journey towards self-sufficiency.

On reflection, we began to wonder whether ‘expedition’ was the right word to describe this process and the work that our volunteers and communities actually do.

For the last few months, we’ve been consulting with stakeholders, and as a result, we’ve decided to rebrand our Expeditions as TRIPs (Team Research & Impact Projects).

We hope this new name highlights the reasons why we visit partner communities, and clearly shows the aims and intentions of Simbi Foundation teams.

How did we land on TRIPs?

To create our new name, we invited stakeholders of all kinds to have their say, from our volunteers and researchers, through to those who’d previously been on TRIPs, and those currently living and working in partner communities.

TRIPs will not be substantively different in format or content to Expeditions. We’ll still offer volunteers the chance to collaborate with partner communities, make a positive impact to yourself and the world around you, and perform research. In fact, one reason we felt strongly that it was time for something new is that we think the word ‘expedition’ just doesn’t capture any of these valuable activities!

Here’s a snapshot of the results collected from our survey. In polling respondents, we endeavored to make all of our questions as inclusive and unbiased as possible. To read the full report, click here.

Q1. Please share any thoughts you have on the word Expedition. Do you like it? Do you dislike it?

First, we asked respondents about their reactions to the word ‘expedition.’ In response, people discussed the word’s connotations, associations, and how they understood expeditions as a particular kind of journey.

“Expedition gives the activity a sense of purpose. I like it!”

“It reminds me of a car. A Ford Expedition.”

A few liked the word or were neutral towards it, but most raised concerns about accuracy, as well as possible colonial associations. Our respondents felt that the concept of expeditions may be tied to the idea of discovery, when ‘discovery’ is a stand-in for exploitation, poverty tourism, or insensitivity.

“I don’t mind the word, but I think that it could be interpreted incorrectly by others”

“I think of the word expedition as an experience/journey/ project, which I have positive associations with, but I also think of the word as kind of an experiment/mission from outsiders”

Q2. Without looking up the word in a dictionary, how would you define the word Expedition?

Next, we wanted to get a sense of how the word ‘expedition’ is culturally or generally understood, away from any strict dictionary definitions. As it turns out, our stakeholders’ understanding of the word is pretty similar to its definition in current dictionaries:

“A trip or mission, usually rigorous, wild, and undertaken In a far away place, in the pursuit of a specific goal.“

“Journey of discovery.”

“Traveling to an unknown place to research/explore the area for scientific or research purpose.”

Oxford Languages definition: a journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration, scientific research, or war.

Even if many at Simbi Foundation had a good understanding of the word, it was quickly becoming clear that ‘expedition’ didn’t really describe what we do! Far from an exploratory journey to unknown lands, our time in partner communities is well-planned, scheduled, and highly collaborative.

Q3. Inclusivity

After that, we wanted to know whether our stakeholders thought the word ‘expedition’ was inclusive. We didn’t constrain what respondents might mean by inclusivity—and regardless, the results here were mixed:

Q4. If you’ve been on an Expedition with us, do you feel that the word adequately sums up the experience?

Of course, we wanted to find out what those who’d been on previous TRIPs thought, so we asked them directly. Answer: they were on the fence! However, a theme did emerge surrounding the idea that our overseas opportunities serve both volunteers and communities, whereas the notion of an ‘expedition’ may be more one-sided.

“An expedition is more of a personal experience with the aim of fulfilling a challenge, whereas Simbi Foundation trips are more about going to places and caring to those we are visiting, exchanging knowledge and cultures.”

“I choose No because my understanding of the word does not align with the experience I had. That doesn’t mean that the experience was bad — quite the contrary! Just that the word expedition doesn’t translate the experience.”

Q5. Finally, please give between 1 and 3 suggestions for words that you think could be potential substitutions for Expedition?

Last, we opened up the renaming process to everyone, and got back a bunch of great suggestions!

In the end, we landed on the word that we felt described our Expeditions in the simplest, most inclusive, and non-limiting way: trip.

Then, to introduce a little context, we made it an acronym: Team Research & Impact Projects, outlining the two main aims we hope to achieve with every visit to a partner community.

While Simbi Foundation TRIPs are currently indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19, you can still learn about our work, and the on-the-ground experience you could engage in once international travel restrictions are lifted!

Or, if you want to know more about the transition from The Walking School Bus to our current iteration as Simbi Foundation, get in touch!

Education means a brighter future. simbifoundation.org.