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Sucheta Rawal is an award-winning food and travel writer, author, cooking instructor and philanthropist. As the founder and executive director of Go Eat Give, Sucheta’s personal mission is to raise awareness of global cultures through meaningful travel, good eating, and community interaction.

Sucheta has traveled to 70 countries (and counting), bringing back exclusive experiences, which she shares through writing, speaking engagements and cooking classes. She is author of a series of children’s illustrative books on travel called Beato Goes To meant to inspire young readers to learn about different countries and cultures, as well as develop their own wanderlust. Sucheta was named “Georgia State University’s 40 Under 40 alumna” in 2018, “40 Under 40 best and the brightest” by Georgia Trend magazine in 2016, one of the five most influential bloggers on culture in the world by the Foundation of Florence, Italy in 2012. 

In an exclusive interview, we spoke to Sucheta about her career, including tips for aspiring bloggers and writers.

You founded a non-profit organization called “Go Eat Give.” What does your organization do? And what inspired you to start this idea? 

Volunteering in Bali through Go Eat Give | Photo courtesy of Sucheta Rawal

Go Eat Give is a nonprofit organization with a mission to raise cultural awareness through travel, food and community service. We host destination dinners, cooking classes, and speaker events that bring communities together over food and conversations. We also organize meaningful vacations around the world that include interacting with the local community, volunteering and leaving a positive impact. Think about it as a study abroad program for grown-ups!

I love to travel. But after a few dozen countries I realized that my experiences were not adding any value to me personally. I would stay in a hotel, eat at a tourist trap restaurant, bring the same pictures as all my friends did, and repeated it in another country. That’s when I got the idea of getting off the beaten path and venturing out to seek local experiences such as meeting artists, eating at people’s homes and volunteering my time and skills. Back then the ‘living like a local’ concept had not caught on. As my friends and readers learned about what I was doing, they wanted in. I started organizing trips for them and that’s when Go Eat Give was born.

A few months into launching the organization, I discovered that more people wanted to travel but didn’t necessarily have the means to. That’s why we started culturally enriching fun and educations programs that were not your traditional happy hours. Each time, we would pick a country theme, bring in artists, speakers and authentic food to a neighborhood restaurant and invite the entire city. I have personally discovered over 50 ethnically diverse communities here in Atlanta through Go Eat Give!

Go Eat Give Destination Brazil in Atlanta | Fred Choi

What recommendations would you give to someone who would like to help his or her community, but does not know where to start? 

There are so many ways to get involved. I would recommend you reach out to cultural centers, professional associations and organizations in your area that interest you. Attend their events, offer to volunteer, take a role on the board and help in whatever way you can. Once you find other like-minded people, you will automatically come up with new and creative ways to help your community too.

You are a frequent speaker on sustainable and cultural travel, including at events such The New York Times Travel Show. What recommendations do you have for those interested in becoming a speaker? Specifically, what recommendations do you have for getting invited to speak at The New York Times Travel Show? 

Speaking at New York Times Travel Show 2018 | Photo courtesy of Sucheta Rawal

It’s funny if you had met me in college, you would have never imagined I would become a professional speaker one day. I was an introvert and afraid of public speaking! To overcome my fear, I signed up to be president at one of the student body organizations and forced myself to speak in front of large audiences every single week. With time, I got good at it and started speaking at community schools, colleges, clubs, etc. After a few years, I was speaking in front of hundreds of people at venues around the world.

So, my advice is to start small and overcome your fears. Sign up for Toastmasters if you feel you need some practice. Offer to speak at your alma mater, host workshops in your line of trade, and take leadership roles that require you to speak publicly. Once you build a credible portfolio, you can apply to speak at the New York Times Travel Show or any large forum of your choice!

You have also written several children’s books. What recommendations do you have for those interested in writing children’s books?

Writing children’s books is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. Perhaps you already have a great idea in mind? My recommendation is to start writing no matter what people think or what judgement you have of your work! Build your characters, find a unique theme, relate to your audience and have a message in your books. I have wonderful illustrators who work with me, but you can try doing it yourself or hire someone. Publishers get a lot of pitches daily, so I would recommend you reach out to them only once you have your book ready or at least you have some good quality pages to show.

Sucheta at Jose Fuster’s studio in Cuba | Sucheta Rawal

I wrote this blog to help budding author get started, you can check it out here:

Read Sucheta’s websites and Follow her on Facebook & Twitter and GoEatGive on Instagram & YouTube.