"Surviving Vodka Toasts and Rampaging Elephants: My Journey to Purpose" tells the funny, poignant, scary and sometimes embarrassing international travel stories of Phil Latessa and US volunteers while on cultural and professional exchanges thru six countries (Seven if you count Phil's culture shock move from the east coast to Iowa). Phil 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 with Malaysia, and fostered a pizza rebellion of Chinese exchange students in the US. Still convinced that flying and boating is a bad idea, he nevertheless embraced the perils of Aeroflot, valiantly suppressed his fear of the fetid water of Venice on a gondola, and discovered that a massage in some countries is more punishing than relaxing. 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, create support for victims of domestic violence, improve farming techniques, and increase access to medical care for the Tanzanian people, 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 by a series of international visits into a person with a clear purpose. The result of these experiences was the realization that not only can we as Americans do a lot to help people, by 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.