I think we should all strive for that lifelong learning. Happiness so often stems from when we are exploring our passions and expanding that knowledge. For me, traveling is one of those passions I have found to really help stimulate that lifelong learning branch of my happy life. The opportunity to explore that passion further, along with my love for serving others, presented itself to me in the summer of 2017 as I headed to teach in Kenya.
I could go on and on about this trip. The friendships that came out of it, the newfound understanding of true, unconditional love, reminding myself of 5th grade English and Math (yikes), and the incredible appreciation for the things and people around me. There is something in service abroad, especially in countries that provide a completely different experience than what the ‘norm’ is at home, that changes your soul, and lights up your life!
I came away from my trip to Kenya with my heart aching for a home that I created in such a short time, students who I fell in love with every day in class, and a family I built with my fellow travelers. Coming home was a struggle of being completely frustrated at the mindset of my peers, an appreciation for my family, as well as attempting to take my education 10x more seriously, but then also understanding that traveling more, and serving more, will teach me more than I could possibly learn in the classroom for the next year. My new experience flipped my life on it’s head, whilst confirming that I am chasing a dream that is exactly what I am supposed to be doing: serving others, working with children, making myself the best I can be.
Service abroad is a touchy subject for some people. I get asked if I found it through school (no, no school credit), if it was through a religious organization (no, although we talked about religion in class), etc. I also cannot stress enough how service, and traveling, do not have to be married.. I think that the benefits of traveling and vacationing is huge, I understand that there is an absolute need for service in our local communities as well. I’m a community service junkie, and an airplane baby: but melding these two loves of mine to create a whole new passion was the experience of a lifetime.
And I’m happy to say those connections and friendships are still strong months later!