Sunday, February 20, 2005

Vagabonding at its Finest

Balinese Children by Carl Parkes

Ever wanted to quit your job and hit the road for a few years, but also do something worthwhile to satisfy your soul and help improve the world's situation? Looks like this young lady from Silicon Valley has found the perfect combination of travel and good deeds.

After I completed and received my degree from Santa Clara University in the Silicon Valley, I moved to San Diego, found a job in an office tower and put nothing less than every drop of my passion into it. I worked 80-hour weeks, slept under my desk on weekends, and quickly became one of the highest paid employees in the company. But after two years of this life, I sat up from my computer one day and realized this; I had a successful job with prestige, an apartment by the beach, a nice car, a pretty boyfriend, and an income greater than that of my parents combined…and it wasn’t enough. Or rather it was enough. It was too much. I was grasping at the wrong dream, desperately clenching onto the airy and materialistic notions of a magazine dream, instead of picking myself up and pursuing my own.

And that’s how I learned that sometimes we spend a lot of lives learning not what we want to do, but what we do not want to do. And that’s okay. It’s not important how many mistakes we make, only that we learn from those we do.

So where was I to go? I had no idea. But on an intuitive whim, I caught a clue as to where I could go to find MY dream. So I sold everything I owned, strapped on a backpack and left the country...

I spent the next four years travelling over six continents and through forty-something countries: working with the children living in the squatter community in the dumpster of Guatemala, building houses for Habitat for Humanity in Fijian villages, strolling the beaches of Costa Rica at midnight keeping the eggs of Leatherback turtles safe from poachers, fighting off Lantana from overtaking the native plant species of Eastern Australia, giving daily massages to the crippled limbs of those left at the Mother Teresa House of the Destitute, preparing the gardens for feeding an orphanage in India, teaching English to refugee monks who escaped from Tibet, and, most recently, planting trees in a reforestation effort in Coastal Ecuador.

Over the course of those years, attending the prestigious "University of Life," I found my path and my passion in "service learning" and in what Dragons calls in its mission statement, "experiential education," which simply means -- using the world as our living classroom and our real experiences and interactions within it as the lesson plan.

So having found my own life-driving inspiration abroad, I quickly realized that the only thing that matched my excitement in making my own reality-quaking revelations was watching, guiding, and sharing that process of "travel-induced-enlightenments" with others -- specifically, with young, enthusiastic and inspired people like you!

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