I’d like to preface my comments with a quote from Henry David Thoreau: “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. Instinctually, we gravitate toward comfort. We are drawn to the familiar. And by that principle, the concept of travel is almost entirely counter-intuitive. Why would one ever wish to leave the place they know best? Travel is a luxury which few have the means to facilitate. However, through my privilege and experiences, I can undoubtedly say that travel has been the best form of education. It instills lessons that you can’t find when confined to what is familiar. It teaches you humility, compassion, and understanding. It forces you to open your mind to a reality that challenges yours in every sense. For me, delving into cultures around the world has been a remarkable experience, and I feel as though every single human deserves the opportunity to do the same.
I have had the extreme privilege of travelling to some of the most beautiful places in the world. There isn’t a day where I don’t acknowledge how blessed I am. I recognize the fact that my circumstance is favorable, and I work every day to make the most of it. With that being said, three of my favorite locations in the world are Peru, France, and Sudan. Each of the aforementioned countries equipped me with knowledge that I still call on today.
Last October, my school organized a service and cultural trip to Peru. While my time there was brief, the imprint left on my mind is permanent. Our primary task during our time there was to construct a girls dormitory building. Many of the students lived ridiculously far away from their local school, which made commuting every day extremely difficult. So, in a matter of three or so days, we near completed an accommodation for them. During this trip, we had the opportunity to explore and experience the culture first hand. Immersion in the truest form.
I love languages. Most notably, I have always been fond of French culture. Two years ago, I was presented with the unique opportunity to apply for a study-abroad scholarship to study in the south of France. Fortunately, I, along with three others, were granted this opportunity and were able to live as the French do for about a month. I attended class every day and lived with a local family in Cannes. This trip was challenging, to say the least, but learning a language is an invaluable skill.
Lastly, in December of last year I had the chance to travel to the Middle East and Sudan. This trip was triggered by my deep interest in my culture in identity. My dad hails from Sudan, but it was a part of my identity that I was completely out of touch with. Consequently, I saw the opportunity to do something bigger than me. So, I did a TEDx Talk on the connection between my culture and identity and the importance of having a relationship between the two. This trip has been the most humbling to date, and hope to travel back soon!
Nothing can enrich the mind and soul in the way that travel can. To immerse yourself completely in a foreign experience is truly other-worldly. If you have the means to travel, don’t hesitate—be on your way! Without question, I can say that travelling has changed my life.