Traveling with a purpose

Jasmine and I have been best friends since our college days, not only do we share the same name but we also share a love for travel. Jasmine, Regi, and myself (Jasmine #2) have been travel buddies since our first trip to Washington together in 2010. We enjoyed traveling together so much that we embarked on a even bigger adventure to Thailand in 2014.

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While I enjoy traveling just for fun, I’ve always felt a need to give back or volunteer while visiting another country. I first left the U.S. in 2008 when I traveled to a small village in Nigeria where I volunteered in an orphanage. This was my first experience of learning about another culture but also volunteering my time to help others. I immediately felt at home in Nigeria and bonded with the children in the orphanage.

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From reading stories to sleepovers, and bonding with this little guy,

Me and Issac holding hands

Issac on my back

my experience in Nigeria left me wanting to travel more, volunteer more, and learn more about other cultures.

Me, Issac, Alex, Megan

While studying to get my MSW, I had another opportunity to learn about social policy in Shanghai, China while also meeting some fellow social  workers in China. This was an amazing experience for me because I had the opportunity to meet social workers from other countries, and hear about the ways in which they are making a difference in their country.

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After graduating in 2012 with my MSW I embarked on my biggest adventure to date; I felt in my heart that two weeks,  or two  months, was not enough time to really help a community or learn about a culture, so I joined the Peace Corps.

For two years I lived in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific. While there were so many challenges adjusting to a new culture and way of life, I learned so much. I came into Vanuatu with somewhat of a “savior” complex but what I learned is that the people of that community know what’s best and together great things can be accomplished. Pikini water

Some of the kids in my community coming together to work on the gravity-fed water system we put in the village. Me and Christian

Completion of the community water project with my counterpart, Christian.

Recently, I returned from a trip to Costa Rica to learn Spanish.  Tengo mucho mas Espanol apprender pero mi Espanol es mejor que antes! This was really my first time traveling completely as a solo traveler which was awesome! I stayed with an amazing host family, did some sightseeing, and learned some great dance moves while there. 20170218_133026

Arenal Volcano

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Me standing in front of La Paz Waterfall

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Getting ready to go salsa dancing with my host mom.

Strangely enough it wasn’t until I was around 20 that the thought of traveling to other countries was even a possibility. It can be very intimidating to leave your family, your friends behind, and some of life’s daily comforts even for a short period of time. However, for me pushing myself out of my comfort zone has been so rewarding, and it’s been even more rewarding knowing that I’ve tried to make a difference along the way.  Until the next adventure!

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One thought on “Traveling with a purpose

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