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Self Transformation

“The most important journey you will take in your life will usually be the one of self transformation. Often, this is the scariest because it requires the greatest changes in your life.”- Shannon L Alder

We grow up in such a degrading society, where our youth is taken before we even know it. Harsh words, bullies, humiliation, and lack of self-love surrounds us before we are even out of grade school. How sad. At one point or another we have all been there, whether we want to admit to it or not. I can remember back to a time or two when I sat on my bedroom floor crying from what others said or did to me. Some may say I’m thin-skinned, and if thats how you feel than so be it. As we grow older our perceptions change a little more. We are constantly wanting to change. Change who we are, what we look like, how feel, and for some, our past background. I can’t speak for the men in situations like this, but from an outsiders standpoint men are grown up to be the “tough guy”. For instance, a little girl falls and the parents coddle her. On the flip side, a little boy falls and the parents tell him to brush it off and keep going. We live in a society that shapes us even as toddlers.

Lets dig a little deeper into my story. My biggest struggle growing up was the way I looked at myself. I hated the way I looked, and for some god awful reason I had a constant thought that I was fat. I couldn’t tell you how many meals I threw out or gave away because I was constantly feeling like I needed to be skinnier. How did this happen? Where can a 9 or 10-year-old learn this behavior. Perhaps it could be the words from other children? Social media? Unfortunately I’m unable to locate the suspect in this case. We grow older and we start to form relationships with friends, family, and boys. Words get exchanged and one misinterpretation leads to another. I can honestly say that from the age of 9 or 10 until 19 I never knew what it was like to “love myself”. Partially if you were one who portrayed yourself as someone who loves everything about yourself, you were looked at as a conceded bitch. Right? During the age of 17-19 I started to take more control of my life. I realized that I wasn’t your typical teenager who you would catch out at a bar, club, frat house and so on. I found happiness outside of alcohol. Wild right? Now I’m not saying I never once stepped foot in any of those places or ever drank alcoholic beverages, but it wasn’t a place that I felt drawn to or needed to be in every weekend. I noticed my mentality started to change and I no longer cared about how I looked. The bigger problem now was trying to fit in with people my age. To the person who made the comment “If you’re going to start hanging around us you’re going to have to start drinking more”. No thank you. I’m not going to change who I am or what I believe just to fit in with people who couldn’t give a damn about me

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My Self Transformation : Leaving the old Emily behind and bringing out the new. Here’s my story on how Africa transformed me into someone I never thought I could be. Lets be real people, we live in America! A bunch of us are closed-minded, selfish, judgmental, sons of bitches. Including myself. We have all done it, you can’t fool me. Anyways, as much as I want to say going to Tanzania was to help the orphans, it was also put into place to help myself. Find who I want to be and what I want to do with my life. It no longer was about me, but it was about the children who needed me. What I learned in Tanzania was to be patient, keep an open mind, find happiness in the darkest moments, and to surround yourself with people who will leave a long-term effect on you.FullSizeRender

Six people had the most effect on me during my time there. 1. Marissa: An inspirational quote of the day keeps the haters away. You are someone who gave me the best insight on how one should live a life to the fullest. Always keeping a positive outlook on yourself and other people truly inspired me to be a better person. 2. Callie: Oh Cal Pal. One of the older volunteers but wiser. Always willing to put her previous experiences on the line just so us young’ins wouldn’t make the same mistakes as she did. You are a leader. 3. Hilda: Loud and Proud. Thats what you are, you are someone who always stands out in the crowd. Making yourself known. Thats bold. I admire that. 4. Aaron: You are someone who is able to take something bad and turn it to good. You found happiness in the darkest times. You are one incredible human being. 5. Emma: Always willing to go the extra mile for someone. Always trying to find the good in someone even if one is bad. 6. Mo: you once told me to listen hard. If you listen hard, you’ll only need to listen once. A man full of wisdom, I like it. 6 people impacted me in the greatest way possible. Each individual brought something to the table that I may have lacked in some areas, but without them I wouldn’t be the person I am right now. I believe so strongly that certain people come into your life for a reason, and while the reason may seem unknown at the moment, it may just take a little longer to figure out the purpose.

I remember the exact moment when I officially was able to say “I Love Myself”. October 13th, 2017  a group of 7 of us spent a weekend away visiting tribes. It was the moment when I looked out into the hazy African sky watching the sun slowly set into the Kilimanjaro tree line. Not long after we laid on top of the safari truck and talked for hours under the beautiful Milky Way. Counting the shooting stars as they flew by. That was the exact moment when I realized that this is me. This was who I am. I didn’t need alcohol, boys, makeup, social media or anything else to define who I was. All I needed was genuine people, a better understanding, and self-love. I love myself. I’ve learned to put aside all the negative comments that are or ever were around me. There will always be someone who will disagree with the way one lives, but it’s up to you on how it will affect your life. Let me ask you this, If today was your last day on Earth would you be happy with the things you’ve done? Would you  wished you had done more? Most importantly do you love the person you are? Processed with VSCO with s3 preset CB93C2B6-535C-4444-B1DF-C99E268F33DD

Where it all Started…

DSC03276Why Africa? What did you do there? Was it with school? You went by yourself?! Questions that are commonly asked but never answered to a full response. Let me start at the beginning. I’d be lying if I said I always dreamt of going to Africa. Growing up I always saw the continent on the map, but I never thought that one day I would grow to love a place so dearly. So this is where you might wonder how I got the grand idea of going, and let me begin by saying, it was my job. It’s crazy to think that my job, which had a negative effect on me, gave me such a positive outcome. Lets rewind a few years. Growing up the most common question asked is, What do you want to be when you grow up? At a young age you say a princess, a doctor, an astronaut, and whatever else comes to mind, but at that age its cute. We are asked again in middle school, What do you want to be when you grow up? Our response? A professional soccer player, veterinarian, police officer, or even a fire fighter. During this time they want you to think a little more seriously about your future, but they don’t push it on you nearly as much as they could. We are asked again just a year or two shy from graduation, What do you want to be when you grow up? The difference between this time and the rest is that you need to have a more realistic answer. When you respond with “I don’t know” it tends to be looked down upon, so sometimes people think it’s better to pick a career path and give it a shot, until 40 years later they’re  looking back at their life wishing they did something different.

For as long as I could remember nursing was the direction I always had planned. As the years went on I started to grow a better understanding of what the profession entailed. People would always tell me that my compassion and empathy towards others would be greatly needed in the profession, but following those words were “It’s also a great paying job, and its job security”. Lets fast forward. At 17 years old I went out on a limb and applied to a hospital in Buffalo. Just weeks after I applied I got a phone call telling me to come in for an interview and before I knew it I was hired. I was beyond ecstatic to be in a place I always dreamed of being in, and to finally have a true insight of what I could potentially be doing for the rest of my life truly intrigued me. A year passes and everything still stood for the future, but not long after things started to change. After taking a different position in another department I started to rethink my future. Throughout the year I started asking nurses if they loved what they do, and almost every nurse responded with no. That alone started to get my wheels turning. How does one go 30, 40, 50 years in a career they don’t love? How does that affect the patients they take care of? Did they settle on something that felt right at the moment because they were too impatient to find a life long dream? Those are questions that always seemed to stick in the back of my head, but could never get answered. I started applying those questions to myself. Would nursing be something I had the true passion for? Something I could spend the next 45 years of my life doing and truly love it? In 20 years when I look back at my life, will I regret the career path I chose? Anyways, a year and a half of frustrations, and stress levels to the max I realized that nursing isn’t  for me. What changed my plans? Africa.

It was during my 16 hour shift that I decided I needed to reset my life. At 3:00 am I sat down, started googling cheap volunteer programs, and researched different countries in Africa. After a long day of helping the overdosed patients, I decided that going to Africa to help people who truly want your help was something that drove me to a sensational feeling. A compulsive idea turned into a new door opening in my life.

People always ask Why Africa? Why can’t you help the people in your own country? My response… Why not? Heres why, Africa is much more than what you see on TV. Its more than the headlines of sex trafficking, raping, robbery, beheading and whatever else you may see. It’s not the horror story that you all think of when you hear it. Its much more than that. Africa is simple. Simply beautiful. It’s the feeling you get when you are woken up for the first time at 5:30 am to the prayers of the locals. Its the feeling you get when you walk down the street and all the local kids surround you smiling like no tomorrow. Its the refreshing feeling you get when its socially acceptable to make small talk on the side of the road with complete strangers. What about the first dola dola experience, or boda boda. The unpredictable moment when you hop in the back of a dola dola and you don’t know whether you’re getting a goat, chicken, or kid thrown on your lap. It’s when you walk for x amount of time and your feet are stained brown from the dirt. Let me tell you something about the dirt in Africa, it’s absolutely beautiful. You can look down a deep red path that seems like it could go on forever , but you know what makes it even more beautiful? Watching the women carry buckets of water or fruits on top of their heads for however long that they have to travel for. Have you ever watched several women picking and harvesting at one field for hours on end? That alone is an incredible sight. Lets talk about the schools, orphanages, and hospitals. Kids running up to you with such excitement, playing with your hair, touching your skin, feeling your clothes. Always eager to learn. Always appreciating everything they have. Holding babies that were once left in a drain and found by a good Samaritan. Being able to share your love with someone who would die to have that love given to them every waking moment of their life, but that’s not how things work out. How about the beauty of child-birth? No HIPPA law. No medications. No time to spare. In and out in a blink of an eye. Those women are by far the strongest human beings known to mankind. As for the volunteers? Its the moment you realize that you are surrounded by people JUST LIKE YOU. Genuine conversations. True understanding. Love that is so pure. Friendships that are meant to last a lifetime. So when people ask, Why Africa? This is why. Africa is a place that once was just another continent on the map but has become a place in my heart. Some might not understand that and thats fine. I was never looking for someone to understand. I just want respect.

Did you go by yourself? Why didn’t you take someone with you? I’m the type of person that doesn’t need someone to hold my hand helping me through my life choices. I’m my own person. I didn’t want to bring someone along just so they can take away from a moment that I needed for myself. I was perfectly capable of doing this by myself and that’s how I liked it.

After two months in Tanzania I realized that the dream job I always wished for was something no longer in the bigger picture. As much as this trip was to help others, it was also put in place to help myself. Help find the person I wanted and needed to be. Help me redirect my future plans. Taking a step back from work I realized that I’m OK with not knowing 100% what I want to do with my career plans. I would rather take the time to know that it wasn’t just something I settled on just because of job security, or pay, but it was something I found true happiness in. To me, happiness is above all. I refuse to settle and so should you.

 

KILIMANJARO

A place many dream to climb but fear to do. For myself, I never dreamt to climb it nor have I ever feared the mountain alone. When I first decided I was going to Tanzania I did  research on things that I could do on the weekends. Top picks like safari, Maasai village, Zanzibar, and Kilimanjaro. After putting a lot of thought into it I decided that climbing to the Roof of Africa is something I couldn’t  pass up. This may be the part where you think I spent months on end training for this climb, but honestly that’s not how the story goes. Weeks before my departure to Tanzania I scrounged up every possible hiking gear I owned, bought a pair of hiking boots, and hoped for the best going forward. Once I arrived in country I figured at some point in the two months I would find a tour group and enough volunteers who would want to climb with me.

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To any of the readers who dream to climb please don’t let what I have to say scare you away, if anything I hope I’m able to persuade your decision on climbing the most beautiful mountain. Shall we begin? After a month in Tanzania I met some of the most incredible human beings. People I can’t see myself living without. Anyways… I was able to round up four other girls to climb Kilimanjaro with me, and without them I don’t know how the hell I would’ve summit that mountain. October 21st, we left Arusha to stay in Moshi for the night. Monkey Adventures (the tour group we decided to go with) stopped into the hostel where we were staying at to go over our pack list for the next six days. After running through everything on what to expect, what to pack, and signing our lives away we rested up for the big day. October 22nd, 2017 at 8:00 am Monkey Adventures picked us up and we left for our adventure. We drove to the rental place to pick any extra gear that may be needed on this journey. Nonetheless  we were dealing with a real heavy dose of African time. While I thought we would be starting our hike at nine or ten in the morning, we didn’t actually start until almost 2 o’clock.

Day one: After about three or four hours waiting at the bottom of Machame route entrance we finally set off for the next six days. The first day was probably one of the best days and here’s why, IT DIDN’T RAIN! This may or may not be a key point in this story so get ready. Walking 4 hours up a gradual incline wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. We passed some of the most incredible sceneries I’ve seen yet in this life. Passing impatient Kilimanjaro plants, vines that made me feel as if I was walking through the Tarzan movie, and breathing in the wet smell of trees and moss. I remember it being so surreal. After a few hours of hiking we finally reached our first camp for the night. With minutes to spare we were able to catch the sunset over the top of Kilimanjaro. Little did we know this was going to be the only sunset we would see on the mountain. Lesson number one: appreciate the little things in the moment because you never know what’ll be next. After signing into camp we changed into different clothes, and sat down for our first dinner on the mountain. We started the meal off with a hot cup of tea and popcorn. After we were served with a delicious stew! Once we finished eating we gathered our belongings and headed to bed.

Day two: After drinking 4 liters of water during the previous day of course I was going to have to pee during the night. I had woken up at midnight and three am, but the difference between both times of waking up was that at midnight when I stepped outside the tent I remember looking up to a galaxy of stars, but at 3 am I was woken up by a peaceful sound of rain hitting the tent.  At 5:50 am I am woken up to the tapping on the outside of my tent. Jonathan and Hussen are waiting ever so patiently outside with hot water for our tea and coffee. After a few attempts of waking Callie up I decided to let Jonathan do the rest of the work. Barley awake I dress myself, pack my bag for the day, and roll up my sleeping bag. As I stepped outside the tent the guys are standing there smiling from ear to ear. I grabbed the tea they made for me and walked fast to the mess tent, trying not to get soaked before our six to eight-hour hike. Ellen and I both waited for the rest of the girls to pile in. Once everyone arrived we were served our first portion of breakfast, porridge. I can’t say it was my favorite part of the meal but I tried my best to at least get a few sips in. We were then served a platter of eggs, toast, sausage, and fruit. That my friends was much more enjoyable to eat. By 7-7:30 we set out for our hike. Walking pole pole (slowly slowly) we hiked 6 hours through the thick fog, pouring rain, and cold temperatures. I remember only being an hour or two into the hike and being completely soaked from head to toe. The walk itself wasn’t half bad. I carefully watched my footing on the wet rocks and tried to enjoy the scenery as much as possible. The fog seemed to really take away from the beauty of the mountain but I still found it to be an incredible view. After hours of stopping numerous times to chase the monkey and shivering like no tomorrow, we finally arrived to camp for the night. Wet, cold, and tired the only thing we wanted was our dry tent. Unfortunately that’s not what we got. Our bags that the porters had carried up the mountain for us no longer had dry clothes in it, instead we were stuck with changing into damp or even soaked clothes. Some sleeping bags got wet and the mattresses we were supposed to sleep on were wet as well. Miserable was the only word coming to mind at the moment. We ate dinner and miserably went back to the tent for the night.

Day three: Another morning being woken up to the tapping outside our tent. I didn’t sleep well during the night, and by well I mean at all. I dressed myself, packed my bags, rolled my sleeping bag up, and headed for the mess tent. As I stepped outside the tent I looked up to a slightly sunny but foggy morning. It didn’t look 100% promising but I would take it. The mountain was stunning. Almost something you would see out of a movie. From a distance a tour group was singing and dancing to the KILIMANJARO song. Lesson number two: find a career that you couldn’t imagine going a day without. Hearing the happiness in their voices and the smiles that were ever-so radiant it made me think twice on my future career. I continued on and sat down for breakfast. Callie, Gemma, Ellen, Danielle and I all prayed to the mountain gods that today was going to be rain free day. Tino and Emmanuel talked about our day to come and by 7:30 we were off for the day. The first two hours was absolutely peaceful. I slowly found myself getting lost into my thoughts. Thinking about everything and anything. I always heard people say stuff about the mountain curing all problems and that alone is a fact that I can stand by. After two hours the rain started to come again. Luckily we only had an hour or two longer until we reached Lava Tower. We were only at Lava Tower to acclimate to the elevation and eat lunch. Wet and cold once again we made our way down in elevation to Barranco Camp for the night. We walked through Moorland to the alpine desert. It was all so beautiful. I liked to stay behind the group to really take in the scenery. I asked questions about the plants, rocks, and Kilimanjaro alone. The hike itself wasn’t bad. A gradual incline with a spot or two that was tricky. Once we arrived to Barranco Camp we signed in, got dressed, and ate dinner. Sharing lots of laughs, memories, and genuine conversations the time passed until it was bed time. Another night Callie got to spend with me coughing and hacking up my lungs.

Day four: I didn’t sleep again. I walked outside the tent around 2:00 am to a beautiful starry night. Coughing and uncomfortable I went into the tent until 5:50 am. Lesson number three: if the mountain wasn’t going to physically or mentally challenge me something had to. If you want something enough, you’ll have to work that much harder for it, and that’s exactly what I did. The upper respiratory infection that I was so greatly blessed with on this mountain was the one thing that was either going to make or break me. I gathered my belongings and stepped outside the tent at 6:00 am. I was by far the happiest human being. It was a chilly morning but a beautiful morning. At 13,000 ft above sea level I was already well above the clouds. I watched the sunrise and the frost slowly melt away from the plants and rocks. As I looked into the distance I saw the day we had planned for us and man was I nervous. Barranco wall. Yes, it’s exactly how it sounds. A wall. We hiked pole pole. During the first few hours of the hike I would have considered it being sketchy. We reached a point in the wall where they called it the kissing rock. Why? Because you basically had to kiss the wall and hold on for dear life or your life may be over. Readers, it’s not as bad as you think. Well unless you’re not an adrenaline junky like myself. Anyways, today was probably the most physically demanding day that there was, but even then it wasn’t anything impossible. After a few  hours on what seemed like a never-ending slope we finally reached the top. It was well worth every hard time on that wall. We took a 10 to 15 minute break at the top and took pictures of us being in and above the clouds. After that we continued through the alpine desert. The last couple hours of the hike wasn’t nearly as bad as the first couple. It was filled with mostly downhills, gradual inclines, and steady flat walkways. After 8 hours Barafu Camp (base camp) was in sight. We had one more big hill to accomplish before we got to the top of base camp. I was beyond exhausted at this point. Emmanuel did more than enough to push me to keep going, so I did. Almost to camp I was struggling to breath  so Emmanuel took a little weight off my back and carried my backpack the rest of the way. As stubborn as I am, it was almost impossible for me to hand the bag over. Walking pole pole Callie and I made it together to base camp. We arrived around 5:00pm. We all gathered in the mess tent and talked about the night to come. Callie, if you’re reading this    the night turned pretty shitty (wink wink).

We ate dinner and talked about the time we had to get up for summit. At this point I wasn’t well, and the guides saw it but there was no way I was turning back. Thankfully I wasn’t presenting any symptoms for elevation sickness but instead an upper respiratory infection. When Emmanuel and Tino expressed their concerns on how they felt about me going further I immediately struck back with “I made this far, I’m not turning back. Im making it to the Roof of Africa come Hell or high water. I don’t care how long it’ll take me I’ll make it to the top”.  I knew that everyone slightly doubted me and my ability to get to the top, yet everyone was so supportive. At this point we were pushing 7:00 pm and everyone headed to bed so that we could be up by midnight for summit. I didn’t sleep. I was exhausted. I could barley breath. Trying not to wake the girls I stepped outside the tent to catch a breath of fresh air. I remember so vividly walking outside at 9:30pm to a galaxy of stars looking down at me and tears filling my eyes. It was a breath-taking moment, literally. I remember thinking how astronomy isn’t appreciated enough, and it seemed like the stars shined brighter than ever on top of the mountain compared to anywhere else in the world. I walked to the mess tent where all the porters slept and asked the cook to boil hot water so I can try to clear my sinuses up. After about 15 minutes I went back to the tent and waited for time to pass.

Day five: I waited patiently for Hussen and Jonathan to give us our wake up call. It was midnight and I was running on no sleep for three days. Everything I was supposed to wear for summit night I wore to bed. I slowly got out of bed and headed to the tent where all our bags were. Gemma and I were gathering our belongings. After about 5 minutes of struggling to put my sleeping bag away I sat there and cried. I didn’t understand why I had to get this damn upper respiratory infection when I was on the mountain. Everything in me wanted to quit but there was something more pushing me to keep going. Waiting at the table inside was a light breakfast that I was unable to eat. I packed away the juice box, chocolate, and crackers. At 12:15 am we left for summit.

I told Emmanuel that I was going to the top it was just going to take me a little extra time. After about an hour and a half Callie and I both broke away from the rest of the crew. Tears filled my eyes when the girls hugged Cal and I goodbye. As supportive as they  were, they told me I made it farther than they ever would if they were as sick as me. Hearing that I just felt like they weren’t going to expect me at Uhuru Peak but I thought otherwise. Pole Pole. Thank god for Callie. She was by far one of the greatest support systems on the mountain. After every 5-10 minutes of walking I had to stop and catch a breather. I remember telling myself I made it this far, there’s no turning back. At 5200 meters (17,060 ft) I told Emmanuel I need to have a moment. I cried the words “I want to quit but I don’t want to quit”. Lesson number four: if you can overcome your mind you can drive your body to whatever measure. Push yourself even when you feel like there’s nothing left. Shortly after we realized we were not going to reach summit before sunrise, so instead we watched the sunrise of Mawenzi Peak. It was the most incredible view I have ever seen. To keep us going Emmanuel told us the end was near. The last two or three hours of the climb was the longest and hardest. We could see Stella point at a distance but it was a never-ending hike. When we finally reached we were told we still had an hour to go. How? Everyone looks so close. I kept pushing forward, Random people from all over the world cheering you on while you are on your final stretch. “You’re so close, Keeping going. You got it”.

Every step I took, the closer I got, the better I felt. Callie ended up getting about 50 yards ahead of me. Eventually the hour flew by and before I knew it I was welcomed by Callie and Ellen. The second I made eye contact with Ellen, both our eyes filled with happy tears. She told me how proud she was of me and that alone made the waterworks flow like crazy. Open arms waited for me by the rest of the crew. Lesson number five: when you think you can’t, you can. There was so many moments during summit night that I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I did. I kept pushing forward. I kept a semi positive attitude and I didn’t give up. When you think you can’t, always remember you can. As I stood there waiting for my turn in front of UHURU PEAK sign I studied every possible thing on the mountain. I looked out to miles and miles of clouds below me. I looked out peacefully to the way the earth rounds. I studied the glaciers that soon will just be history engraved in the mountain. I took a deep breath of the crisp thin air and told myself I made it. I summit the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Africa’s tallest mountain, and number four of the seven summits even when all odds were against me. That alone is an indescribable moment. Lesson number six: in the 5 days of hiking to this point I realized that life shouldn’t be measured by money or the materialistic things in life. Life should be measured by happiness and memories. It took me 5 days on a mountain to realize that I spent 20 years worrying about what people thought of me, how I dressed, what I was driving, and how nice of an apartment I have was actually irrelevant to what matters in life. Reaching summit has taught me an ungodly amount of life lessons. My favorite? life doesn’t have to be a rush. Pole Pole. Slow down, enjoy the views, because before you know it it’ll be gone in a blink of an eye.  Lesson number seven: it takes a whole whopping village to get to the top of this mountain. I couldn’t have made it to the top without the support from Callie, Gemma, Danielle, and Ellen. My rock on this mountain hands down goes to Emmanuel, and to all the porters Asante Sana. You guys are the real heroes! I can finish this story off by telling you that I walked down the mountain in a day but there is really no crazy story to tell, so I mine as well just end it here. Cliff hanger right?

Travel with a Purpose

Everyone travels for their own specific reasons. Some travel to catch a break from the workplace, others do it to spend quality time with friends and family. Whatever the reasoning is, we all do it. Me on the other hand? I travel with a purpose. I travel to spread my love to the less fortunate. I travel to inspire others. I travel to immerse myself into a culture that’s unlike any other. This is only beginning. Are you ready?

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April, 2017 I decided I wanted to do my first solo trip to Africa for two months. At the time I wasn’t 100% sure what country I wanted to visit, I just knew that I needed to go. After three years of college I felt like everything came to a halt. My perspective on life changed and I realized that what I thought I could see myself doing for the rest of my life was no longer in the picture. Taking a semester off seemed like a good idea, but to spend a couple of months working wasn’t on my list to do either. After hours of research and a long thought process I came to conclusion that if I was going to take a semester off it was to help people who truly needed it. Digging deeper into organizations and countries that would spark me the most I decided on IVHQ Tanzania. From June to September I worked endless hours to save up for this trip. The hardest part about organizing this trip was the criticism from everyone around me. Comments like, “You’re going to Africa by yourself?”, “Aren’t you afraid of kidnappings and sex trafficking?” ,”You know there is people in our own country who need help too”. While all those comments could’ve persuaded  me to stay in America, it did exactly the opposite. I took into account the words of others, and while it did frighten me a tad, I was willing to take the risk.

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I am one to believe that you can do anything and everything you want in life, but what seems to hold most of us back is fear. I could’ve let fear hold me back from chasing something that ignites my soul but I didn’t. Was I nervous? Absolutely. One month before departure I read up on other volunteers blogs. I wanted to see what I was getting myself into. Eventually I had to stop. I couldn’t keep reading someone’s experience and expect mine to turn out that way. I realized that going into this there was two key points I needed to keep in mind. The first one, keep an open mind. From what I read people either love or hate Africa, and I can’t let others alter how I may feel. The second one, be fearless. Try things that will scare you and make you think twice. By the way, you only live once right? Anyways, September 13, 2017 at 5:20 pm I set out for the greatest accomplishment and adventure. I was traveling with a purpose. I was going to be living in Arusha, Tanzania for two months to help kids in orphanages. My soul purpose of traveling was to help the children of Africa, and that’s exactly what I did.