Hello, Hola, Mbaé’chepa, Bonjour, Tashi Deleck, Namaste, Parev, Ni Hao, Sao Di Kaap, Jambo, Assalamualaikum, and Merhaba!
I am a 26 year old American on a journey. The title of this blog is “Change Yourself, Change the World.” I chose this theme because it is a reflection of the way in which I choose to live my life.
Before I started traveling, I had a lifestyle that millions can’t even begin fathom. Not only did I have delicious food to eat, comfortable clothes on my back, and a warm and loving family, but I also had everything I could possibly ever want or need. Even more, I had the privilege of going to a fantastic university in the United States (California Institute of the Arts) and attaining a degree of my choosing, which at the time was a career as a professional musician.
Unfortunately, I developed chronic tendonitis in both of my hands and was unable to drum anymore. In a very depressed state in the Winter of 2007, I felt uninspired and unsure of what my next step in life would be. Searching for guidance, I decided to do the craziest thing I could think of and go to India for three months, volunteering and backpacking with a group of strangers. This experience was brutal at the beginning for a completely novel traveler and sheltered American student who had never traveled outside of the US before. Trying to fit all of the things I desperately ‘needed’ into a humongous backpack, walking miles on end in the sweltering Indian heat, trekking through the Himalayas, trying to understand a completely foreign culture, getting stripped of my identity and feeling vulnerable, homesick, and frequently physically ill… but it was the best experience of my life!
Why? Why were all of these so-called ‘miserable’ experiences so powerful? They were powerful because it forced me to turn around and change myself into something better. It coerced me into stopping and really thinking about my life in relation to others, and it brought a sense of perspective that I had never known existed.
I returned to the US in May 2008 and promptly transferred to Global College/Friend’s World, the only university in the world that allows students to base 3.5 years of their education outside of the United States. From there my travels took off, and nearly 3 years later I have been to 30 countries! My dream has come around full-circle many times over: as a Kiva fellow in Kenya, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, and now as a William J. Clinton fellow in India.
While traveling the world (and living with nine other people in close quarters for eight months, working with three different micro-finance organizations, a non-profit global venture fund in New York, two international fellowships, the US government, and staying at various homestays), I have realized quite a few things about myself in the process. I find myself a passionate social entrepreneur, micro-financier, drummer, musician, avid reader and writer, photographer, videographer, movie-watcher (especially foreign), tree-hugger, and all-around lover of everything that has to do with traveling.
This blog is, in fullness, a winding journey that never stops. I’ve been traveling all over the world since 2008, and I have no intention of stopping!
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