The Journey Within Ourselves

As I embark on what amounts to my twelfth visit outside the United States I am filled with a sense of calm, a sense of the unknown, yet an overwhelming sense of how blessed my journey through life continues to be. Over the course of the next four weeks, I will travel geographically from one end of the earth in New Mexico to what most people would consider the far depths of the world, Africa with stops in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. Along this pathway, I am honored to represent some of the many people and organizations which I am drawn to support given humanity and the potential for improving life for others while building understanding among an ever-shrinking world in which we live in. There is one particular organization, Project PeacePal which builds friendships and understanding between students here in the United States and students from countries around the world that I am excited to be a part of. I am delighted, honored, and privileged to serve as their ambassador along the way on this particular trip. This trip will enable me to visit schools, health clinics, small villages, large cities, speak at some universities and no doubt I will have an opportunity to meet with everyday people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, who have lived through very difficult situations given the history of these countries. I am sure some of their stories will shock, traumatize and challenge me to learn about how evil human beings can be, but also the resiliency of people.

Although it sounds like a cliché, this upcoming journey will not only be of the geographic sense, however, the journey will be an on-going journey within myself and as human beings, we are constantly on a journey within ourselves – in life we always travel alone within our minds. Our body is often one of many bodies that occupy a time and place. If we stop to consider how we impact those around us we can quickly realize that we have an opportunity to make new friends, we have the capacity to share experiences with others and at the end of the day change the world if we dare to live in a way that shapes not only ourselves but others – or we could also just sit back and absorb the air, water, and material matters. As I have heard and believe, we get out of life what we put into it. As I travel forward I inevitably journey backward in time through the fond memories I have of distant places, new friends and amazing experiences. When I have traveled in the past I have been fortunate to take so many people along for the ride. People may not be with me physically, particularly my family and friends who may not have the same opportunities I am so blessed to have over the years, however, you are within my heart and soul, so your impact on my travels with me. My eyes view the world through a shared lens of those who have been a part of my life, but in a way that enables me to constantly continue to appreciate many different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. For each has value beyond our initial understanding, however, the knowledge and insight we can learn is infinite if we take the time to try and learn from others. I have no illusion that I could even begin to understand a culture through a short visit in time, however, as I continue to learn and grow I am open to these new experiences. My travel experiences will also be shaped by the fact that I am an American citizen with a responsibility to represent the best qualities which at times throughout history has represented the good for which America can stand for. I hope that I am viewed from that perspective and not the ugly American that even I despise coming across in foreign lands. I have no illusion that by the luck of being born in the United States I am afforded the ability to travel freely to just about any country throughout the world, yet citizens of other countries are not afforded these same opportunities. Thank you for taking the time to travel along with me, for this will be some of my amazing journey… There is only one way to fully appreciate life and that is to fully live it. Many people wake up on a daily basis and question “why” and I ask “why not”?

(Please note that the updates to follow over the next several weeks will be submitted very quickly given I will not readily have access to technology so forgive me for any edits, spelling and grammar – however I want to try and capture my thoughts in a manner which will allow me to share my journey at any given time, place and with limited access to technology – the primary purpose is to share my experiences with others…).