How I Developed a Love for Travel…

At the age of 16 I received the opportunity of a lifetime when I was awarded a scholarship for an all-expense paid trip for 10 days to France. I participated in an after-school program for 5 semesters where I took French classes once a week in addition to taking French during the day at school. After I completed the 5 semesters, I applied for the scholarship. I had to write an essay and I also had to be interviewed in French. To my surprise, I was the student selected to attend on behalf of my school. I was in shock but excited while I would soon be heading to the places I was reading about in my textbook. As a 16-year-old girl, from the South-side of Chicago being raised in a single parent household, I never imagined being blessed with such an opportunity. 

Here it is June 28th, 2004 and I am leaving for Paris, France. I would leave Paris and travel to Provence, Monaco, and Nice, France as well before returning to the US. I was forever changed by that trip and I have had a different view of the world ever since. I learned how to adjust to being in new environments when majority of the people do not look like me nor do they speak the same language. I believe that opportunity played a role in why I was able to adjust so well going to college out of state and not becoming homesick.

Traveling to France and learning the French language intrigued me to want to learn more about the French culture and what they consider to be sacred. Now as an adult when I travel to different places, I keep that same mindset of wanting to learn about the culture regarding the place that I am visiting. Traveling helps to keep your mind open to cultural sensitivity and to the idea that not everyone has the same values, ideologies, traditions, etc. but it helps to have a level of mutual respect and understanding. Traveling also helps one to realize that the world is so much bigger than the city, state, or country that we reside in, but if we do not travel we only limit ourselves to possible life changing encounters that we could have with someone who is completely different from anything we could have ever imagined. 

Outside of what is glamorous when it comes to traveling such as the tourist attractions, the exquisite cuisine, the exotic beaches, the fascinating museums, sometimes there are things you may encounter that are not so glamorous. You may travel for a mission trip or you just may take a trip and find that the majority of the people in the area that you went to visit live in poverty and you were unaware of that prior to traveling. You may learn of the low wages that people are paid but are doing what they can to survive in order to care and support their families. Traveling is honestly something that can not be explained but is something that has to be experienced. I often tell people to start small if you cannot afford a big trip. Explore your own city first by going somewhere you have never gone before, then do the same within the state by traveling to a city (or a destination within a city) that you have never been before.

I challenge you to curate memories and collect moments because TIME is one of the few things that we cannot get back!