Last week on #TRLT’s Twitter travel chat we explored the idea of HOPE and I shared my interpretation of HOPE in this article, originally posted on Triptime Insurance. I’d love for you to share in the comments below your interpretation of the word HOPE or one of those special moments when your journey sparked, rekindling that warm, nourishing sense of hope in mankind.
The benefits of travel and the life lessons/tips you pick up on the road are of immeasurable value and can be utilized, enhancing your life. One of the most enlightening things I experienced during my travels has been the evolution of my interpretation of what HOPE really is.
When I embarked on my first trip abroad at 14 years old, laden with 50 pounds of cumbersome backpacks strapped to my body, all I hoped for was having my old life returned to me. Prior to leaving I savored my final days of normalcy, knowing that what lay before me was unknown, uncomfortable and foreboding. Earlier, my mother, recently separated from my dad, unexpectedly announced one day that we would be ripping up our roots in Canada and backpacking around the world as a family, starting in CHINA. Now looking back at that emotionally traumatizing event, I realize my biggest hopes prior to leaving were that I would receive a Starbucks gift card or a copy of the latest teen magazine. I hoped that when I turned 16 and was able to drive, I would be given an expensive Mercedes Benz convertible like my classmates at my posh, upper-end school. I had walked through life completely unaware, oblivious, to what other children my age or younger were feeling, needing or HOPING for on the other side of the world.
Burned into my mind a scene of one of the 31 children, his dark, overwhelmed eyes filled with hope in a small privately-operated orphanage in a stand-alone building camouflaged by the overgrowth of the jungle just outside of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. According to Unicef (2013) half a million children, aged 5-14, are running loose on the streets of Liberia. Civil wars in Liberia had ravaged families and left hundreds of thousands of children parentless and lacking any protection from an adult. The lucky homeless ones were growing up without electricity, with straw mats for beds and a barebones “classroom” made out of concrete slabs. Their most precious items were a few papers and one text book to share. Water was hauled from a stagnant stream for bathing, washing and drinking. Food was scarce, their diet consisted of boiled rice and greens scrounged from the surrounding jungle. I knew the simplest gift of protein or fruit would satisfy their biggest hopes and needs. Our arrival sparked hope, and as I left an hour later I could feel their 62 probing eyes staring at my back as I walked away; still hopeful that we would return someday with financial support or to take one of them home with us. The children don’t know that it was me going through a metamorphosis and that they had a profound affect on me.
All I know is, I want the new definition of HOPE gifted to me by the children to allow me to remain humble and to continue to value their expression of legitimate hope that I saw reflected in their faces. Hundreds of millions in extreme need around the world reflect that same expression. From that day forward I will keep my “hopes” in check and remember what to value in life. The phrase, “time heals everything” scares me a little, because not only does time heal, but it makes memories and lessons fade, too.
In my books “I Grew My Boobs in China” and “Backpacks and Bra Straps” I share these and many other eye-opening experiences that have made me proud of who I am. Walk with me through my four-year journey of 80 countries, traveling with my family, and experience life at eye-level with a hundred different races and nationalities.
Come join us TODAY at 1pmNYC/6pmUK on “The Road Less Travelled” Twitter chat for THIS WEEK’S live chat on HISTORY. Search the hashtag #TRLT to find us and don’t forget to include the hashtag in your tweets to participate with your fellow travelers! Share your photos and stories. Inspire and be inspired. I am here each and every week hosting the chat with fellow travelers Shane Dallas (public speaker, visited 100+ countries), Jessica Lipowski (accomplished author and “foodie”) and Anton Magnin (specialist in family travel).
Categories: Savannah Grace