as a girl scout, i have had a variety of entertaining adventures. i camped. i had my own cookie business. i traveled. i learned how to change car tires. i was leader-in-training for a habitat for humanity neighborhood troop. i went to business camp. i was in an association of young women who ran activities and events that developed our leadership. during all of these activities, i enjoyed serving and supporting others the most. and i never expected any recognition.
my most life changing experience happened when i was 15 and got my very first passport. i needed one because i was selected to go to england for international camp and to visit pax lodge! since then i’ve traveled extensively through girl scouting.
in 2003, i went to haiti to complete my gold award project called kites for kids. we built solar ovens, conducted training sessions for local communities and distributed kites and toys that i had previously collected during donation drives. after i finished college, i volunteered for 5 months at sangam world centre in india where my love for international guiding and girl scouting, and traveling, was cemented for life.
girl scouting even introduced me to peace corps! i was in 6th grade when an adult member told me that she had done peace corps. it sounded like the most amazing experience in the world and i knew that i was going to do it one day!
i was a peace corps volunteer in zambia. i lived in a mud brick hut with a grass thatch roof in the middle of the bush. my water came from an open well 50 yards from my front door. the nearest electricity source was 35 kilometers (21 miles) away. i spent 2 years biking around the village: supporting the school, visiting neighbors, spending time at the clinic and chatting with hilarious old ladies.
i learned that no matter where you are in the world, life is tough. clean water, food, housing, medicine and education aren’t guaranteed. despite these hardships, we are all people, trying to survive and make our world better for the next generation.
during my time in zambia, my mind was often in sangam and india. so after i finished peace corps, i applied to be a sangam intern. i was accepted and off to india i went as community relations intern. i was just going for a year. 6 years later, i left as deputy world centre manager: operations.
working and living in india taught me how to work around, and through, any obstacle. kicking a hole through a wall turns into redoing the entire plumbing and sewage system. having to reboot a 5 year old server every other week turns into reconfiguring office space to create a dedicated server room with a brand new server. ordering more and more tankers to fill up a leaky swimming pool turns into building a brand new swimming pool. nothing in life comes easy, and sometimes it takes years to find solutions, but everything is possible.
i understand the importance of ‘using resources wisely’ and have gained the life skills to live that motto. i’ve met girl guiding and girl scouting sisters all around the world, i have places to stay on most continents (just haven’t met someone who lives in antartica – yet!).
i believe that empowering girls and young women will change our world because i’ve seen the changes that happen when you do! my host sister in zambia was pregnant and at risk for dropping out of school. family and friends in the us raised funds, collected baby formula and bottles and sent dozens of boxes to us. the baby could now be bottle feed while jacqueline went to school to complete her final year!
i’ve had numerous adventures and countless challenges, but it turns out that my highest, and toughest, adventure is yet to come…
over the years, i’ve learned a lot about myself. i can bungee jump. i can find a drink anywhere. i can navigate airports, missed connections and lost luggage. but when it comes to physical activity, i take the path of least resistance – which actually means i do nothing. it’s time to present myself with an opportunity to challenge my very sedentary daily habits.
i have an intense obsession with the himalayas, hiking and rock climbing and mount everest. i watch documentaries, follow hiking and climbing blogs and faithfully watch the lucky few who attempt mount everest summits every april and may. yet i have no physical desire to hike or rock climb or summit mount everest or do much of anything that requires shoes… until now!
i’m going hiking. this april. in the himalayas.
because if i’m going to challenge myself, it might as well be in the place that i’ve seen in countless hours of documentaries. and if that just so happens to be in the highest mountain range in the world, i guess that’s what’s going to happen! go big or go home! right?!
this adventure is going to be different. on previous trips, i’ve written letters to friends and family. i’ve written hundreds of pages of journal entries. i’ve even blogged a bit. but nothing has been regular or reached a wide audience. and i’ve never made goals for an adventure. that is about to change!
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