It recently came to my attention that despite all the blogging we’ve done, the main goals of our trip/documentary are still kind of unclear. That’s a problem! Despite the fact that our trip is largely unplanned as far as day-to-day specifics, we need to have a solid overall purpose. So I forced myself to sit down and write out the three main elements of our project. I hope this helps you understand the project more! Here they are:
1. Volunteering: WWOOFing is something that we are all very excited about. I know it is agricultural volunteering vs. working mainly with people, BUT many of these farms are benefiting local communities in awesome ways (e.g. teaching sustainable agriculture to villagers, starting income-generating activities in their areas, and helping prevent environmental degradation (which is a HUGE problem in south america)). WWOOFing is going to provide us an opportunity to help on organic farms, learn all about their methods so we can spread our knowledge, and get to know the local people. As far as volunteering in orphanages and other places, we DEFINITELY plan to do that. But from everything I’ve read, the easiest way is to just GO and find places that accept help once we’re there. Many organizations that organize volunteers like this charge a huge overhead (which doesn’t go back to the community) and are merely cookie-cutter volunteer tourism which is very questionable as far as actual impact and sustainability. I feel like these trips are a great way to start volunteering, but that I am past that now that I have more knowledge of global development. We will have a more authentic experience by having our couchsurfing hosts and the locals we meet help us find smaller places we can volunteer (there are TONS of opportunities beyond those few that are big/rich enough to have an online presence in the U.S.). So a huge part of our trip and the documentary will be about volunteering.
2. Learning: In all my trips and volunteer experiences I have learned so much more than I have taught or contributed. I have learned more than in my entire college career through traveling. It is amazing. We are going to learn a new language, new cultures, see new sights, learn how to survive in developing countries, learn new skills, learn about farming, etc. etc. That’s why the trailer emphasizes our desire to learn more than the volunteering aspect. I feel now that’s it’s actually naive and pretentious to assume that we will HELP SO MUCH and do SO MUCH GOOD, when in reality we will be the ones gaining so much knowledge. The documentary will emphasize the power of travel as education and encourage others to travel.
3. Self-discovery through travel: Do you remember your early 20s? I don’t think it’s uncommon at our age to be slightly unsure of yourself, not sure of what path you want to take, questioning the status quo and struggling to realize WHO YOU ARE. Is that a bunch of psychobabble or do you remember feeling like that? Well, we think that travel is a great way to experience the world and help define who you are and what you want to do in life. As Melissa says in the trailer “The 3 of us really want to DO something; we don’t feel satisfied with the idea of graduating college and starting a career in America right away.” So if we don’t feel satisfied doing that and we have the opportunity to do something different, why wouldn’t we? I count my blessings every day that I am in a position with no debt and nothing holding me here and that I am ABLE to do this. I think God wants us to follow our dreams, rather than stick with what “most people” do just because it is normal. We expect to learn a lot about ourselves and the documentary will tell the story of our psychological journeys of self-discovery, as well as our physical journey.
I know that these goals still sound a little vague, but it’s impossible to really plan such a long adventure down to the details! We are so excited to see what happens as we go with these goals in mind!