Over the past couple of years of trying to decide what I want to ‘be’ when I’m older, I have simply not been able to. I have however; found one of my goals in life- exploring my passions for culture and languages by travelling, learning, and studying.
My first venture in following my passions led me to South Africa in the summer of 2010. After six short weeks of rehabilitating injured penguins, jumping out of planes, and swimming with sharks, I realized I had learned more about myself and life than I had in three years of high school. Feeding bad tempered and finicky penguins taught me patience and perseverance. Skydiving, shark cage diving, and medicating penguins showed me that I had confidence to do whatever I put my mind to. Throughout each these experiences in South Africa I was surrounded by people that had come from different cultures and spoke different languages, such as French, German, Japanese, and Afrikaans. After learning about the different lands that my friends and my Dutch host-mom and grandmother came from, I knew I had to have more. My experiences over these six weeks gave me an intense desire and eagerness to see more of the world, what it could offer me, and what I could learn from it.
Once I had a taste of the world outside my ‘private school bubble’, I knew I couldn’t live without exploring and learning more. And thus, as high school came to an end, I found myself travelling to the Ecuadorian Amazon where I’ve lived for the past year with an indigenous Kichwa family. A short walk from my house are caverns, which belong to the foundation I work for, Ruku Kaisai, which is dedicated to preserving their cultural heritage. The first few months at the Cavernas de Jumandy taught me how to: use a machete, become a cavern guide, and teach English. Although I’m not looking to spend my life doing machete work on a farm, guide people through caves, or even teach English, these aspects of my daily life have taught me how to adapt to a different culture and way of life.
Now that I have fully immersed myself in a different culture and become fluent in Spanish, my goals for the future have solidified. It is my passions that will lead to and uncover my future goals whether it is learning Arabic in Egypt, French in France, or a completely different path. One thing is for sure; I will learn as much as I can about cultures and languages, my core passions, by whatever means present themselves to me.