DAKAR, SENEGAL— I had the opportunity to stay in a village for a week and shadow Tostan, an NGO that works for women’s equality in Senegal. I lived in a village in the Kaolack region that spoke only Pular, a local language that I did not know. Despite the language barrier, I established many bonds with the people of the village. They had no electricity or running water, and the days were long and hot, but I have never lived in the moment as much as I did there. I believe this reflects that happiness exists in relationships, rather than with monetary items. Language is only a barrier if you make it one.
LONDON — I went hang gliding April 22 in the Swiss Alps. Not only was it one of the most adventurous things I have ever done, but it was also one of the best. Standing on the side of the mountain about to take off, I wasn’t scared. Quite the contrary, really. Flying was the most amazing feeling and such an adrenaline rush. I was able to admire the beautiful landscape from an aerial perspective. The bright blue lake, luscious trees and snow-covered hills made for spectacular views. I have never seen anything as naturally breathtaking as the Alps. Interlaken truly is the prettiest place on Earth, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.
HONOLULU — We stopped for a couple of days in Hawaii to refuel, get supplies and go through immigration. We stepped foot on American soil April 25. All of a sudden, we were hearing American slang words, like “bro.” There was a Wal-Mart and other American stores. The best part was that we had cell phone service again. We heard the voices of so many people we have not heard from in the past four months. Currently, we are in the middle of finals and finishing up the semester, and in a few days it will be time to pack our things and prepare to go home. People are ready to go home, but not ready to leave the ship yet. It has become home.