It is quite remarkable how easily travel can elicit a new perspective on life. An individual’s perceptions of the world around them can change the minute they step foot on foreign soil.
Traveling with a Purpose
From the differences in climate and altitude, to the array of exotic and unfamiliar vegetation, to the overwhelming immensity of mountains, to the differences in the salinity and clarity of the water, travel influences all. When the sun sets below the horizon, you can look up at the constellations and find that they are arranged differently due to your location on the globe, even though they are the same stars that you have stared at in your back yard for years.
Just as there are differences in the environment, so are there distinctions among people. As you walk the streets and dirt paths of cities and villages, you’ll observe locals, each with their own responsibilities, routines, schedules, and stories equally as complex as yours. These people experience the same feelings and emotions as you, yet live completely different lives often in vastly different conditions.
Your eyes will capture new cultures and traditions that you’ve never witnessed before. For a brief period, you will find yourself partaking in these traditions, integrating with the culture and meeting new people until it comes time to return home. Ultimately, you’re left with a collection of experiences and adventures that become cherished memories and a part of your story. A story that you will tell others one day.
My name is Nico, and on behalf of Impulse Odyssey, I would like to share with you a part of my story.
I have traveled to over 20 countries and regions across the globe. I document most of my journeys, for I enjoy reflecting on the things that I have seen and the adventures that I have experienced. It allows me to analyze and compare the cultures and details that I observe during my travels. However, it was during my time in Peru that I found purpose and direction in what I might want to do in life.
Last winter, I was given the opportunity to take part in a medical mission trip to Peru through Volunteers Around the World. I landed in Cusco, Peru along with a handful of other students that I grew very close with. Together, we scaled the steps of Machu Picchu, trekked on 3 hour hikes at altitudes of 16,000 ft., and explored ancient cities and ruins. In addition to sightseeing, we also visited a university, a hospital, an elderly home, an orphanage, and set up a clinic on the outskirts of the city.
It was during these visits that we were able to help and engage with locals. At the elderly home, we helped cute old people play Bingo which resulted in most of them falling asleep, and at the all-girl orphanage, we played with the girls on the playground and brought goodie bags for them filled with pens, stickers, and hand sanitizer. We also painted a large mural for all of them to stamp their hand prints on.
The struggles that these people experience are different from the first-world problems that many of us see at home in the U.S., and it felt good to provide care for these individuals, no matter how minute or significant the contribution.
Most of the hands-on experiences occurred during our clinic rotations. We brought supplies and set up a small clinic in an auditorium on the outskirts of Cusco and opened it to the public. Locals from the area came in for free, were examined by doctors, and then received medication if they needed it. We took in over 100 patients for every afternoon that we ran the clinic. We took the patients’ vitals; measured blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and temperature. In another rotation, we shadowed doctors who assessed each patient and wrote a prescription to the pharmacy station which then passed out the medications. When I shadowed the physicians, I was able to see how they examined the patients and came up with a diagnosis. I saw cases of urinary infection, infection, depression, kids that weren’t hungry or weren’t eating, headaches, etc.
Being able to provide care to people in a poverty-stricken area is something that I had never done before. It humbles you and helps you realize that there are places in the world where people live basic lives without the benefits of health education or health care. Now, whenever I find myself stressing over something small, I try to make it a point to think about those people that I’ve seen. I realize that I should be more thankful for what I have in life knowing that other people in other parts of the globe are suffering through way worse. After thinking about that, I find that whatever complications I’m dealing with aren’t really that bad and that my problems are manageable.
My memories from Peru are ones that I will harbor and share from time to time. I enjoyed my time helping these people and after the trip, I knew that I wanted to keep traveling, not for myself, but for others. I want my life’s purpose to be meaningful and to spend my time making a difference in the lives of others.
Now I know my purpose, and now I have direction. I envision myself pursuing a profession in the medical field and spending the remaining years of my life living and working in different communities across the globe to bring aid to people in need until the time comes that I am too weak to hold my passport. There is so much of the world to see, and life is too short to spend stuck in daily routines.
I encourage you to travel and to see the world from a new perspective. Explore the uncharted regions outside of your comfort zone in hopes that through your journeys, you too may find something valuable that you didn’t see before.
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain
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