For college students, summer break holds endless possibilities. We can study abroad in virtually any country on the planet, we can wait tables full-time to save up for real life (or beer), the studious among us can take summer classes, we can make a valiant attempt at screening every show on Netflix, we can intern in the hopes of securing a job or even a reference for after college—the list could go on, well, all summer.
After wrapping up another year at UT, I’m happy to say that Matt and I will be doing none of these things this summer. In just over two weeks we will fly south to Haiti to volunteer for the American Haitian Foundation for 30 days. The AHF is an organization based out of Signal Mountain, TN that operates a school in a coastal village called Petite-Riviere-de-Nippes. I will be working with some of the school’s teachers to further develop their conversational English skills, and Matt plans to start up a community garden and teach basic sustainability principles to the local people.
My preparations for our trip to Haiti have included getting 3 vaccinations, obtaining anti-malarial medicine, frantically trying to memorize everyday words in Creole, and buying unreal amounts of bugspray and sunscreen. My mental preparations are still underway.
Following our return from Haiti in early July, Matt and I are planning to go on a bike tour in the Pacific Northwest. We have decided we will drive to Bend, Oregon (where a kind soul has agreed to let us park our car for free), and then ride a loop of about 1,500 miles throughout Oregon, Washington, and hopefully even a little bit of Canada. Neither of us has been on a bike trip of this magnitude before, so it will undoubtedly be full of mishaps, sore legs, learning opportunities and totally new experiences.
A family friend asked me last week how Matt and I decided where to bike, and I shrugged and candidly responded, “Well, I’ve never been to Oregon before.” She laughed as I contemplated how that small exchange of words so immaculately describes my travels and my life.
Let the adventure begin.