Jacinta Oweje

Jacinta Ojevwe, Bronx, NY

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

First and foremost, I would like to thank Trip of a Lifetime for the great opportunity of allowing me to travel. It was honestly what this program stands for, A TRIP OF A LIFETIME ! Although at first I was very skeptical about leaving my family for so long, I was very excited to visit the west coast of the United States. This opportunity I received this Summer of 2016 , I never will take it for granted.

My adventure with Trip of a Lifetime began around February . I had heard about the program and I thought it was a great opportunity so I thought why not apply. When i finished my applications for Trip of a Lifetime , I sent them in and prayed for the best. Towards the end of March, I received an email stating that I had been selected for the second round of application process which was the phone interview oriented part of the application process. I was extremely excited but as well nervous as to what questions I was going to be asked and if I would be able to answer them well enough to impress the person that was interviewing me. The interview actually did not turn out as bad as I thought and I received an email two days later that I was selected for the trip and my trip would be from July 6th to July 30th.

Tour & Service was an exciting hybrid option that gave me the best of both worlds – 15 action packed teen tour days out west visiting beautiful national parks and exciting cities, PLUS 10 meaningful volunteer days giving back to the community- service projects, while living at the University of California in Santa Barbara. We began our exciting teen tour itinerary in the southwest, where we rode one of the world's longest zip lines in Park City, experienced the natural beauty of Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and the Grand Canyon, and rode the Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona, Arizona. Next, after an exciting stay in Las Vegas, we headed to California, where we enjoyed a fun beach day full of water skiing and tubing on Lake Tahoe. From there we rode the cable cars and walked down Lombard Street in San Francisco. We will spent 10 meaningful days living in the dorms at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where I volunteered at the Unity Shoppe. Here, during the weekdays, we were able to choose from volunteer projects that helped children, the environment, and underserved communities. On the weekend, we enjoyed fun in the sun on our awesome trip to Los Angeles, where we will walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, visited the Rodeo Drive, enjoyed rides at Hollywood's Universal Studios and enjoyed a night of comedy at the Improv Comedy Club. This trip was honestly one of the exciting things that has ever happened to me so far.

After visiting all these I can honestly say that traveling is one of the greatest experiences one can have. It forces us out of our comfort zones and teaches us things about ourselves, and the world around us we would have otherwise never learned.The great thing about traveling is that even when you’re traveling through unfamiliar landscapes, surrounded by people you don’t know, you’re never truly alone. People are generally welcoming and friendly everywhere you go and striking up a conversation with someone can turn a stranger into a friend within minutes. Often, the idea of traveling can seem overwhelming and frightening. It pushes us out of our comfort zone and forces us to interact with the world in a different way than we’re used to. By traveling the world you realize that people are mostly the same everywhere – good and kind and not out to harm you. At home we’re so used to eating the same type of meals day in and day out but when you’re on the road you’re more likely to step outside of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never had before. While traveling you open yourself up to new experiences and realize just how amazing the food is all around the world.

Traveling I can honestly say can help me have an impact on my community through the lessons i have learned on my trip. Making connections happens more the longer you travel, but chances are you’ll meet a few people while traveling who you’ll maintain contact with, even when scattered around the globe. Besides the importance on a personal level, it’s also beneficial to me that I expand my connections and networking opportunities beyond my area. And these aren’t the only benefits of travel. I ended up improving my social skills, I grow an appreciation for diversity, took initiatives and risks, and possibly even began to pick up some a foreign language. All valuable skills that I took back to my community to help my excel. With what I have learned, I can let members of community know how much of an impact traveling has had on me. Traveling has definitely allowed for me to become a catalyst of change in my community!