by Codie Fraley, Greenheart Travel Volunteer in Vietnam

Wednesday May 8th, 2013 (Flight from Detroit to Seoul)

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I woke up at 3:00 AM this morning. I took a quick shower to freshen up and I woke my friend Terrill up. He would be driving me to the Tampa International Airport, 2 hours north of where I live (Fort Myers, Fl). I was honestly nervous about how things would go. Did I have all of the necessary documents? Would my carry-on bag fit? Would I know where to go?

To my surprise the process was easier than I thought. While waiting in the terminal I saw a lady with a carry-on so big I could take a nap in it. Then it started to hit me.

I don’t think I completely understood the magnitude of what I’m doing until I awaited departing on my first flight. I raised $3,000 to go half way around the world to help children with special needs in Vietnam. If that is not the most selfless thing I can think of then I don’t know what is. My girlfriend Chandler, my family, and my friends are all so proud of me. I never realized how proud I made them until now. I just finished my first year of college with A’s in every single course while managing to raise money for Vietnam. Knowing how proud they are of inspires me to work even harder in all that I do. I just want to reach my full potential as a human being while making the largest impact possible on the lives around me. That is all I want. And I still don’t think I fully understand the magnitude of what I’m doing in Vietnam. I still don’t think I understand how great of a person I can become.

A year ago I never would have imagined being where I am now. I had no idea I could achieve all A’s my freshman year of college. I had no idea I would be in love with someone like Chandler. Someone who inspires and motivates me every day to be a better person. I never would have imagined traveling half way around the world. It’s always just kind of been a fantasy. “Oh, one day I’ll go to Africa. I’ll go to Asia, and Australia.” But now the fantasy is becoming real. Or at least a part of it is.

I’m just so grateful for everything in my life right now. I don’t believe I have ever felt so appreciative. I have been awarded many opportunities that have contributed to the person I am today. I know Vietnam will transform me in ways that I can’t even imagine.

I’m excited to meet the other volunteers. My Greenheart Travel program manager (Jennifer) emailed me this morning that there would be 21 other volunteers when I arrive! That’s incredible. I was only expecting 5 or 10 at the maximum. I’m wondering what I will learn from my fellow volunteers. Or what I will learn from the children I’m helping. Aren, my friend from college once said that he is essentially a bag of tools. He has gathered tools throughout the years. The tools are the people he’s met. Aren said that every time you meet someone it’s a special opportunity because you get to take away something from them. You get to take away a “tool” and add it to your bag of tools.

It’s all about perspective. Keep your thoughts and outlook positive. Welcome the experience to come.