Greenheart Travel is excited to send a group of amazing travelers to study and volunteer abroad as part of our 2017 Travel Correspondent and Global Explorer Scholarship awards. To help introduce our inspiring writers, we are doing a series of spotlight interviews to help you get to know a little more about who they are, where they will be headed and what inspired them to travel abroad.
Read on to meet 20-year-old, Emily Evans, our Greenheart Travel Correspondent fromWaimea, Kaua’i, Hawai’i, who’ll be traveling abroad as a volunteer in Thailand!
As a college student, I don’t have a lot of free time, but dance has always been a passion of mine. I have been dancing ballet for just about 15 years, along with contemporary for 12 years. Recently, I started to take ballroom dance classes and it is so much fun! I am actually working on becoming a teaching assistant for the ballroom classes at my school.
Yes. When I was a junior in high school, I studied abroad in Germany for a year. While I was there, I had the opportunity to tour both Germany and parts of Europe with my fellow exchange students. We went to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Italy, France, Monaco, Switzerland and the Netherlands. My favorite places were Budapest and Paris.
I am a part of a program at my school called Bonner, where we do service in the community in place of having a work-study job on campus. For the past two years, I have been working at my service site, Hog Heaven Rescue Farm, which is a facility for neglected and abused hoofed animals. I spent my entire summer there last year. Those experiences have completely changed my life and made me much more conscious of the world around me.
Since then, I have participated in dozens of service activities and traveled around the country to volunteer. I am a better person because of the service that I do and I am motivated every day to help however and wherever I can. The Bonner Program pushed me to do a summer of service abroad this year and my passion for animal welfare led me to Greenheart’s volunteer project in Thailand. I believe this is going to be the next big step in my journey of bettering both myself and the world.
I am most excited about becoming part of the community. Feeling at home within a community is very important to me and it is a feeling I know well. I come from a small community and it is like being part of an extended family. I am looking forward to gaining that feeling and experience with the people of Khao Tao and with the Rescue Paws team. By the end of my time there, I hope to be so comfortable with the people and the area that it is like I have lived there my whole life.
There are so many cultures, traditions, languages and religions that we aren’t exposed to while living in the United States. We are called the “melting pot” because while we have access to all these differences, we choose instead to blend them all together to make a uniform society. The only way to experience these differences is by seeing them first-hand in their places of origin.
It helps to expand our horizons to see what the world really holds. Otherwise, we are just seeing the world through a lens that society has deemed acceptable for us to look through. And volunteering abroad is even better than simply traveling abroad because it allows you to enter the real-life situations of that place.
Tourists tend to only see the good when they are on vacation — everything is bright and beautiful and fabulous. But volunteers get to see the good, the bad and the ugly, just as the local residents see it. No place is perfect, just like no one is perfect, and it is important to keep that in mind.
I am most nervous about the language barrier because it is so different from anything I have learned or tried to learn because it is based on sound combinations rather than letter combinations. Inflection will probably be my downfall, but hopefully I will catch on as I interact with the local Thai people — immersion has always been a powerful learning tool for me.
I am fluent in German and conversationally proficient in both American Sign Language and Spanish. Thai will be my next great feat!
I think this experience will help me become more independent and confident with traveling alone. While I have traveled a lot before, I have always had someone waiting for me on the other side and I have always had English to fall back on. But this trip will force me to go out of my comfort zone in terms of language and experience, and I think it is something I need in order to have more experiences like this in the future. And I will probably have a higher spicy food tolerance by the time I leave too!