Prompt- Why is learning important to you and how has it impacted your life?
My parents spent most of their adult lives working to evolve and improve the healthcare systems in developing countries, primarily contributing in the West African country of Ghana. My dad always had a dream of taking our entire family on a five-year learning exploration of the various cultures of our planet. At my father’s fortieth birthday party my mom jokingly reminded my dad of his ambitiously ridiculous dream. Little did I know that that “joke” would alter the course of the next 5 years of my life.
It all began so quickly when, about one week after my father’s birthday, I found myself sitting with my family in the dining room. We listened to my dad, with a marker in his hand and a whiteboard by his side, talk about how few clothes each person could pack. We were limited to just two pairs of jeans, one pair of shorts, and a few shirts. I could speak for us all when I say we thought the vision was crazy. Following was a “donate or throw away” fashion show and a yard sale where my sisters and I sold movies, books, and our famous dandelion honey lemonade.
The next two months were full of research for cheap accommodations, discounted flights, Visa requirements, travel and safety announcements, as well as quite a few teary eyed goodbyes. My large family of seven with no savings and a modest salary, stood at the terminal for our first flight to South Africa. We understood that our bold plan would have some ups and downs or might not work out at all. However, there was a burning desire to learn more about our planet in each and every one of us as we heard, “Flight 1607 boarding to Cape Town.”
In four short years, I have explored six continents, twenty countries, thirty cities, and five wonders of the world. We’ve met at least a hundred lifelong friends and have been immersed in many different cultures, all while being home schooled! I cannot forget the many times we’ve crammed into Thailand’s local tuks tuks past the headcount limit with our “distract the driver” strategy. Now, 47 states into the final year of our five-year journey, I currently sit in Las Vegas, Nevada eating breakfast in a mobile tin can that my family and I call home.
This last stretch of our Manns’ World Tour has really forced me to adapt to life in a cramped living situation. I have had to hone in on my co-existing skills especially when it comes to bathroom rights. I have also acquired a minimalistic lifestyle that has taught me to let go of many material things because I understand what should really be valued in life.
This journey of a lifetime started with a desire to learn and grow. Through it all I have learned how to network with anyone, co-exist in group settings, communicate effectively in an articulate manner, thoroughly research anything, take calculated risks, and last but definitely not least, I have learned not be afraid of being afraid. With the skills and tools I’ve acquired throughout my travels, I am determined to make the most out of my life. Now my sister and I are preparing for college and will be faced with a different set of challenges, the biggest one being paying for this endeavor. As I feel the weight of this new chapter weighing down on me, I remind myself that life is just a learning process and just like I’ve done through my travels and before, I will figure this out and prevail.
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