“Exploring new cultures and having new experiences makes me feel powerful.”

BACKGROUND

“I grew up in Port Washington on Long island in New York. I went to college in St. Louis. I love Port Washington, but it is a fairly small, homogenous community. It has influenced my interest in travel as a way to branch out from the small community in which I grew up. I am going to Guatemala for work and will be there for the next year. I have two older brothers. It is kind of interesting because they were both very interested in science and engineering. My dad is an engineer also. I wanted to do something different, so I focused on learning languages and community service. Going into my junior year of high school, I decided to go to Guatemala for a shorter trip. I had been to sleep-away camp every summer, but wanted to do something new. I went with a community service and language program. The following summer, I went to Nicaragua for a month. I lived with a family, took Spanish classes, and taught arts and crafts at a community center. These trips sparked my interest in global health. I saw a lack of basic resources, no running water in schools, and irregular electricity in my homestay. I saw the contrast between poverty and the really warm, welcoming people. That made me want to travel more and help more people. Now, I am going to Guatemala for 8 months to volunteer at a health clinic. I studied global health and anthropology, so I wanted to put what I’ve learned into action as well as do research before I go back to grad school in a year. I want to get a masters in public health.”

BEING POWERFUL  

“One of the things that I value as one of my characteristics is that I love to jump into new experiences with an open mind. That’s why I want to go to Guatemala, even though my family encouraged me to do something more secure and safer. I think there is a lot of value in branching out and trying new things. Exploring new cultures and having new experiences makes me feel powerful. There are a lot of definitions of travel, and for me, travel is learning about new people, meeting new people, and exploring cultures. In a lot of these situations, I am nervous at first, but I can see the rewards at the end. The language barrier can be hard, but overcoming that and adapting is powerful.”

TRAVELING

“I think traveling with my family when I was younger was a lot different than the experiences I had later in my life. Guatemala was an immersive experience. I love traveling to try new food, hearing accents, learning about health systems. For me, traveling is something unexplainable. I feel more in my element when I am in an uncomfortable situation and in a new place. I have never really considered myself a city person. I enjoy the opportunity of doing things in nature with more open space.”

STUDYING IN CHILE

“Last spring, I studied in Chile with a public health and traditional medicine program. We had lecture classes from different medical professionals, visited health clinics, and traveled to indigenous communities to learn about traditional medicine. The last part of the program was a one-month research project. That really sparked my interest in public health and research. My research was about this major wildfire that happened in Valparaíso, Chile in 2014. It was really cool because I went to rural communities and interviewed the disaster survivors. The fire was traumatic for everyone in the community. It taught me the importance of speaking directly with people who were affected by the disasters. I also interviewed government officials who had different interpretations. It was an experience of being nervous beforehand because of my lack of experience but learning so much from it. That is one of the reasons I love to travel. I think it is super rewarding in the end.”

ALLY’S ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ITEMS:

  1.         My passport-  it is so important!
  2.         My hiking backpack: https://www.osprey.com/us/en/product/aether-ag-70-AETHER70_807.html
  3.         My Birkenstocks. They are so comfortable: https://www.birkenstock.com/us/gizeh-birko-flor/gizeh-core-birkoflor-0-eva-u.html?dwvar_gizeh-core-birkoflor-0-eva-u_color=79#start=4
  4.         My journal. It is hard to keep writing in it, but I try to keep up with it: https://gb.moleskine.com/classic-notebook-green/p0457
  5.         My Patagonia fleece is great for hiking: http://www.patagonia.com/product/womens-better-sweater-quarter-zip-fleece/25617.html?dwvar_25617_color=RBE&cgid=womens-fleece#tile-1=&start=1&sz=24