If you haven’t already read Courtney’s guest post about Nicaragua, be sure to check it out and take a glimpse into the awesome staff trip that just took place. And to learn more…now we have Pierce’s guest post! Read up!
By: Pierce Persons
Service has always been amongst the top of my favorite things a Go Global Experiences trip has to offer. As a student in Cape Town, my most vivid memories consist of sunsets over Sir Lowry’s Pass, children running around carelessly with tattered clothes but without shoes and miles of shanty houses lining the horizon. Some students embraced this situation with open arms while others were overwhelmed with uncomfortable emotions at what was in front of them. As a student, intern and Program Director I found myself baffled at the idea that some students could not embrace the week of service because it was so far outside of their comfort zone. For me, this was my home away from home. I was in my element and most definitely was the last student on the bus to head home at the end of the day.
My good friend Ashton Kutcher once said, “I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.” I could not agree more with Ashton. Far too easily do we find ourselves in a mundane routine that keeps us within the safety lines we have imaginarily drawn for ourselves. We get up, go to work, cook dinner (not me), watch TV, and sleep only to wake up and do the whole thing all over again. After studying abroad in South Africa in 2012 I realized that there was absolutely nothing I loved more than the pure awkwardness of standing outside of your comfort zone.
The neatest part about comfort zones is that they are different for everyone. For some simply getting on a plane is terrifying, others leaving their hometown for the first time, trying new foods can be mind-blowing and even making new friends can seem like a hurdle. But at the end of the day- the growth that comes from this is with out a doubt worth the few moments (or hours if it’s a plane flight overseas) of awkwardness.
As a Program Director, students come to us discussing things that make them uncomfortable, nervous or out of their comfort zone. But for us (at least me)- this has become everyday life while abroad. I no longer get homesick, I know where to go shopping and eating and I have made friends with locals. Spending two plus months abroad a year you become familiar with a different culture, and as I mentioned before, I become immune to the fact that for some people this does not feel like a home away from home. That is why going to Nicaragua was so beneficial for me. Not only did our staff have the most amazing time together, we were all, at different times, put out of our comfort zones. There were days without internet, bugs in every inch of your business, service in which you could not communicate with the locals because of a language barrier, food that was foreign and for most of us the fear of getting lost because we could not communicate with the driver. (Thankfully Carolyn is fluent in Spanish and Courtney can step in!) Over this week in Nicaragua I was reminded of what it was like to be out of your comfort zone again- what it must feel like for some of our students.
Although there were some times that I felt uncomfortable or simply not at ease because I was in a totally different culture than where I live- I cannot tell you enough how much I gained from simply observing those around me. I have a new appreciation and have had the opportunity to experience something that not everyone can do. Not to mention I will be able to connect with students in Greece this summer in a new familiar manner because of this experiences. I will be able to have current firsthand experiences that I can share with them as I encourage them to boldly break through their comfort zones.
An eye-opening experience is as cliché as it comes, but it is the honest truth. No matter where you are or what you do- I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone every once in a while. No- you do not have to travel to Nicaragua to do so (although I highly recommend it)- you can step out of your comfort zone in your very backyard. You just have to be brave enough to do so!
To read more about our service opportunities, check out this guest post by Community Leader Cammie Cook, also a Cape Town student, and to read more about Go Global’s take on comfort zones, here’s a post I wrote about bungee jumping! … just one of the many things we do at Go Global to help students jump out of their comfort zones (see what I did there?) Of course, to read more about Pierce, just read this guest post about her experience transitioning from student to intern to program director in this post, here.
As Pierce explains in her assessment of her time spent in Nicaragua, the opportunity to serve is so special. Making a difference in others lives is a powerful experience that does so much good in the world. And that is something Go Global is proud to be a part of.
Stay tuned for the next team member guest post!
-Anna and the Go Global team