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Monica Dispatch

Bon Voyage Shawn!

Today Shawn left on a flight bound for JFK International, New York City, the Big Apple, USA. He's going home! He's outta here, he's over it, he's movin' on. And we miss him.

Yesterday, the whole trek team--Shawn, Kevin, Abeja, Kavitha and I--all went to a vegetarian restaurant to say goodbye to Shawn on his last day with the Odyssey World Trek. Shawn and I first met on the Mexico Trek in August last year, and spent a lot of time at each other's host family houses. Shawn, his host brother Hugo, and I would take the Mexico City subway to places like UNAM and Tlatelolco with Silvia Montero, who was working with Casa Alianza at the time. Ever since then we've worked together to prepare for the World Trek. He and I traveled together from Guatemala to Costa Rica, as well as from Panama to Colombia, during the Latin America Stage. After our dinner at the restaurant, Shawn and I had a little heart-to-heart about how much these last eleven months have meant to both of us.

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One last smile for the Odyssey
You see, out of all the trekkers, I would have to say that Shawn and I are the most different. We've had the most differences of opinion, the most arguments with each other, the most uncomfortable moments of misunderstanding, and the most difficulties reaching agreements. Not everything on the world trek is easy--I would even say that this is one of the harder things I've ever done. But, it means something to me that we trekkers are in this together, with the support of our stateside team and you, our students who are following us. When you travel and work twenty-four hours/seven days a week with the same people, you get to know them really well, and they get to know you really well. You learn how to appreciate each other, and you realize how grateful you are that there's someone to lean on when you're down, and to celebrate with when you're up.

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What should we eat?
Say Cheese!
We lose part of this togetherness by saying goodbye to Shawn. However, at our dinner and afterwards, I realized how much he did mean to the group, with his technical skills, his excellent writing style, his deep appreciation of the cultures we studied, and his dedication to the environmental causes he cares so much about.

In Buenos Aires, when we were preparing to leave for South Africa, Shawn told me he was concerned about the difficulties of travelling in Africa, and the toll the constant bus rides and continual discomfort would take on his body. When his physical health started declining in Swaziland, he decided that it would be best for him to take time off and dedicate it to healing himself.

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larger view
Here is Shawn sharing a laugh with his fellow travelers
It was difficult to say goodbye today. We hugged, and then Shawn got into the taxi with his big backpack and waved goodbye. He was off to the Harare International Airport, from where he would fly to London for an eight-hour stop over, then on to New York. From there his plan was to travel to San Francisco, California, as well as Kansas City, Missouri and Boulder, Colorado. "I might as well keep on doing the Odyssey, but in the States," he kidded around.

As we say goodbye to Shawn, we welcome Jasmine Hamlett, our newest trek team member, who'll be joining the team in Bamako, Mali, in West Africa. To Jasmine, I welcome you and look forward to having you become a part of our incredible group. And to Shawn: It's been a really enlightening experience working with you, Shawn. I'll miss you.


Shawn - Leaving on a Jet Plane :-(
Kevin - When Intolerance Rises to Intolerable Levels
Kavitha - Old Ways to Make New Changes
Abeja - You Reap What You Sow
Kavitha - From Drought to Surplus, a Tale of Success
Abeja - Visiting a Tobacco Auction
Making A Difference - Send A Message!

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