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Jasmine Dispatch

August 2, 2000

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'We shared so much... is it really time to day goodbye?'
My eyes are watering and tears fall silently onto the computer keys as I type. A flurry of emotion swirls around me. The World Trek team has returned home to a triumphant re-entry to the United States!

Unbelievable, unreal. I'm not ready to let go. Still, I realize that with each word I type, I am closing the chapter on the last year of my life. I want to stop typing. Maybe then I can hold on to it for just a few moments more. But, dawn is fast approaching and like sand pushed in and out by the tide, my time will come. I will be ushered into a strange yet familiar world, a place where people know me, and speak the same language as I do, where people love me...a place called home.

I left home one year ago exactly. I set out on this adventure with eyes and heart open wide and ready to welcome new places, people, culture, and challenges. When I joined the team in Mali, Africa, I had no idea how much more I would need to expand myself to take in all that would lie ahead. Every limitation or boundary I'd ever drawn around myself was pushed until I thought I would break, only I didn't break. Instead, I found that once I let go of my limitations, they were free to fly away and take me with them to the far corners of the earth!

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Niger kid waving at me
They took me down the Niger river in Mali where small, beautiful babies waved from their villages. "Aneshoguma!!!" (good morning) they yelled as they ran along the banks chasing after us. They took Kevin and me to Timbuktu where we endured dreadful sand and rain storms while traveling in a canoe for six days with no food, little sleep, and a circus of various insects nibbling on us when we docked at night in the high reeds and marsh along the river banks.

I recall the experience of my introduction to the team. That first night, as I lay awake staring up into the darkest, most beautiful sky, I thought about where I would be if I was not a part of this trek team. "I would be in a more comfortable place," I said to myself, "with a bed to sleep on and not a hard wooden bench. I wouldn't be hungry or cold or drenched from the rains. I wouldn't be lonely and missing my family."

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'These young victims of Turkey's devastating earthquake inspired me with their smiles!'
"Then why aren't you upset?" I asked myself. "Why aren't you frustrated or crying? Why are you actually smiling?" I wondered. The answer was easy. If I were not traveling with this team, I would be more comfortable but I would not be sharing these incredible experiences with students like you, all over the world. I wouldn't be learning and growing. I wouldn't be able to be inspired by the incredible strength of all the people I had yet to meet. I had always heard that the good stuff is worth the fight. Now that I reflect on my year with the Odyssey, I can assure you, whoever said that was right. I would surely do it all again!

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'I pray that you grow and shine your light on all the world.'
The amazing people we met throughout our travels motivated and inspired me in so many ways. I've been inspired by all of them, from the brave survivors of Turkey's devastating earthquake, doing all they can to rebuild their lives and their homes, to the thousands of young people in India who've taken education into their own hands by making education a priority and starting schools in their communities. Most of all, my greatest encouragement was you. Yes, you! You were with me in so many ways.

<'For you I would lug a heavy computer, camera, video camera, and backpack around the world any day!'
Your future and your education, opening your heart and your mind, inspiring you to stand up and use your gifts and talents to touch the world and make a difference was my ultimate goal. Your emails and your excitement about seeing new places and learning the same history that bored me to death when I was a student (reading about history from dull text books), kept me going on numerous occasions. The fact that we could bring everything to life for you made it all worth while!

Take this trip around the world and run with it, grow from it, be inspired by all that we encountered. You are a unique gift to the world. Stand strong and always let your light shine!

Thank you for being a part of the Odyssey. I will carry you with me in my heart!



p.s. - Please e-mail me at

Abeja - Great Wall, Great Trekkers! Now what?!
Kavitha - The End! World Trek is Done!
Kevin - Bienvenue à Paris! Welcome to Paris!
Monica - We're Comin' to America! What Next??
Jeff - Our Founder says Farewell to the World Trek and Hello to the U.S. Trek
Yang-Yang - Yang-Yang says One Last Goodbye

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