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Kavitha Dispatch

The End! The World Trek is Done!
August 2, 2000

We've seen a lot during these past years, trekking around the world, from people eating worms to a five-member family riding one motorcycle together. I have to say, however, we have just arrived in what could be our strangest country yet. People on the street will make eye contact with you and sometimes smile, as if you know them. Stores are filled with a greater selection of items than anyone could possibly know what to do with and people buy things they couldn't possibly need. I saw a group of girls sitting together in a café, laughing out loud, not trying to hide their feelings in the least bit. Abeja, Jasmine, Monica and I can walk down the street without attracting any attention at all! No piercing stares. No one calling out "Lao-wai!" (which means 'foreigner' in China) or "Gringa!" (the local term used in Latin America to describe women from North America).

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What kind of strange country is this, you ask?!

After 555 days of trekking from continent to continent...through vast deserts, impassable jungles, and high mountains.....amidst exotic religions, delightful new foods and friends, foreign languages and contrasting ways of life....we have arrived here...right back where we started.

That's right, WE'RE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We're back in this strange and beautiful land called the United States of America.

After more than a year and a half, the World Trek has come to an end and now, after months and months of being far, far away, we are finally back home.

It has been so wonderful to eat all my favorite foods again, to listen to all the music I've been missing, and visit all the beautiful places I used to know and love. Of course, the best part about being home has been seeing all my old friends and family. Exactly 555 days is a long time to go without seeing your mom!

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Of course, everyone is full of questions. "How was it?" they ask. "What were your favorite parts of the trip? What were the most memorable experiences?" These questions seem simple enough, but right now, as I try to re-enter America and get used to the fact that the World Trek is actually over, it's a little overwhelming to try to answer them all. How do I sum up what the past 18 months have meant to me?

It was amazing. It was phenomenal. I lived in a village in the Central Highlands of Peru and learned about bio-diversity while gazing at the breathtaking, Andes mountains as a backdrop. Then there was that wonderful time when I met my sister in India and learned about yoga and. traditional medicine. And of course, I smile to think about the time we were treated like princesses while staying with a sweet family in Morocco. And who could forget the thrill of conducting a live webcast interview with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu?....or the adventure of getting lost in the infamous Darien Gap for a couple of weeks? …or the time I faced death floating towards hungry hippos and wading through crocodile filled swamps in Zimbabwe....?!? This journey is was all that and much, much more.

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Throughout the past 18 months, my teammates and I have visited so many beautiful places, diverse cultures, and inspiring individuals. Each new country presented a rich new culture and history to explore and a new adventure to experience. But, as beautifully different as each place and experience was from one another, there was a common thread that seemed to weave it's way through all our travels. Time and time again, we discovered that people all over the world are thrilled about the prospects of communicating with different cultures and sharing their own culture and their own work with the rest of the world. That's why the Odyssey was welcomed all over the world with such open arms.

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We have been unbelievably lucky to have taken this amazing journey when we did. My hope is that if you are reading this, you too realize just how lucky you have been. We are living in a world full of potential and possibility. The mere fact that the World Trek --once just a vision shared by a small group of people -- has made it all the way around the globe, connecting thousands of teachers and students, is enough to convince me that the horizons are endless. The internet has made communication with people on opposite ends of the earth possible with the touch of a button. Just imagine what else is possible.

What an exciting time to be living! And with this privilege comes responsibility. We must be responsible for our actions and be constantly pushing ourselves to use tools like the internet in innovative ways that will benefit the world around us. As easily as we can communicate with someone at the other end of the planet, we also can harm others and their environments through the choices we make and the things we buy. I know that my teammates and I have been given an incredible opportunity to have seen the world as we have. Now, our greatest challenge will be to incorporate all we have learned in a meaningful way that enables us to give back.

I am very sad to say goodbye to Jasmine, Abeja, Monica, and all the other people we've worked so closely with to make the World Trek a reality. We have been through so much together. But, I am excited to learn of all the new and separate directions we will go in. I know our paths will keep bringing us back together for a long time to come. If there is one thing I have learned during the past 555 days, it's that the world is not such a big place after all.

Kavitha

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...kavitharao@bigfoot.com
 

Abeja - Great Wall, Great Trekkers! Now what?!
Jasmine - Homecoming
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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