Ever since I went to South Africa as a part of the 2007 team, there isn’t a single moment that doesn’t make me long for just on more dance of the local kids of the Sam Nzima School (now the Ezweni School) or just to be two feet away from an African elephant (that isn’t in a zoo). Of course when I got the call saying that I was among the fifteen winners who were offered the amazing opportunity, it all seemed somewhat surreal. It wasn’t until we got off the airplane that I realized that we were actually in South Africa! Though the scenery was utterly and completely amazing, it was in Africa that I discovered my love for people. While being able to just breathe in the crisp African air was just breath-taking, what I really loved was being amongst the people of the village township. Just being able to talk and laugh with them when they were living in buildings with tin roofs was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Thanks to them I realized that I wanted to be a social anthropologist and devote my life to studying people. Whether it be a homeless person on the street corner or a mother in a Swiss village–everyone has a story worth telling. Why not spend my life hearing as many as I can?
By attending the 2011 Explorer Symposium this week and hearing the members of the panel talk about their lives’ work, I was motivated to follow my dreams (cliche but true). I couldn’t help but hear the passion in their voices. It was inspiring. Many people spend their lives searching for what it is that they actually want to do. Well, I’m not one of them. I have found my passion and I have National Geographic to thank for it.