This year marks our tenth year partnering with PLAN International, a global organization that provides resources to children and communities to promote education, healthcare, and safety to those most in need. In celebration of this anniversary, we will be featuring the stories of past employee travelers here on our blog. Check back each month to learn about our employees’ travel experiences, see videos from our host sites, and discover how Hobsons and PLAN will continue to help increase access to quality education opportunities for children across the globe.
Four years ago, my perspective on life changed. I went from my Midwestern-bubble view of humanity to seeing first-hand how those on the other side of the world lived. And I was surprised. Not surprised in a heartbroken way, but in an inspiring way. I learned that it’s not what you have in life, but who you have in life that truly defines happiness.
Four years ago, I took a leap of faith. I had always been inspired by the stories my coworkers had when they returned from their PLAN trip to foreign countries. I loved their pictures, their stories, and the sense of community these activities always created. So I decided to jump on board. I submitted my interest form, not knowing anyone else who applied and only half knowing what I was getting myself into. When I got the call that I was selected to attend the trip, I was excited. Then my heart sank as reality set in. Aside from Canada, I had never been out of the country. I don’t even like to go camping, so the thought of spending time in a third world country scared me to death. But I did it. And it changed my life.
Four years ago, I traveled to Nepal with coworkers I had never met, but who I instantly bonded with during this unique experience that touched us deeply. From the moment we landed we felt that we were part of the community. The local PLAN office took us in and prepared us for a week of activities and travel. Every person we met welcomed us with open arms. In our days in the capital of Kathmandu, we shopped, ate, and conversed with the locals.
Our true experience, however, was in the Sindhuli Valley. It was here that we were welcomed by students at our sponsored schools. Tears streamed down my face as we walked through lines of cheering, smiling students who were so happy to see us. They sang songs for us, showed us pictures they had drawn, and told us stories of their daily life. It was here that the realization set in that these kids had nothing materialistically. Not even running water. But in their eyes, they had everything.
Four years ago, I was simply a Midwestern girl going on the adventure of a lifetime. There were times along the way I was forced out of my comfort zone. At the time, I was scared out of my mind - driving on the edge of mountains, taking a “Buddha Air” flight to view the summit of Mt. Everest, and interacting with people who didn’t speak my language.
But today, as I look back at this experience, these were some of the most defining moments of my life. They have shaped who I am, who my children will be, and my view on what it really means to have everything.
The schools we sponsor and the initiatives we’ve helped fund became real to me as a result of this trip. As a company, Hobsons doesn’t just provide money to an organization. We’re helping to shape lives, improve living conditions, and help educate villages and generations. I feel more than lucky to have been able to contribute both monetarily and personally to children who have the chance to make a true impact in their community, in their country, and in the world.