Friday, April 18, 2008

"Teens on a Mission": Experiencing Life at Full Throttle in a Pilgrimage-Like Activity

In the washingtonpost.com, there was a fascinating article about young people who are not going to Europe for a vacation, but are drinking deeply from the well of life: living with people who just aren't like us, caught in this article, "Teens on a Mission":

When Bethesda high school student Jenna Kusek first saw where she'd be living for three weeks in Tanzania, she thought, "You've got to be kidding."

This hole in the ground is the toilet? A trickle of cold water from an elevated hose is the shower?

But Kusek soon gained a new perspective. The white stucco house she shared with other teen volunteers last summer was a mansion by local standards, and better than the concrete-block house they would spend their days building for a local teacher. A cold shower, she realized, was a luxury unavailable to the village kids. A year after the trip, tears come to her eyes when she talks about how guilty she began feeling about having access to any kind of shower.

"Compared to how people lived in the village, our housing was too good to be true," says Kusek, 18, a senior at Walt Whitman High School. "I knew before I went to Africa that I was blessed, but I had no idea how lucky I was. I can't believe now the things we once took for granted."

Kusek's experience is being repeated by an ever-growing number of American teens traveling all over the world, led by dozens of companies feeding an appetite not only for more-exotic travel, but for travel with a purpose."

What I appreciate about pilgrimage is that it is a kind of travel "with a purpose," and the "purpose" is spiritual in nature, as well as physical, intellectual, and emotional, growth and nurture.

"Lynn Cutler of National Geographic said the organization commissioned a study and found that teens who can afford travel want purpose and personal development."

The rest of the article covers the experience of other young people's whose lives are forever-changed through these travels-with-a-purpose.

Click here for more.

Bien camino!

Pilgrim peace!

Brett