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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When Change is Good

(L to R) Global citizens
Jazmyne, Daizia, Shannon, Soleil, Viviana, Lyanna
Showing you what got them here...
On the beach at Ramon's Village Resort

He who returns from a journey
is not the same as he who left. ~Chinese proverb

I don't know if it's because I want it to be so, or if it is actually so, but the girls on the Passport to Belize trip looked different when they were leaving to go back to the U.S. today than they did when we first met up in Dallas to take this journey together.  Perhaps they were just a bit shy when we all first got together?  (The group dynamic can be a little intimidating sometimes.) Or perhaps I'm just hopeful crazy.  Either way, I'm betting there was some small shift that occurred in each of them after this 7-day Central American adventure that will manifest more brilliantly over time, as it was their very first international travel experience and their very first passport stamp.  But that's the whole point, isn't it? #changeisgood

12 year old Lyanna shows off her very first passport stamp.
A part of me wants to keep the details of our Passport to Belize trip private and between the 13* of us like it's some big secret or something, and another part of me wants to share every single moment, but the truth is that I haven't really processed my feelings yet. They've only been gone for three hours and I'm tired from crying, tired from getting up every day before 6am to start the day, and just tired from being tired.  I should probably take a nap, but I'm too happy to sleep.

Me with the girls (and with passport in hand) hamming it up...
Right now, all I know is that they told me they didn't want to go home today; that a major highlight of the trip wasn't necessarily the Belize Zoo, zip lining, cave tubing (still can't believe I had to be rescued), snorkeling with sharks or climbing the Mayan ruins, but instead was spending the day playing with the kids at Liberty Children's Home, an orphanage in Ladyville, Belize; and I love them.  Like crazy.  

Liberty Children's Home
All photos: @TraceyFriley
Change - the kind that matters - takes place from the inside out; so I probably don't look any different than I did when I embarked on this journey either, but I am different.  That, I know for sure.  It just might take me a few days to figure out how.

Tracey is still in Belize; then bound for Barcelona for a little R&R after a quick stop in the States.

Shannon points out Belize...
You can check out more photos from the trip on Facebook and I'll be uploading all of them on Flickr real soon.

Check out the #GProject for info about Phase 2.

While no official fundraising campaign has been kicked off, if you are an individual or corporation that would like to help underserved girls ages 11-15 by making a donation, please click here.  If you are a corporation or travel brand that would like to know how else you can help, please click here.

* Six girls (out of the 100 that received their first passports via Phase 1) won an all-expenses paid trip to Belize, Central America to get their first passport stamps and to start their journey to global citizenship. In an effort avoid liability, the one thing during this entire initiative that Expedia insisted on was that a parent or guardian accompany each minor instead of me leading the group myself.  Including parents, there were 13 of us in the group.  And yes, some of the parents have experienced a personal shift of their own as well. #goodstuff

Shannon & Viviana enjoying the boat ride home from a full day at Lamanai