Wonder how a 30 year old dream is fed until it takes flight?
Here’s a few highlights:
1970’s – my aunt, uncle and cousins split their time between her home (Canada) and his home (southern Africa, including then Rhodesia and South Africa). Their letters and visits home, and the very rare phone calls, spark my awareness that there is another world within our world.
1982 – another aunt, uncle and set of cousins move to Malawi. An added perspective, an expansion of awareness, and a desire to learn more are a shared family experience. Conversations begin about going to visit.
1985 – my parents take my sister and I to southern Africa. As we deplane in Lilongwe, Malawi I smell the warm floral air and hear a small voice “Shannon, Welcome Home.” Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa – each so distinct and illuminating. Communism, Conservativism. Apartheid. Civil War. They are realities a young Canadian girl knows little about, and realities worn on the walls and faces we pass. We leave, and I know someday I will return.
1990 to now – my parents reignite a habit of international travel that grows in frequency and range. Japan. Belize. Panama. England. Scotland. Ireland. Italy. Spain. Turkey. Greece. – I can’t even recall all the places they’ve been. I just know that when I ‘grow up’ I want passports as full as theirs. Following their adventures leaves me simultaneously proud and envious. With a reality of young boys to raise, I count the years until I’ll travel again.
2008 – Ireland. Home of “my people’ (really, like most Canadians, I am a mutt). A place where just stating my ‘most Irish name ever’ will get me a free drink. Place of literature and history and easy laughs and engaging music. I go for a retreat. I go for an adventure. I go alone and love every minute.
2009 – Together with my parents I give my oldest son the greatest gift I know – travel – and send him for a 6 week volunteer stint in Grenada protecting sea turtles. He learns that he has value to the broader world, a third generation of adventurers is born, and I realize the time is coming for me to make my dreams a reality.
And now … the next step is almost upon me. My first service trip. I have traveled, and vacationed, but that was not the dream. The dream is to live and work and serve where I can make a difference. I hope I’ll have to update this page MANY MANY times in the years moving forward.
Beyond that, I am grateful for this. Right now. I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. For Mexico and Ireland and Africa and Canada and undiscovered in-betweens. I’m grateful for having traveled much of my amazing home country and knowing the richness it offers. It gives me a context of gratitude for this opportunity.
I’m ready to take off.