Make a story

Travel2Change readers,

Visiting foreign shores can be fun, exciting, and adventurous, but there is nothing like getting that fulfilled feeling of helping others along the way.  Here is a story from a friend who traveled the world via submarine in the US Navy:

Back in 2009 I was a young 23 year old, fresh to foreign ports and traveling the Pacific Ocean.  Our Captain notified us after leaving Japan that our next stop would be Malaysia, a port that a US submarine had never visited.  We had decided that to show good faith and to break stereotypes we would engage in a project to help the local community.  The plan was to visit a single mother’s volunteer school for children, do some upkeep, and help out in any way possible.  When we had pulled into port the sun was beaming down (not something we got to see every day), more than half of the crew had gone on to the bar or pool to relax, while a group of us hung back and waited for our van.  After a short 30-minute ride we arrived at an old building complete with vines growing, an unkempt yard, peeling walls, dirty rooms, and broken furniture.  We were issued brooms, paint, and other tools and we broke into groups to tackle different sections of the property.  I was assigned to the paint group naturally (I’m 6’3”), and got to work immediately with boom box playing late 80’s rock.  After about 7 hours of hard work, we had re-arranged and cleaned the furniture, painted all the walls, cleaned the entire house, and replanted and mowed the yard.  The feeling of having a job complete was a feeling I was used to, but I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of thankfulness in such a powerful form.  The ladies had not only helped throughout the process (those that could) but they cooked enough food for our entire work crew!  Man it was good too!  After seeing the completed project, a few of the women were crying, and few overjoyed, and a few kids running around excitedly as if it was their birthdays.

This was the highlight of my traveling experience, and I’ve been to dozens of countries.  Having the chance to make a difference and see the change in person is a great feeling, and besides when the work was done we had more than enough time to experience the rest of the area.  So make a difference, and have a story to tell for years.

-Austin E. Johnson (US Navy veteran)

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