In life, my attitude has always been to change the world and make a difference. When I first applied for the Encompass Journey of Understanding, this was one of the goals I set for myself. I wanted to learn from others how to make a difference and change events happening in our world, but what I took away from the experience was much different. It’s been almost two weeks after the Encompass Journey and I am still reflecting on it. I know this feeling will never go away. Yes exact descriptions will change, but those memories I know will always remain. As I write this I ask myself, what took so long? I realized that that week experience was one between the participants and facilitators and not everyone will understand. I can still go into great detail about each part of the trip, but would people understand what we created as a group? Absolutely not. However, I think this goes for a lot of things in life. We try to understand things in our lives and others lives, that we can’t. Until you put yourself in the shoes of the person experiencing that moment and personalize it, we will never understand. With that being said I think it is important that people learn about my week, not to understand, but to relate to maybe points in life when you felt the same way.
So there I was the night before the Encompass Journey, packing my bags and trying to expect what my upcoming week would be like. It was strange; I was so nonchalant about going. I felt so excited that I was doing this, but at the same time it just felt like another week. Something was missing; I was numb to my surroundings. I sat up a lot of the night listening to music, thinking about whom I would meet, what I would learn and how I as an American would represent my country. I told myself, “enough of that, go to bed already.” The next morning: This was it, the big day. I grabbed all of my bags and headed for Paddington Station where I would meet Jeff and Claire, the other American participants. On the Heathrow Express we went. When first arriving at Heathrow Airport, I instantly tried to get comfortable with my surroundings, but instead I just overanalyzed them. Before I knew it, participants were coming up to me and introducing themselves. I did not know anything about anyone besides their name which they had just given me 5 minutes prior. This was a nice feeling because it felt like a fresh slate. I could be anyone in that moment and I chose what I wanted people to know about me. I was able to recreate my identity for myself. It was here I realized what this week would mean for me.
The week of Encompass Journey was filled with so many activities. We went ghyll scrambling, orienteering, archery, and climbed the Via Ferrata. These challenges were so exhilarating and helped us trust ourselves and each other, but it was the discussions and sessions we had with Helen that really, really impacted my week. I learned about different cultures and lifestyles which years of school could have never taught me. We crossed boundaries that everyone deems “too safe” and reached conversations some people have never been able to have because of the perception it could bring upon them by others. Not in this space though, we felt safe. These conversations are what brings change and people being comfortable with who they are and what they believe in. We talked about gender, our countries laws, stereotypes, and political issues and in the midst of all that I was learning something much deeper, I was finding myself. Since high school until now, my life has been quite a difficult one, but a learning experience as well. Even though it has been a rollercoaster I realized how fortunate I am to live in a country that allows me to speak my mind and do almost anything I desire. This week was a personal journey for me in finding confidence in what I believe in, debating difficult issues with myself and embracing my identity that I have been discovering for many years.
Thanks to the Encompass Journey of Understanding, I learned that this happens to individuals all over the world. A lot of us have this approach that we want to change the world, but how can we change a world we don’t know about? This is only the beginning for each of us as individuals and as a group of participants of the Encompass Journey, fall 2013.
One day, one day, my momma said, “Change the world” and I said, “only with the help of my new friends.”
Taylor, Encompass, fall 2013