This week WorldTeach is glad to be able to share some thoughts and photos from Rebeca Izquierdo, our American Samoa Field Director. To learn more about WorldTeach click here or to find out more about WorldTeach’s American Samoa program click here.
Bodies of water have unwittingly played a primary role in my life abroad. Oceans, beaches and rivers have often been a short distance away from my home, and transportation by boat or ferry has not been unusual. Each of these experiences has offered vastly different ways of life, practices and culture, but every situation has reinforced the importance of placing oneself in the way of opportunity.
During my own volunteer service, I lived in a small rivering community in Guyana, South America. It was a lovely, jungle paradise with limited running water, without electricity and a heat that made you feel like you were enjoying a sauna throughout the day and often continuing into the late hours of the evening. To this day, these heat filled years are sweet memories that I reflect upon fondly.
The access to transportation for the village was limited: Monday through Saturday, 6 am sharp. The small boat transported passengers 45 minutes away to the nearest port town, providing occasion to enjoy the cool, stillness of the undisturbed morning. I spent the first few months abiding by this limited transportation, at one point eating solely canned goods and cassava bread for a couple of days due to running out of cooking gas. This can be directly attributed to my lack of reaching out. I did not step beyond the line and test the boundaries or trust the relationships I had created. Over time and a number of missed boats, I came to understand that placing myself in the way of opportunity created amazing moments, not only regarding transportation, but beautiful experiences that overflow my personal journal.
In my situation, the opportunity was as simple as sitting at the stelling (dock). There you could often wave down a boat or hitch a ride, it could take a couple of hours and sometimes it did not work, but the possibility was there. I can recall finding numerous modes of transportation: floating market boats, shallow boats hand carved from trees and even massive lumber vessels that were willing to help, as long as you were there. Placing myself in the way of opportunity, jumping on these unique modes of transportation yielded amazing conversations, chances to learn about the culture and fostered some of my closest relationships.
Our American Samoa cohort recently had an excursion to breathtaking tide pools that are formed during low tide along the eastern shore. The afternoon was spent swimming in the freshly formed pools as the waves crashed vehemently into the surrounding rocks. As our trip continued, the local bus driver kindly extended an offer to take the volunteers on his personal boat, to tour a nearby island outcrop. Unexpectedly, we were able to spend time on the seas enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds our island! These special moments are often created by meeting people, forging relationships, accepting invitations, attending events that you would typically not attend…placing yourself “out there.”
For many WorldTeach participants, opening up and taking chances becomes a natural reflex, a progression that takes you on journeys you never dreamed of, provides you with unexpected experiences and adventures that are not found in your typical guidebook. We learn to overcome our reservations, initiate new encounters and launch ourselves into the numerous rivers of opportunity we encounter daily.
Wave down your boat, hitch a ride to the unexpected…
place yourself in the way of opportunity…
see where your next boat takes you.
Share with us your story of a time you took a chance!