Travel

Global Volunteering as a Catalyst for Life Change

Have you lost your joy in life? Are you just going through the daily motions, dreaming of doing something, anything else but can’t break the Chinese finger trap of your mundane daily routine? I know exactly how you feel. I too was in a viscous soul-crushing grind. I worked for many years in corporate America crunching numbers and quickly climbing the ladder. I was successful at the climb and had all the accolades to prove it. “So why wasn’t I happy?” I asked myself that every day.

Then fate dealt me a manipulating supervisor that zapped my joy. But it was the wake-up call I needed to question what I was prioritizing in life. Was it money? Was it prestige? What? What did God really put me here for? I knew it wasn’t crunching numbers and writing reports in an office under fluorescent lighting and self-medicating my stress nightly with red wine.

After being skillfully puppeteered for a year, it finally dawned on me I had to leave my job and pursue my path to happiness and impact. I had to take a stand for myself. I needed new perspective. Ironically this persistently manipulating supervisor; instead of cowering me into a fetal position of compliance, became the open window I needed to fly out into the world and find my purpose and follow my passions and dreams. I wanted to serve others on a bigger scale. I made a strategic plan that covered all the angles; the financial freedom to leave the high-paying job for a much-needed hiatus, and the volunteer mission in Central America to heal my soul, make a difference and connect with God.

Arriving in Managua, Nicaragua was a jolt as I had been living in Princeton, NJ with every modern convenience. Americans think that means streaming a movie over Wi-Fi or remote-starting your car in the winter. What it really means to millions of people around the world is indoor plumbing and stable electricity. We’ve become so detached in our privileged bubble that our problems seem like traumas when in fact they are the problems of kings and queens.

This reality struck me deep in my being and instantly put things in perspective about my own issues. I made my problem seem so big. After apologizing to God and accepting what was essentially a gift of corrected vision toward the world, I dug in and got to work. I strengthened my Spanish language skills. I also took a six-week intensive practicum training course and I earned an international Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) teaching certificate, in country. I taught English to vibrant adolescents at National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) university in Leon, Nicaragua during the day and taught adults in the community at night. I also helped passionate youth develop a business plan to make money renting bikes to tourists.

Moving four hours further west, more towards the border of Honduras, while in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua, I got used to having no electricity, no running water, and bathing outside by pouring a cold bucket of well water over my head. As there are no cars in this remote community, I learned to appreciate walking 20 minutes to work on dirt roads, listening to a cacophony of parrots all around me. I lost 16 pounds! My colleagues now became the roaming community cows, pigs, chickens that walked along the dirt road with me daily to work at the nonprofit, Grupo Fenix. God had taught me what real priorities are and they’re not material; they’re not even physical. They’re spiritual.

My perspective on the world, my priorities and my life were completely transformed. I came home with new priorities for my life. I would enroll friends, family and colleagues in my new possibilities and share insights and knowledge with others through speaking, writing books and coaching individuals and businesses on conscious leadership, purposeful community impact and employee empowerment and engagement. I started LightShift360, LLC to achieve that goal. I found my purpose for good, in many ways.

I invite you to step out of your comfort zone, travel the world, meet new people and gain a new perspective for your life. 

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