This truth has been repeated by so many Academy team members who’ve made the trip to Verde Sumaco. And even for veterans of numerous international service trips, like Elsa Jensen, a Brand Media Manager from Riverton, Utah, this expedition was truly a step outside her comfort zone.
“I have been on about 10 humanitarian trips in many different places and countries similar to this one throughout my life,” she said. “I thought I was an expert, but this trip still succeeded at pushing me outside of my comfort zone. It’s the small things: What’s the boat ride going to be like? Will I have easy access to a bathroom? How hot will it really be? What if I get sick?”
But it’s the act of facing those fears, and stepping into the unknown, that truly changes people’s lives and perspectives.
As Elsa said, “In the village, there are no distractions, no security blanket of our phones or our jobs, so we take the time to be with the villagers, and with each other. It was very unifying to take the time to really see someone and learn about their life, whether it be a villager or a fellow Academy team member. It really showed me that we often don’t take the time to understand one another, and you can really see the difference it makes when we do take the time to understand each other better.”