On the weekends, my team would return to Cairns City to stay in the volunteer house and get some urban experiences along with some tourist sightseeing opportunities. One of the trips I took was to Fitzroy Island off the coast of Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel and sea kayak for a whole day. . . . As I looked out over the beach into the crystal clear blue ocean, I suddenly felt really calm and decided to sit on the rocks for a bit since I had several hours on my own to snorkel in the morning. I sat on the rocks and thought about how much I felt I had grown in just a week’s time of being completely on my own during this trip.
I had never traveled internationally on my own before and thinking about the fact that I had done it just made me feel extremely independent and like I could handle anything that came my way. I think that is an experience that students should take advantage of because it makes you feel so free and in control of what happens in your life. There are many times I do not feel in control of my life and what happens in America, so being able to sit there and appreciate the journey I had taken on was really something. This world is a lot bigger than people my age might think and, if they have the chance, the opportunity to see it should be taken. Doing something like that and participating in a project like the one I did in the rainforest is definitely a spiritual experience because it means you have taken the initiative to be a part of something bigger than yourself. It means you have taken interest in something outside of your comfort zone and dove into it. I do not know that I ever have or may ever again feel as liberated as I did on that rock in the Pacific Ocean, but I know that I will always have that and that I have grown into a stronger, more independent individual because of this trip.