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Traveling for a Cause

Traveling for me has always been about adventure. The excitement of seeing new places, learning new things, trying new foods, and meeting new people motivates me to bear the TSA security lines in search of unforgettable experiences. So when my nieces asked me to travel with them to Chihuahua, Mexico, for a seven-night mission trip, I enthusiastically agreed.

Chihuahua houses the largest population center for the Tarahumara people. Like many native populations, the Tarahumara are endangered by a number of external factors, including but not limited to deforestation, climate change, and the constant encroachment of modern development. It is a difficult situation, and one of which I knew little before arriving in Mexico.

After getting over the initial shock of being told what to do on a vacation, I went about my duties, spending most of my time cleaning up a community center for Tarahumara children and doing crafts projects with the children themselves. They were adorable, and despite the obstacles facing them, excited and happy to be spending some leisure time with the volunteers.

The concept of ”volun-tourism” has many detractors, who criticize short stints of aid work without long-term commitments to sustainable development. But I can tell you that even if the trip wasn’t the adventure I was hoping for, it was an eye-opening one for me, and more importantly, for my young nieces. So if a short trip to do a little bit of good is all you can handle, and you come back and spend your time sharing what you learned about the world, I think that it’s worth it in the end.

Della Fencl | Jun 20, 2015