Hey guys, my name is Jimmy Mack. In case you haven’t read my bio page I’ll tell you what I’m blogging about, but first you need a little history (sorry about this first post, the rest will be shorter). The summer after my sophomore year of high school is probably where this all begins. I was a fifteen year old boy. Chasing girls, playing video games, and blowing off homework were my main concerns. But, my parents had different plans for me. They saw how sheltered I was and didn’t want me spending another summer without experiencing some part of the real world. A few phone calls and 8 hours of research later, they decided Rustic Pathways was the best way to experience that.
Now, I’m not being paid to advertise this organization, but the programs are amazing and you can practically go to any country. The programs are centered on three main areas: performing community service, studying culture, and having the time of your life. So one day, my parents told me that I would be going to Tanzania to help a village build part of its school. I was petrified. I had never been away from home for 3 weeks before, and fifteen didn’t seem like a good age to give it a try. But try I did.
So 2 weeks late I was in Tanzania and it was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. Although I did help build part of a local school, there was so much more to it. I played with the local children (who schooled me at soccer every day), met lifelong friends (we were a group of 10 people), played some cards instead of video games, and toured a beautiful country that was in need of help. One aspect about the country that my attention was that even though the people had almost nothing, they were willing to give away whatever they had to support our efforts. It was remarkable and life changing. So much so that when I came back I was thoroughly depressed. I lay in my room for a whole week, wanting to be back in a place where I could make a difference. Then, I was hit by a notion. I wanted to break the normal routine of the high school student. I wanted to have experiences like that until the day I died.
So when senior year came around, I chose to act on that notion. My parents and I thought of many options, doing community service on weekends, transferring to a new school, taking classes at sea. But none were in our budget. We turned to my guidance counselor and decided early graduation was the best option. From there I signed up for 9 half year classes and for another adventure through Rustic Pathways. This trip, however, had to cover the 4 months after my graduation in January.
The next step was deciding which countries to travel to, and what to do in those countries. For the month of February I chose to travel around New Zealand and Fiji, studying culture while I’m there. I also chose to study Chinese culture and language in China during March, because I personally think it will be enlightening to learn about the culture that is dominating today’s world. At this point I wanted April and May to be centered on community service. I chose Thailand for the month of April, where I will be staying at a Rustic Pathways base camp to help tutor local children in English. May, however, I am still in a limbo with. I’m not yet positive if I can afford another month, but if I can it will either be another month in Thailand (doing community service) or a month in Costa Rica (again doing community service).
The next 5 months of school were different than any other year. I was detached from my friends, concentrating more on getting into college than anything else. I wanted my senior year to be one I could be proud of, so I stopped partying, did my homework, and studied for my ACTs. The funny thing is that I never once questioned if I was doing the right thing (in graduating early). I was determined to set myself apart. It worked. And here we are now, after 5 months, I’ve done everything I could to ascend to this level. I’ve applied to great colleges; my friends threw me a going away party, and I said goodbye to my parents and brother who I won’t see for four months (my mom broke down before I even opened my mouth to say bye and my brother asked if he could have my Xbox). So here I am, on a plane to New Zealand, writing my first post. Never thought this day would come, but now that it has, there’s a burning sensation of accomplishment and determination in the pit of my stomach. It’s a good sensation.
So, now that you know my story, the main purpose of writing my blog is to share my adventure and to show how normality can be broken. The experiences in which you break through your comfort zone and the monotony of everyday routines are the most exhilarating and fun moments of life (in my opinion) and I want to share them. The plane is landing at the moment, but I’ll keep up to date with every new and exciting moment (and they’ll be shorter than this post).