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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Beginning

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).


  1. Jimmy, you amaze me everyday and I am so proud of you! Have so much fun and also try to be safe.... Love, Dad.

  2. JIMMY (yes, that's me yelling your name)...I'm so happy to hear you're in Aukland. I'm proud of the fact that you'll share your experience with those that are interested in checking in now and again. I love you and don't forget to take the Meladrone EVERY DAY....xoxoxoxo

  3. Wow!! Wish I had done this before college! You'll learn so much about yourself and what you really love and want to do in life BEFORE having to sign up for a bunch of expensive college classes. Be sure to blog EVERYDAY! And keep a scrapbook. That's what I did when I studied abroad in Florence. It's hard but so worth it. And it's easier when you have a bunch of avid readers ;)

    A few words from a wiseman:
    "Be good, but if you can't be good, becareful!"


  4. Jimmy!!!! So bummed didn't get to give you a big a squeeze before you left!! I am so proud of you and excited for all that you are about to experience! As I quoted in my high school year book some time ago:
    Take time to see the wonders of the world
    To see the things you've only ever heard of
    Dream life the way you think it ought to be
    See things you thought you'd never ever see....Human League

    Peace, Love and Light my Man!!

  5. Jimmy!!! (JAMES)...Im so excited for you its stupid! Actually, I am living vicariously through you officially. Yes I think we could all use a break from our normalities. Ok, so..I wish for you an invigorating, exhilarating, monkey-brain-free trip (um, China) I love you! Nancy

  6. Now that I've cleared my eyes of tears and finished reading your first blog (just THAT impresses me), I am sending you buckets of love from your Aunt & Uncle who are SO proud and two little cousins that have YOU to look up and aspire to... We adore you and cannot wait to follow your adventure. xoxo, Trace

  7. I'm in tears here Jimmy.....amazing you. Sorry never got to say goodbye to my surfing buddy, I will be looking forward to tons of updates....xxj.

  8. So cool.

    Memories and experiences to change your life and perspective are out there. Go get 'em my man....

  9. Jimmy we are so proud of you I remember when you just got back from Africa and how we talked all about Rustic Pathways I can't wait until Shannon does it and she just turned 15. Let us know all about NZ because she is going there in June with 5 friends and where they should go. We will miss you skiing this year. Lots of Luck and don't break too many hearts if you go to Australia I have a good friend there outside Sydney my Adventurer friend who dog sleds to the North Pole and goes down to the Titanic. Lots of Love Alicia

  10. Jimmy, when I stopped by to say goodbye, I saw, for the first time, a young man about to take the journey of a lifetime and I wondered what happened to that little boy Orlando and I used to laugh and play with? You were such a wonderful child, its no surprise you grew into such an amazing young man! How miraculous to realize at such a young age that life is all about being of service to others! I didn't come to that realization until I got sober at 35. You will always be my sober angel born on my 9 month sober date and an inspiration to me ever since. I am so proud of the man you have become and honored to share both a name and this incredible journey called life with you. I love you so much and am so very, very proud of you! XOXO BABA

  11. Dont forget we would love to see some pictures! xo

  12. Hey Jimmy,

    We're all so proud of you. It takes a lot to veer off the prescribed path and you're doing it. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!



  13. Good for you Jimmy... you certainly have selected an interesting and exciting action. You will gain enormously. Keep us up to date. GM and I are truly proud.
    love, GP

  14. Jimmy have a wonderful experience remember "he who hesitates is lost" GO FOR IT!!

  15. Jimmy!!! I wish I was with you right now!! You are so lucky. I am just back at home doing my stupid homework. Your going to have such a good time. You have inspired me to do the some of the things you did. We are all going to miss you at the Vermont house and in Aspen, but you'll be off doing better things. Hope to see some pictures!!
    :D Ella

  16. Hey Jimmy!!! Soooo happy that you are having this adventure!! We have relatives in Australia too if you get over there - No Matter what else will happen in your life you will always remember and be able to draw positive energy from all great interactions you'll have with the amazingly different yet somehow intriguingly similar wonderful people you will meet. Interesting thing about teaching or helping: it is a two-way street - you'll get way more than you'll give, which is the miraculous blessing of the joy of helping. We expected that you'd do good things and you have and you will continue to. Much love from Gina, Mark, Michael Paul, Rachael, Taos, and Liam xoxoxoxo Enjoy!!!!

  17. Jimmy,
    Congratulations Man, good luck on the trip, be safe, and its really great to know that there are people like you who care about others, and who go above and beyond. best of luck on the journeys you are about to embark on. You will be changing so many people's lives by educating them in english, and other core subjects. Congratulations Once Again, and hope to hear from you soon. Maybe I'll see you this summer...
    Enjoy your travels,
    Subi Chockalingam

  18. You are wonderful and I can't wait to sample all that you learn and do and experience and give to others on your trip. Have a fantastic adventure and know we are here with you...always watching...look at the baby...look at the baby...
    Seriously though, I'll paraphrase a college friend here, when he said he wanted to: "Drink down the world in one huge gulp and let it run down my chin and splash upon my shoes".
    Go get your shoes dirty!
    Much love,

  19. Baba is glad to hear you didn't do pussy! My advice, avoid pussy at all costs!