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My name is Chase McGee. I’m at 18 and a senior at Mount Desert Island High School. I enjoy playing music, getting outdoors, and hanging out with friends and family. I will be attending college in North Carolina next fall where I’ll study sustainable agriculture and ecology. I have not traveled extensively outside of the U.S., and I am really stoked to be in Guatemala for a couple weeks and experience a new part of the world.

Recently, our MDIHS Guatemala group read the essay Why We Travel by Pico Iyer. There were many profound and interested things in this text, but one quote that struck me in particular is as follows: “We need sometimes to escape into open solitude, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what.” I find this excerpt so interesting because it touches on so many aspects of travel which are beneficial to one’s well being and growth. This quote shows that travel is a tool that we use to find new surroundings, and abandon spaces in which we feel comfortable. While traveling, we must let go of many routines and rituals that we practice at home, in order to experience our new surroundings as a free individual. Travel also allows us to wander and lose some of our notions and perspective, if we let it. We can establish new feeling, original thoughts, discover a deeper or newer level of our own identity. We can indeed take a “moral holiday”, allowing some of our ethics and morals to disappear and be replaced by our new external world and culture. By also allowing fear and discomfort to be at the forefront of our experience, we can remove ourselves from the convenience for which sacrifice so many things. We must stop at nothing to take everything we experience into our soul, live in a constant state of content struggle. I believe that this quote epitomizes the reasons why and the manner in which we should travel.

I feel that I am able to empathize well with others, and I think that this will be a necessary skill both for our MDIHS Guatemala group as well as others I encounter during the trip. I am very excited to grow in other ways during the trip, and I am prepared to absorb every moment and live presently in Guatemala.

See you soon!