It’s human nature to be aware of our surroundings and assess others around us in order to avoid negative confrontations or situations, but in this day and age, people have turned to social media to attack and it’s sometimes challenging to avoid these sort of confrontations. It’s one thing to offer constructive criticism, it’s another to provide support, and it’s a whole other ballgame when someone judges someone else based off of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or even a simple positive goal. Constructive criticism throughout this Expedition has really helped me to grow, it’s been challenging to read some of the comments about myself and my Mission, but those types of comments have only helped to better my Mission. The positive comments are what keep me going. But let’s be honest, the judgmental ones, serve no purpose to any of our lives. I’m going to address the top 3 most common comments that I receive regarding both my Mission and myself.
Not Spending Enough Time in Each Country
“Only 2-5 days in each country?! There is no way you can experience true travel or a culture/country with only spending 2-5 days in each country. She’s not seeing anything. Let’s be honest, she’s not really traveling.” (quoted from critics)
It all comes down to two words: time management. One could spend Saturday and Sunday chilling at home watching Netflix (totally okay, I am guilty of that at times) or traveling to 5 places within one country, 5 countries within those two days, doing an Ironman, etc etc.. It’s all a matter of choice. I have lived in the US for 27 years and have not been to every state and have not learned the depths about our own history, as I should.
Alternatively, back in 2011, I lived/worked in Peru for 2 months and only saw Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu. Where on the other hand, on this Expedition I was in Jordan for 2 days and met with the Mayor of Amman, gave a keynote session to the students of Mashrek International School, traveled 3 hours to the Dead Sea and another 3 hours to Petra, experienced the Bazzar, the Archeological Museum, mosque and several other art sites while getting probably a total of 10 hours sleep between those three days. So, when it comes to these 196 countries, sure, I don’t get to see everything, but most people don’t. It also comes down to budgeting. If I had an unlimited budget, I’d probably spend at least 5 days in each country, but I don’t, since all funding has been accumulated through sponsors and investors for the documentary I’m filming, all on my own. It’s also a priority for me to give keynote session to the students, promoting the good of cultures though my YouTube videos, planting trees and collecting water samples to test for micro plastics. I wear many hats, and while the general public might think that 2-5 days is nothing… think twice, and do a little bit of research on my expedition and you’ll see that I’m burning myself out, with no complaints at all, trying to see and do it all in correlation to both my Humanitarian Mission all the while trying experiencing and soaking in as much as I can. I travel alone so that I can experience more, talk to more people, learn their stories, have time to reflect and think, and I encourage traveling alone for the same reasons.
Prior to this Expedition, between the ages of 21 and 23, I saved up $2,000 between Lifeguarding and Babysitting (in between studying), to travel to 25 countries on my own. It was here that I really traveled off the beaten path, worked along the way, lived in 8 different countries working whatever odd jobs I had to do to keep going, and really took the time to immerse myself in the way of live of these countries; sleeping in train stations, not eating much so that I could put that money towards another experience. But this Expedition has a completely different Mission, a different core value, and there’s something to be said about achieving a major goal set fourth for both humanity and oneself. I choose to give myself, my all, on this Expedition, even if it means spending less time in some countries so that I have the funding to get to the next to speak to the students, plant trees, and collect samples, then so be it. This is my life’s work.
Let me know if you have any other questions, I’d be happy to answer. Alternatively, you can check out my YouTube channel, Youtube.com/expedition196 to see some of my experiences.
“She’s flying on 200+ flights a year, she’s in no way practicing what she preaches in regards to sustainability, she’s a fraud”
Traveling to 196 countries by plane, flying as much as I do, is of course not considered sustainable by any means. How I promote sustainable travel, is first, by educating university students who are studying tourism, on the importance of responsible travel, which encompasses both sustainability and regeneration within the hospitality and tourism industry. There are many universities around the world whose students I’ve spoken to have no idea what sustainability even means. My Mission is to educate them on not only what it is, but how they can further sustainable development and support within their own careers in the hospitality/tourism industry.
Personally speaking, I have made it a goal to completely offset my own carbon footprint by 2020 from Expedition 196, which is a project that has continued on even after the completion of Expedition 196. The tree planting project to offset my carbon footprint, is something I’m both focusing on during this Expedition (having planted 52 trees to date in over 16 countries) and is already a continual project as of my February 2nd, 2017 finish. I’m also working on a Universal Student Internship Program which will be addressing both #13 and #16 of the UNSDGs, but #13 pertaining to sustainability, as it focuses on “Climate Action”. This project is a way for my long term goal of promoting sustainable travel and tourism to alleviate climate change, to come to fruition. Sustainable tourism has been my career since the age of 21, so it’s of course a passion of mine and there’s no way that I’d do this trip without achieving the goal of eliminating my carbon footprint thereafter… it’s a fun project, actually. The Universal Student Internship Program that I’m developing will work to alleviate Climate Change through Responsible (sustainable/regenerative) Travel. So while yes, my carbon footprint is high right now, I am developing a long term plan to not only eliminate my carbon footprint, but millions of other travelers carbon footprint as well. Expedition 196 isn’t just a little journey to break a world record, that’s just the front of it that everyone sees on the media… but it’s the depth that matters, and I have 8 projects in the works that are all working in some way, towards a more sustainable future.
If you’re interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to reach out personally. Alternatively, instead of educating others on what you think is to be true about another woman’s project, please do your research beforehand, and reach out to that person personally before making assumptions.
The TV Show
“She’s a horrible b*$&@ who is completely selfish and should kill herself for the way she treated the others. She lied about everything about who she is and her survival skills which were nonexistent, and she’s not a team player. What a whore, what a slut, nice ass, I’d f*$& her, but she’s a worthless piece of white c*&$.”
Mistake number one that I made, was signing the papers to be on that show. If someone had told me, “Hey… by signing these papers you accept all hate comments from millions of people continually for the rest of your life and also us airing the show at least once a month and we will make sure you’re seen as the villain”… there’s no way I would have signed on. I never knew what the repercussions were of being on a reality TV show. At the time, I was going door to door selling Verizon Wireless cell phone plans working for a pyramid scheme company where I had no steady income while living in Washington DC, struggling to pay rent and my bills, and not feeling as though I was going anywhere in life. The aftermath of this show was much worse than the experience itself. But it was actually the negativity and hatred that gave me the push I needed to pursue a lifelong dream. So, thank you haters :).
Mistake number two was thinking I had any survival skills at all… I’m not a survivalist, but I never did claim to be anyways. I was raised with an education of survival tactics in school that carried out through college, but I never was really that into it. We live and learn, and I never could have known what I was really going into since I’d never done such a type of survival experience in my life.
Mistake number three was thinking that I could give it one last shot at being a “team player”. I’ve always been a lone wolf and have always been someone to do independent sports (such as triathlon) and work alone rather in team settings. I was kidding myself thinking that I could work as a team with others, let alone to survive. Perhaps being in that team setting was a mistake, and that’s okay. It was that experience that taught me to relish the fact that I like to work alone, and here I am working to alleviate world problems through my own personal project spanning 196 countries. But I do have to say, that while the show made it look like I did nothing but eat other peoples food, sleep and sulk… I did do a lot of work on the sidelines for the team, but just did it alone, which of course they weren’t going to film. I made shoes, the oar, a bamboo shoot to catch rainwater, collected nuts, snails, built the shelter, did tend the fire, etc. etc. I tried my hardest, but of course it was never enough.
So there’s me admitting to my mistakes, yet again. Can we move on now?
That show was 3 years ago, a 60 minute segment of “reality tv” which encompassed so much editing to where of course, there’s a villain, that I of course had the privilege to be blessed with (sarcasm). We were all dehydrated, sleep deprived, starving, and freezing most of the time. Those elements combined with 4 adults in a 4ft by 4ft shelter will never show anyones good side. But to judge someone you’ve never reached out to and spoken to, never met, based off of a reality TV show made solely for entertainment purposes, is just absurd. It makes me question the authenticity of those certain people who are indeed sitting behind a computer screen, feeling grace as they tear apart another human being, which would obviously hurt that person emotionally. Part of what my experience on Naked and Afraid taught me, was that I was lying to myself about my capabilities, about my ability to work well with others, to really assess my composition, whether or not I am indeed, selfish.
The aftermath of my experience on that show made me feel as though I was not utilizing my abilities, this body, this life that I was given. I decided to make it a life goal to change myself for the better and do everything in my possible power, to help the world as much as I could, something I felt that I was born to do but could never muster up the courage until the aftermath of that show. For me, that came down to educating the millennial generation, specifically students who are studying tourism and hospitality, around the world, on peace through economics, responsible tourism, and women’s achievement. The 12,500 students and dignitaries I’ve spoken to, the 45 trees I’ve planted in 15 countries, the 12 water samples in 11 countries that I’ve collected to test for the presence of micro plastics, and the thousands of young women and men I’ve inspired along the way to follow their dreams, is to me, albeit a tiny way of making a difference while also improving myself. Non-judgement of others; religions, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Because judgement at the end of the day does not help anyone. Constructive criticism does, but judgement does not. But I must say, whether or not I get your stamp of approval or anyone elses for that matter, does not mean a thing to me. Why? Because no one will ever know my life’s story like I do. No one will ever know anyone’s life story like they do.
Instead, perhaps try reaching out to learn more about their story… or alternatively, don’t say anything at all.