I’ve always been an explorer at heart, wanting to experience all the beautiful things that the world has to offer. I love travel because I love to meet people: I love to build friendships and I love to observe how people succeed and fulfill their dreams. It is a big world out there, and every corner of it is different. But I’ve come to discover that, as people, we are actually all quite the same. And as a human, I have learned to be grateful for one thing in particular—Connection. The more opportunity I have to travel, the more I have learned the importance and beauty of true connection with people.
There are a few places on my bucket list that I’ve been wanting to visit for several years. This is rare, because my job allows me to travel a lot (which I’m grateful for). You would think that your travel list would get shorter the more you travel – right? Well in my life I have found the exact opposite to be true. The more I travel, the more people I meet who convince me of how many more wonderful places in the world there are still left to explore. One of these places, for me, was Papua New Guinea.
I had the opportunity to visit Papua New Guinea just a couple of months ago, and I was so excited to finally go. I spent several months planning what I was going to pack into my one allotted suitcase. What I didn’t realize was how much Papua New Guinea would change my perspective on travel and how I connect with people.
When we landed on the dirt airstrip in a small village in the Eastern Highlands of PNG, there were thousands of villagers waiting for us. I have been to very remote places before, but never before had I been to a place this remote. No phones, no roads, no cars, no houses, no packaged food, no stores, and definitely no internet.
In Papua New Guinea, there are over 800 tribes & 800 different languages (or dialects). And it was here, in a place where I felt so disconnected from the rest of the world, that I found true connection.
One of the first friends that I met was Espional. Espional grew up in a small village in PNG and guided us on our entire stay in the country. I came to become great friends with Espional, and learned about his family, his home, his community, and his village. He shared with me some of his most precious moments, many of which were spending time with his sweet family.
In my life I have always struggled to find balance. I have a huge fear of missing out and can’t say no. This often leads me to spend all my waking hours working on project after project, instead of doing what brings true happiness – connecting. As I reflect on this past year and what I’m grateful for, I find myself remembering the precious time I spent in PNG, tucked remotely away from the pull of Instagram and email, sharing and connecting with Espional and his family.
Despite what our next project, item on our agenda, or calendar tells us, connecting with people is what brings true happiness, and this is what I am most grateful for. Connection is Everything.