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What lucky people we are here at World Endeavors. Every day we get proof that we have the best job ever. The proof we are talking about is the scores of World Endeavors participants who come home every month to join the ranks of our treasured alumni. A simple peek into their testimonies and stories reminds us that widening one’s perspective and world view has ripple effects into every corner of a life. These alumni have had amazing experiences – bathing with rehabilitating elephants, teaching children in rural villages, assisting fashion designers, joining a world-class marketing team, studying in sun-drenched, wood paneled libraries, exploring terrain half a globe away from home — and the list goes on and on! Even within this courageous, dynamic group of individuals, some stand out as having truly made the most of their opportunity. We want to share some common traits that make these people so effective and successful in their experience abroad:

  1. They were great communicators – One trait they all share is how well they could get their point across. These alumni were clear from the beginning about what they were looking for in a program. They listened well and asked questions that lead to more discoveries. They were able to find a program that was a great fit because they took the time to share a well-thought out list of priorities. Then, when they actually began their program, they continued to let our staff know about what was working and what issues they had right away. We heard from staff at their projects that they took initiative and were always asking for direction and more information on how they could be successful. When our hall of famers returned home, they gave us useful feedback to make the program better and to help share their amazing experiences with others.
  2. They were patient – A big life change, like moving somewhere new (no matter the duration) takes a lot of patience and waiting. There is no fast-track or easy pill for acclimating to a new surrounding. It simply takes time. A quick fix for being lonely in a new spot? It doesn’t exist. There are tools and skills that help with transitions and make them easier but some of the most character building events in life simply take practice and patience. Our stand out alumni seemed to know this intuitively. These alumni seemed to embrace their role of new comer and novice with exceptional grace. Did everything go smoothly for them? Not always. But with a sense of humor and calm, they waited out the sometimes lonely or awkward moments of getting to know a new place and embraced the learning opportunities that came their way.
  3. They saw the bigger picture – Quite possibly the most useful skill, our alumni who seemed to have the most ease in their programs understood how they fit into a larger world community. They respected people above agendas and achievements, and were kind and considerate in all of their relationships. They were grateful for the help and care of others. They respected the unique views and customs of their hosts and host community. They basically understood that it wasn’t all about them, and because of this humility, they made deeper connections, found more chances to make a difference, and enjoyed the journey.

Within each traveler is the potential to develop all of these traits. Often, all it takes is reminding ourselves to value these qualities and try to find a chance everyday to use them.

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