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Irene Dispatch

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Irene Archive



What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been


I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was told that someone named Abeja Hummel and two other people were waiting for me in the hallway. I thought they were going to tell me that they were unhappy about a controversial (a topic that people argue about) story I had written about Zimbabwe.

As it turns out, Abeja and the visitors had read my story, but they weren't angry. They liked my article. They told me that they traveled the world and wrote stories for a web site to educate kids. I was stunned. "No way! I want your job!" I told them. That is how I learned about the Odyssey.


To the Ocean

I was jealous of their world travels. When I got an email saying that that a US Trek was forming, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. Now the trek is over, and I am very thankful for the journey I've had.

I don't know yet how the Odyssey experience has changed my life. While I was trekking, I didn't have time to think about it. I was just worried about finding a place to sleep and getting my articles in on time. As I write this, I'm thinking, "What a long, strange, amazing trip it's been."

I've been challenged in so many new ways. I learned how to drive a stick-shift car, how to camp, and how to bowl a strike. I went hiking and rattlesnake hunting. I canoed the Missouri River and ate gumbo. Since I spent many long hours in the car, I learned to like many different kinds of music. I met students across the country who showed me young people are very cool.

Most of all, I got to spend the last nine months with nine awesome teammates. They proved to me that it's possible to change the world one person at a time. I learned so much from each of them. Our founder, Jeff Golden, is an amazing person that I wish everyone could meet.

Some of the dispatches I wrote are especially memorable. I remember crying as I listened to a reverend who saw Martin Luther King die. I met a bunch of Quakers with a conscience. I also met many wonderful activists, teachers and kind people who let us into their homes.

A lot of the things I have written about are bad parts of our country's history. Frederick Douglass said, "He is a true patriot who does not excuse the sins of his country." That means that in order to be a good citizen (a member of your country), you have to make sure that your country is a good and fair place to live. On the Trek, I met many people who work very hard. There are also many people have died fighting to make our country better. Because of those people, you and I have a lot of opportunities. I hope that like me, you want to work to make our country and the world a better place.


Please email me at: irene@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Rebecca - Learning about life by living it - with gusto!
Daphne - The Odyssey Trek: A cult of the BEST kind!
Jennifer - To America the beautiful and the friendly
Neda - So what exactly is a "trekker" anyway?
Nick - Taking the road less traveled
Stephanie - Make the Trek part of who you are
Stephen - Have a little faith and it will get you through