Why Everyone Should Travel

 As I prepare to head out of the country next week I’ve been thinking about why I travel. I’ve been a bit of a rolling stone most of my life, moving 10 times before I graduated high school and pursuing a career as a professional photographer which has taken me to over 100 countries.

Gail at the Great Pyramids 1971
Gail in Egypt 1971

I think if I ever had to give up traveling I would wither and my spirit would die.

Here are my top ten reasons that I think every American (and other citizens of the world) should travel:

  • It gives you a much better perspective on our world rather than just experiencing it virally. Let’s face it, when you are an armchair traveler, you are getting someone else’s perspective.
  •  It makes one grateful for what they have. Many, if not most Americans are very privileged but don’t really have an understanding of that because they isolate themselves in their own environment.
  • You get to be a true diplomat for your country. When I’m traveling I try to give people from other countries and cultures a more realistic idea what an American is beyond our government’s policies and how we are depicted in the movies.
  • It creates lasting memories of importance or at least memories that last longer than buying a consumer product.
  • It teaches you a lot about yourself. When you travel things don’t always go according to plan. You get to see how you handle stress in situations beyond your control.
  • You learn how to communicate. Many times you don’t understand the language and you learn to read body language and pick up people’s vibes.
  • You meet people you would never get to meet at home. It makes you less fearful when you get to meet people from other lands.
  • As a photographer my camera has given me access to incredible experiences that I have shared with the world.
  • You can affect change.
    Gail showing video to children of remote Amazon village, Peru
    Gail with children in small village along Amazon River, Peru

    When you travel you realize that regardless which country you come from we are all part of the human race. We all share this planet and we are all stewards of keeping it healthy.

  • It brings wonder to your life. I have had many awe- inspiring moments and not all of them were at typical tourist sites. Some of my greatest memories are the simple conversations that I’ve had with people all around the world.

Check out some of the images that I’ve captured from my journeys. www.kellymooney.com

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Maggie Doyne – a Bright Light in Our Troubled World

The other night, Maggie Doyne of Blink Now,  became the CNN 2015 Hero of the Year. Maggie is a 29 year-old American woman, who has 50 kids and lives in Nepal!

Maggie Doyne, Erin and Gail at the Kopila Valley Childrens Home, Surkhet, Nepal
Erin and I with Maggie Doyne and her children, Kopila Valley Children’s Home, Surkhet, Nepal

Maggie’s story and the path she decided to take early on in life, has touched the hearts of people around the globe and changed the lives of hundreds of Nepalese women and children.

Maggie was a high school classmate of my daughter, Erin. After graduation, Maggie decided to take a gap year and travel before heading off to college. Eventually, she ended up in Nepal and saw a country devastated by 10 years of civil war and thousands of orphaned children left in its wake. She used her babysitting savings to buy property and build a home for herself and orphaned children – she was 19 years old. Maggie has 50 children now, has built a primary school for 250 kids and is currently building a high school.

When Maggie accepted the Hero of the Year award the other night, she said; “ And to all of you in this room and who are watching, please, please remember that we have the power to create the world that we want to live in”. She’s done just that and has inspired countless others, to do the same.   She inspired my daughter and I to seek out other individuals all over the world who were creating positive change and to make a film about them, with the hopes it would inspire others to make a difference.

Imagine if we all thought like Maggie and believed we all have the power to create the world that we want to live in. The fact is we do have that power. It starts with the little things we can do – in our own lives, in our family’s lives and in our communities. Small things have a way of growing into big things. When you educate one child, you change a life that has the potential to change other lives.

Maggie, you continue to inspire me. You are a bright light in a troubled world and a beacon of hope. Congratulations for this well deserved honor.

 

If you’d like to watch Opening Our Eyes, a film about Maggie and other change makers, you can view it here. Use the code THANKS2015.

The Power of Yes

I’ve just experienced one of the most extraordinary weekends of my life – all because I said yes.  Barely more than a week ago, I sent an email with a link to the trailer of my documentary to Rebecca Self,

Rebecca Self at the European Summit for Global Transformation

who I was introduced to by two of the subjects in my film, Letha Sandison and Maggie Doyne.

Letha Sandison and Maggie Doyne

Rebecca is an amazing woman – she’s a connector of change makers.  The day after Rebecca got my email, she replied “Would you consider coming to Amsterdam this weekend and showing your trailer at The European Summit for Global Transformation.  My first thought was “wow” – and with a title like that, it was bound to be a gathering of very interesting people.  My next thought was, “it’s not possible – there’s not enough time – the airfare will be high” etc. etc.  All very practical thoughts – right?

And then I flipped it and told myself all the reasons I should say yes. I ‘d have the opportunity to show a culturally diverse audience a sample of my film and talk about the idea behind it. I would get to see Letha and Maggie again because they were going to be speaking.  And most importantly, I would be spending the weekend with people that not only believed that anything is possible – but are making the impossible happen, together. So I replied to Rebecca and said YES.

For two days I listened, as all kinds of people told their stories – people who are actively doing things that are making our world a better place. They awed me with their courage, their commitment and their passion.  But the most empowering part of the conference was connecting with these people, who were not only there to talk about what they were doing, but also to network with others to help them make their commitments a reality.

As I write this, on my last night in Amsterdam. I’m ready to head out to have one final dinner with some of the most fascinating  people I have ever met.  It has been a powerful weekend, being part of this group of people, from all over the world that are making extraordinary things happen.  This is what my film is all about – the power of the individual, working together to make things happen – across the globe.

To be able to show my ten-minute trailer to these amazing change makers was an honor and reward in itself.  But to spend the weekend with such a unique group of people who believe that anything is possible, was extraordinary and fortified me as I go forward in editing over 150 hours of footage.

I have a friend who is always telling me that I need to say “no” more often – because I tend to spread myself too thin.  But this time, I was glad I said “yes”.

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