Kayleigh Zeeff:

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Six months ago, I had never looked at a travel blog. Amsterdam was just a place that I saw in a movie. Italy was a country that could be summed up by its capital, Rome, in all its tourism and attractions. The Eiffel Tower was a popular keychain that I would only see hanging from the ignition in my car.

I could go on, but I’ll pause here for a brief moment of silence for the passing of my ignorance and small-mindedness, may it rest in peace. But also, good riddance.

I moved to Spain in January, but still had no idea that an entire new continent was at my disposal, let alone a whole world. My university companions began making lists of extravagant places to which they wanted to travel, and I felt confused and dazed. But after I spontaneously took my first trip since being in Spain to Tangier, Morocco, my mindset was shifted. I saw a culture and a people that had never crossed my mind before that trip. I saw mountains and seas that left me blinking rapidly, trying to wake up from the dream that I figured could be the only way I was viewing that kind of beauty. I rode a camel on the beach and wore a headscarf traditional to that region; I had deep conversations about the fleeting concept of life and the poison of self-involvement with a girl who became my best friend. My life was put into perspective in those few days, and from then on I felt the travel hunger rising.

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AVAILABLE NOW!!!

 

When I first conceived of the idea months ago, it was a modest dream: a dozen or so writers contributing to a small book to support two outstanding charities (Unbound and Save the Children). That vision has given way to reality, and what a wondrous reality it has become.

Over 80 travelers and writers from all over the world and from all walks of life signed up with a shared goal: to sponsor and support children everywhere. Each contributor is sharing a trip that changed his/her life. The finished product, a book appropriately titled The Trip that Changed My Life, will comprise of these incredibly diverse stories.

Gergana from Bulgaria is writing about her life-altering adventures traversing the Sahara Desert. Ivonne from Guatemala shares how her to move to Madrid gave her the confidence to tackle all of life’s many challenges. Eric from Vermont retells his epic adventure with then friend and future wife Tara and how that trip gave him wings to cross the divide between youth and adulthood. Noemi from the Philippines provides a humbling story of what it means to be happy with her visit to a friend in Doha. And even 7 months old Manny from Seattle is getting in on the fun, dictating his many milestones on a trip to Vegas to his doting father.

These are just some examples of the stories readers will enjoy in the book that is AVAILABLE NOW at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-trip-that-changed-my-life-book-for-charity/x/13856908#/

 

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I could stop writing here and accomplish everything I needed to provide awareness to our beautiful endeavor, but this project has evolved into something more than what I had anticipated – and it’s this evolution that has given me the most joy.

While I will be contributing a story of my own about the trip that changed my life, being a part of this project has also changed my life. I’ve met so many wonderful people friends whose enthusiasm, energy, and spirit of collaboration have breathed life and hope into my being. Originally, I envisioned that the stories would inspire others to go on their own life changing adventures, but having read through the submitted stories so far and interacting with these great friends, I AM THE ONE INSPIRED!

Over the years as an adult (sounds scary, right?) I’ve learned to ignore the news because it’s full of despair, pain, suffering, atrocities, hate, violence, death, and greed. So to give myself that glimmer of hope in the goodness of humanity, I started this project. Humanity answered. Friends all over the world answered my call.

We didn’t put our differences aside. We embraced our differences because that’s the stuff that makes life beautiful. That’s what makes traveling so special. 

This is no longer my project. It’s OUR project. It’s OUR book. We invite ALL OF YOU to join us and make a positive impact AND receive an awesome book as well. Say hi to any of us on our Facebook Page, read more about our project on Release Wire or here, GET THE BOOK and/or contact me (Hung Thai) with anything at ht@upupandabear.com.

On behalf of the Project Alpha team, THANK YOU!!!

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I tried to cry but I couldn’t do it. It was 5 AM and the bus rolled slowly by the neighborhood – I wouldn’t see this place again for another 12 years. We passed by houses of friends I would leave behind. And I tried really hard to cry but I couldn’t do it. I suppose I was too young to realize what was really going on. We arrived at the airport and the rest was a blur.

That first day in America was especially hard, from what I can remember anyway. Imposing skyscrapers, roads that seem to defy gravity, and other cars zooming by scared me. I rolled up in a ball like a frightened kitty in the space between the seats, too scared to sit properly. That night, relatives poured in from all over the Bay Area to see us. It was too much for my little feeble brain to handle. Children ran around the house, screaming, laughing, having a good old time, and once in a while would glance my way, wondering who that unkempt, alien looking boy was. I tried to cry then but I couldn’t do it.

A month later, I started school – 4th grade a few weeks before summer. I couldn’t understand anything so I was placed in ESL class. One day, as we were lining up after recess to go back in, a rogue football hit me in the head. At that moment, everything around me disappeared and I was all alone. I sat down and started to cry. And I cried and cried. I suppose I finally realized where I was – how lonely I felt. And at that point, I said to myself, I will NEVER cry again. I will not let this language barrier be the wall before me. 

That summer I walked to the library every day and tried to read every Goosebumps on the shelves. Before the night fell, I would borrow 2-3 books and under the blanket’s cover, read them and obsessed over them until they were finished so that I could return them and borrow more the next morning.

It took a week at the start of 5th grade for the teachers to realize I no longer needed ESL class. Holding that certificate was the happiest moment in my young life. I haven’t looked back since.

As I reminisce, I wonder how many little boys and girls out there are realizing their place in life. And I wonder how many of them would have the opportunity to dedicate their summers to read every book at the library or if they have to work in the streets to help their family, as I’ve seen so many times during my travels. I wonder where I would be if it wasn’t for that summer.

I started Project Alpha with the hope of giving that young boy/girl somewhere out there the opportunity to change his/her life. Will you join me?

To learn more about this charitable book project, please visit Project Alpha.

Travel on my friends.

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