My STEP Project: Australia and New Zealand Leadership

Hmm where do I even begin? This trip was the trip of a lifetime. 22 others and I explored the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand and the adventures Australia had to offer. We hiked, kayaked, bused, boated, snorkled, hiked again (and again and again), and more for 23 days. Not to mention, every day, two people were “Leaders of the Day” and they had to guide our group to the finish of that day’s journey by working together and fine-tuning their leadership skills.

This trip transformed me in more ways than one, and this aspect honestly surprised me the most. Never did I think I would become so close to a group of people I had only met a month before. Never did I think that the beauty of nature would bring tears to my eyes. Never did I think I would go bungy jumping AND sky diving. But, those are all events that happened, and I am exponentially grateful. My eyes are now open to the possibilities in the world around me. I have the ability to take on so much and accomplish whatever I put my mind to.

I have always been shy, I tend to struggle to make new friends because of this fact. When I signed up for this trip, I feared with all of my heart the the people alongside me would just carry-on and forget I existed, while I watched from the outside. I mean, this has been happening my whole life, so I am quite used to it after all. But, that was Never the case. Everyone was so warm and open to making friends that I felt included from the beginning. I never realized that making friends should be easy and fun. This makes me think that all my life I have been trying to befriend the wrong people. I’ll keep this lesson close to my heart in the future.

Secondly, I love our earth and everything she has to offer. But, I have never been so moved by her beauty that I have actually cried. Well, the Doubtful Sound in New Zealand changed that. When the heavy reality of all that surrounds us hit me, I lost it. I will always remember this moment and now will try to appreciate the beauty of nature every single day.

And lastly, I learned I have some grit. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I would go bungy jumping off of a bridge in freezing temperatures or skydiving at 5 a.m. to have a 360 degree sunrise surrounding me as a plummeted to earth. But, I did. I did because I was terrified, but I sucked it up. I saw everyone around me so excited for these events, so I decided to throw away my nerves and be excited, too. I know now, I can do anything I put my mind to, and I can so it with a smile on my face.

My ultimate life goal is to be happy. Just genuinely, truly, and utterly happy. On this trip, I felt that happiness. Happiness without constraints. The joy wasn’t just from being in Australia and New Zealand, it was from discovering that life is what you make it. Who says I can’t be friends with people who make me laugh until my ribs ache? Who says I have to sit at a desk and work before I can enjoy life for what it is? Who says I can’t seek adrenaline on a random Tuesday afternoon. Basically, my transformation was from someone constantly waiting for life to bring her a smile into someone who will actively seek out that joy every single day. Life is wasted if you spend it dreaming of the “what ifs.” Now, I’m going to turns those dreams into reality.



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