A Missed Experience

Jaya Johnson is a rising junior Economics major and Accounting minor at Spelman College. She is currently doing research on how to increase access to pre and post-natal healthcare information to illiterate populations living in areas with high rates of maternal deaths. Jaya also has her own lifestyle blog, becomingjkiere.com.

Wanderlust: a strong desire to travel. I had never been struck with such a desire until this summer. My family has always placed an emphasis on traveling, but ever since my parents ended their two-year stay in China, they wanted to enjoy home. On the other hand, I want to get away. This is the first year in a long time that my feet haven't left Georgia soil.

I decided to stay home this summer to work and focus on growing my business. I did not have a problem with not studying abroad because I was going to present research on a mobile app I developed called MTOTO that will provide pre and post-natal health care information to women living in rural communities with high maternal deaths rates at a conference in Belgium in June. I was super excited about this opportunity, but also nervous because there was a chance I would be going by myself. My research mentor was scheduled to present around the same time in California.

When the time came to purchase plane tickets and reserve my room in Belgium, I found out that my research mentor could no longer go. My mom did not like the idea of me being alone in Belgium so she cancelled the trip. At first I understood her concerns for my safety, but I still felt robbed of a potential life-changing experience (for free!) I tried my best to keep from fantasizing about waking up at the Pentahotel in Brussels, exploring the shops on Avenue Louise, and of course eating an authentic Belgian waffle.

As a child, I understood how fortunate I was to take trips out of the country. I know that those experiences have made me more aware of what is going on around the world. However, it's different to travel as a student in college. This is the time to figure out one's purpose and make life-changing decisions. I can’t say what effect this trip would have had on me. Maybe I would have come back a little more confident and fearless after an independent trip abroad. I missed out on the chance to see a country through my own eyes. This was my chance to not be led by my parents or a tourist guide, but to navigate my own adventure.

I’ve come to learn that the desire to travel is innate in all people. We are not meant to stay in one place. Jesus even tells us to “Go out into the world!” This disappointment has ignited the desire to travel within me, and now I am more determined than ever to pursue future global experiences. I am so excited to see where this pursuit leads me.