Without a doubt, and without fear of overstating, the ideas and techniques that I learned from the facilitators at BoldLeaders are the reason why I decided to study abroad as a Rotary exchange student in high school and continue to travel extensively while in college.

Looking back, BoldLeaders didn’t just enable me to have the confidence to travel but gave me the ability to make my travel a positive experience, which has involved overcoming communication barriers, “culture-shock,” a lack of infrastructure and an array of other challenging circumstances. What’s kept me traveling is that fact that I love experiencing new cultures, meeting new people and experiencing new places in the not so traditional, sometimes superficial way. However, if I had not learned to be comfortable with the uncomfortable or how to be “FM” or knowing that there is a universal human language, I would have never been able to get through the tough moments of travel or been able to build the necessary relationships that lead to being able to live in and experience a country in a more authentic way.

Travel is overly romanticized and painted as endless experiences of being taken in like family from the people of the country, endless sunrises and sunsets over exotic and lost in time locations, or non-stop adventure. Although these moments certainly happen, between the most beautiful sunrise that comes up over the Amazon River or eating tamales at sunset—the ones you made from scratch by going out to the corn field—with you friend Lucho in El Salvador, you probably had to navigate your way through 100 other challenges to get there. BoldLeaders give you tools to get through challenges and connect with people, and a mindset that, no matter what happens, allows you’re experience abroad will be a valuable and positive one.