Two Decades of Wanderlust: How a Senior Trip Kindled a Lifelong Love for Travel

By Jessica Parr
SBS Class of 2004

A single journey has the power to ignite a passion that lasts a lifetime. For me, that transformative spark was lit during the Stonebridge senior trip, an experience that not only opened my eyes to the wonders of the world but also instilled in me a profound wanderlust that has guided my life for over two decades.

As a wide-eyed senior, I embarked on a journey that would forever change my life and perspective. From the Netherlands to Slovakia, then off to France, Italy, Germany, and Spain; the unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells of new places awakened something within me—a curiosity and a thirst for exploration that I hadn’t known before. That trip was more than a mere vacation; it was a gateway to a world of endless possibilities.

From that moment on, I made a conscious decision to weave travel into the fabric of my life. Throughout undergraduate school, graduate school, and even as a working adult, I made it a priority to explore different corners of the globe whenever time and circumstances allowed. Each adventure brought its own lessons and revelations; but perhaps the most profound impact of my travels was the way they shaped my understanding of cultures beyond my own.

Each new destination was an opportunity to immerse myself in diverse traditions, languages, and customs. And in doing so, I discovered a universal truth: that despite our differences, there exists a thread of humanity that connects us all–God’s unique creations.

Through these experiences, I learned the immeasurable value of grace and patience. I found myself shedding preconceived notions and learned to approach every encounter with an open heart and mind. Travel taught me the art of listening, of embracing differences, and of withholding judgment. It taught me that assumptions are often misguided and that true understanding comes from empathy and genuine curiosity.

The more I ventured into the world, the more I realized how limited my previous perspectives had been. Travel became a catalyst for personal growth, challenging me to step outside my comfort zone and confront my own biases. With each interaction, I discovered the beauty in diversity and the joy of connecting with people from all walks of life.

As I reflect on this journey that started with a senior trip, I am grateful for the doors it opened and the horizons it broadened. God has used my travels to teach me invaluable lessons that extend far beyond the allure of picturesque landscapes and iconic landmarks. It has taught me the richness of human experience, the beauty of cultural tapestries, the strength found in our shared humanity, and how God made us all so uniquely special and beautiful.

Now, I carry with me not just memories of breathtaking destinations, but a deeper understanding of our global community. The travel bug that was sparked during that senior trip has evolved into a passion for embracing the unknown, for seeking connection amidst diversity, and for living a life colored by the stories and experiences of countless cultures.

In the end, it’s not just the places I’ve visited that have left a permanent mark; it’s the God stops, lessons learned, the friendships forged, and the perspective gained that continue to shape the person I am today—a person forever grateful to Stonebridge, my parents, and donors, for that one trip that ignited a lifelong love affair with the world. 

StoneBridge School is a preschool-12th grade classical Christian school, dedicated to equipping nation changers through a Biblical, Principle Approach® education. View all posts by StoneBridge School

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