In this great big world we live in, the ocean is not something that divides us – it connects us.
The passion for exploring new countries and connecting with people from all walks of life is something that offers perspective in a world that can often feel fractured. We partnered with the Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand to tell the stories of three of their cruisers (watch the video, above), each of whom had a transformative experience traveling the world by ship, which not only shifted their perspective but also influenced their life’s work.
Alongsidedness is an exchange. You’re getting something out of the experience as much as you’re giving something to the experience, and to the person.
STEM teacher Marie Wicks was initially drawn to take a socially-responsible cruise for work, but by the time her first Fathom trip was over, she’d already booked another one to return with her husband so they could experience the power of purpose-driven travel together.
In talking about her travels to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, where she helped teach students math, science and English, Marie had one word she kept saying that really makes the power of building communities through travel more evident: Alongsidedness.
“Alongsidedness is an exchange. You’re getting something out of the experience as much as you’re giving something to the experience, and to the person. The smiles and the laughter that we heard from the children… it still resonates in my mind and in my heart. When they discover that they can say an entire sentence in English, their face lights up. And then they realize that I can now say an entire phrase in Spanish and their face lights up again, and my face lights up too. That alongsidedness means that you’re equal. You’re giving and taking from each other in a balanced way.”
For social entrepreneur Reginald Canal, travel and experiencing different cultures has propelled him through several major life changes. Born in Haiti, Reggie moved to the U.S. when he was five years old, traveling back when he could, but with a very keen awareness of how different his life could’ve been, even at that young age.
He traveled abroad throughout high school and college, and then stumbled into a career in international banking, mostly because of his worldly perspective and the fact that he could speak another language. It wasn’t until the Haiti earthquake in 2010 that he was compelled to go back with a new mission: To help the people of Haiti rebuild, not just their homes and schools, but their lives. Reggie chose to leave his stable corporate career – one that offered him a standard two weeks of vacation time a year – to focus on Haiti full-time, educating the Haitian people about how to market and sell their unique goods and wares in a more meaningful way.
“I’m passionate about diversity and inclusion, but it’s an area that’s not really understood in the Caribbean,” Reggie says, explaining one of the important lessons he teaches the Haitian small business owners he works with. “We know it very well in the States, but I had to get people there to understand the reason that you’re different makes you special, and to realize that people here are looking for special things versus more of the same.”
When Reggie went looking for his own special thing, to go beyond what his former two-week vacation limit would allow, he stumbled upon Fathom. On his cruise to the Dominican Republic, he took the time to not only meet the people there and hear their stories, but also to reset his own busy pace, journaling, meditating and planning for what was next.
For travel professional Javier, his time aboard Fathom was the energizing catalyst he needed to start his own business with a focus on social impact tourism.
“Growing up in the inner city, it was a struggle for the family,” Javier says. “We constantly moved, the day to day was just trying to get by and this really put a strain on us because it was really hard to think further out. It was just living for the now and not really planning for the future.”
When he chose to travel to Mexico at 17 to visit extended family, he hit a turning point: Seeing how people were living there made him realize how much opportunity he actually had in the U.S. He became the first in his family to graduate high school, and the first to graduate college, then he vowed to try to give other travelers the kinds of eye-opening experiences he had personally had.
Whether you’re looking for how to spend your two weeks of vacation or looking to do something more with your life, the power of travel cannot be denied.
All Photos by Ari Weiss