Since the end of the year is drawing close, now seems like a good time to reflect on 2018. One pretty significant part of my year was going on the HungerU tour. Now that I’ve been back for a few months, here are some reflections on what being a HungerU Ambassador is like.
A few stats:
4 crew members
6 weeks on the road
8 questions on the HungerU Challenge
11 stops on tour
6,700 (approximately) HungerU Challenges taken
Leaving home for two months and travelling with people I’d just met was a big commitment, but I was fresh out of college and looking for excitement, so I leapt at the opportunity. I learned a lot while on tour, and that’s one of the things I valued most about being an ambassador: the opportunities for enriching myself as a person. What excited me most was the chance to travel.
Travelling makes our minds light up; we experience new things every day and have to react to constant new stimuli. Trying new stuff is one of my favorite things--which sometimes leads to fun and sometimes leads to trouble. I’ve learned that impulsivity and serendipity are two sides to the same coin. My time on tour helped me find balance; I was able to temper my desire to explore with conscientious selfcare.
I also jokingly referred to being on exhibit as “Introvert Boot Camp,” but I definitely improved my people skills. After a while of forcing eye contact (which I’m inexplicably bad at) and making myself approach strangers, it got easier. Plus, you develop a pretty thick skin after the tenth rude person, and being ignored or getting a mean comment stops being bothersome.
And of course, stuff went wrong. There were interpersonal challenges, logistical nightmares, inclement weather, long days, and grade schoolers who attacked the t-rex (and the Handley inside). Sometimes it just took gritting my teeth and trekking forward, which I think is important. Determination can be the only thing that powers us through, which is why is so important to cultivate.
I got super sick during the last day of the Future Farmers of America Convention, so I was happy to be on a plane back to MInnesota with Kristen, my crewmate who happened to be from the same city. When my roommate picked me up at the airport, I was excited to sleep for a really long time, but also, I knew I wasn’t the same person who she’d dropped off. I was steadier and calmer, better at direct communication (which, in close quarters, is essential), and I knew more about the farmers that keep our nation fed than I did before I’d left.
I collapsed as soon as I got home--but I gave out some dinos that I’d snagged from the prize table before going to bed. That was another thing I learned on tour: everyone, no matter how old, loves dinosaurs.