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Alumni Series: Finding Ease in the Unknown by Antonette Liao
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Alumni Series: Finding Ease in the Unknown by Antonette Liao

Rustic Alum, Antonette Liao, shares her most memorable moment from her trip to Thailand! Read all about it right here!

Finding Ease in the Unknown

Traveling usually comes with so many emotions; excitement, disbelief, happiness, anxiety. I was experiencing all of these leading up to my summer trip with Rustic Pathways, especially the anxiety. I’d be staying for the first time at a homestay and I just couldn’t shake the anxiousness swirling in my body. All I could do is breathe, pack my bags, and hope my nerves would settle enough to be able to enjoy and remember what I knew was going to be an amazing trip to Thailand!

I was still feeling pretty nervous when we arrived in Na Nong Bong, the destination of the homestay. Pretty soon I would be meeting the Grandmas of the Radical Grandma Collective. As soon as I met them I felt my worries melt away. Despite the language barrier, their welcoming embraces and warm nature really made me feel that they were happy to have us there. Over the next few days, we spent so much time with the grandmas, heard many of their stories, and gained a better understanding of what the Radical Grandma Collective was fighting for.

One day, the Grandmas, myself, and the 15 other students were sitting down on the bamboo mattress having lunch, chilling, and talking to each other. I looked around and took in every detail. Some were struggling to use a chopstick, food was being switched around so people could try everything, and laughter was everywhere. I thought to myself, how lucky am I to be here, right now, in this moment? I felt such inner content and joy, it was hard to believe that I was ever anxious about being there.

When I think back to the whole trip, almost six months later, it is one of the few moments that I remember so clearly. There were many other meals, the trip was two weeks long, and there were many times throughout the trip where I thought “I’m definitely going to remember this, it’ll be one of the best memories here”. However, those moments become blurry as time passes. Maybe I remember this one so clearly because of those feelings associated when it crosses my mind. That chuckle at the idea of anxiety, and the ease found in such a simple moment. An ease that returns to me often now.

It’s interesting what becomes your most memorable moment whenever you travel. I was expecting mine to be one of the several amazing things we got to do. Instead, it was the simplest one. The one with organic human connection. Most importantly though, the one that taught me that the unknown is something to embrace because you’ll find something there.

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