For as long as I can remember, I have always strived to make each day count. I am not a sit-on-the-couch kind of girl, I’m a get-up-and-get-out-there kind of girl. I love to see the world. I love to explore new places, or even go to familiar places but with a fresh set of eyes. When I travel, I apply this same mantra of “live each day to the fullest” as I make my way around the world.
The first time I lived outside of Michigan, it was for one summer working as an intern in Dallas, Texas. There, I embraced another one of my mantras, which is to “be a traveler, not a tourist“. While in Texas, I got to know a lot about Dallas and the surrounding areas, and when I wasn’t working, I was immersing myself in the Texas culture.
A while back, I was going through boxes of old things, and I came across a speech I had written for a Toastmasters group I participated in while living in Dallas. Toastmasters is a group which helps people improve their public speaking skills in a fun and safe environment, and the group is always looking to reach potential new members. At the end of the summer, the interns in Toastmasters decided to put on an event for other co-workers to come and see if they may potentially want to join the group…Below is my speech for the event, and although some parts are kind of silly out of context, it still reminds us all to live life to the fullest, and embrace life as travelers, not a tourists.
“Be a Traveler, Not a Tourist”
Holly Haveman, Summer 2009
When I first found out I was going to be interning in Texas, I didn’t know what to expect. A scorching summer and a whole bunch of cowboys were the first things that came to mind. Whatever it was, I knew I was going to make the most of it.
I knew I wanted to positively impact my work environment, to meet new people, explore new places, and learn as much as I could about everything in the process. In a nutshell, I knew I wanted to live each day to the fullest.
I got a letter from my friend in the mail the other day, and in it was a bottle cap. Now, it wasn’t a Snapple cap, but I know you still would have liked it, Mr. Christopher Rose.
On the inside of the cap were words of wisdom, and they said, “Be a Traveler, not a Tourist.” I immediately knew I liked what this cap was telling me.
I started thinking about my time here in Texas, and I realized that quote perfectly described how I lived my summer, as a traveler, not a tourist.
Travelers must immerse themselves in their surroundings, get out of their traditional comfort zone, and see what the world has to offer.
I have learned to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, and to seek out things that don’t necessarily find you on their own.
As a traveler I was able to do so many amazing things this summer. Throughout the summer, I actively sought to find local events that were happening, and jumped on any opportunity to experience something new. I have been told many times that I have seen and done more in Texas than some people who have lived here their whole lives.
This summer I have done things I never would have imagined doing… I watched an Indy race, shot a gun…in fact, I shot more than one gun! I rode a bull…just kidding! but I did watch bull riding, and I did ride a dirt bike through the desert all on my own!
I helped build a house, and I’ve eaten down-home cookin’ like fried okra and chicken fried steak- which I didn’t even know existed until I came here… I also learned how to country western dance, as well as dance like a flapper in the ’20s.
I fed a donkey, and a zebra, and a cow…I killed a cockroach outside of my hotel…I mean, I am really impressing myself with this list!
Now, before this summer, I had never worked in a “corporate” setting, so coming here was a huge step outside of my “comfort zone”. Through my first project, I met many people in different departments and positions. Every worker has something to contribute, and I tried to take away what I could from each person I came across.
Toastmasters was a big help in easing me into the corporate workplace because it helped break up my day and it introduced me to all you fine people! I am sitting in a room full of intelligent and creative minds, and I am extremely glad I was able to be part of this group.
When we first started Toastmasters, many of us were unaware of our Um’s, Er’s, Ya Know’s and so on. We didn’t know that a “broken arm” didn’t necessarily need a sling or cast, that the “fig leaf” wasn’t only found on trees or Greek statues, and that badges could serve as distracting play tools.
We quickly learned from the rattle of the posturologist, and eventually even started making up our own names for distracting things like, “playing the bongos”, “the hugger”, and “scoliosis”.
Toastmasters has been a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn from each other, while at the same time learning about each other. I’ve absolutely seem improvements in all of our public speaking skills, and I know we consciously take what we learn from Toastmasters and apply it to our everyday lives.
This whole summer has been a learning experience, and that was what I was hoping for. I met new people, made new friends, explored my surroundings, and I found out there is more to Texas than cowboys and extreme heat.
I want to end this speech by reminding you all to live each day to the fullest! Go into everything with an open mind and a fresh set of eyes, and strive to do your best. Tasks may seem daunting and some jobs may seem unconquerable, but give everything a fair shot and I know you will surprise yourself.
I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to speak to you today, and to meet and learn from you this summer. I can now add this summer spent in Texas to the list of things I’ve done as a traveler, not a tourist.