I was at a coffee shop working on a college essay in Denver, CO. This dirt covered uncombed young man stumbles in at 11pm. He sits right next to me and starts sharing his experiences walking across the USA w/a local friend. My heart feels as if it’s exploding through my chest. “That’s it,” I thought. After reading A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins, watching Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, and now meeting this on-foot traveler, I would rob my soul if I avoided making the decision to go on my own adventure. Soon after I was sitting in my social entrepreneurship class at my alma mater, Metro State College of Denver, and was challenged by a fellow classmate. She spoke to our class to encourage us in being a part of the change we want to see, even as broke, struggling college students. For as little as $25 and 99% repayment, we could become person-to-person lenders on Kiva.org to entrepreneurs across the globe. Done. On March 1st of 2010 I would set out on a 3,000+ mile walk from the Delaware coast to San Francisco, CA. I married the simplicity of engaging life at 3MPH with everything I need in a backpack to the promotion of what I believed was a very relevant mission in empowering unique global communities.
This walk has changed my life. Thousands of people, hundreds of small towns, and a very rich 8-month lesson in nature’s classroom left me full of questions, passion, and hope in a collective to help one another and ultimately find peace and joy in the midst of trials and challenges. Promoting Kiva.org was a beautiful fit as it carries a mission that allowed me to meet the “small business struggle” right where it stands. Conversations went to great lengths and people walked away inspired and hopeful. Recycling $25 to help a neighbor down the street or across oceans is a very receptive model, regardless of political/religious affiliation. Kiva.org also has a great program allowing anyone to create a “lending team.” We created our “Kiva Walk Lending Team” in September of 2009 and have generated just over $417,000 in loans to entrepreneurs across the globe up to this point.
Words escape me when trying to summarize the depth of this experience. We live in such a beautiful place. There is wealth of color and charm out there when you stop to listen for it. I have learned that breaking through personal fear, penetrating social barriers, slowing down and trusting the stranger have shaped me to think more freely and stand hopeful toward our future. Our culture didn’t understand my decision and/or interruption to take on this journey; however, I feel that ALL who were a part of it are better for it. I am forever grateful to everyone who walked, supported and welcomed us as we moved on-foot across the USA.