First Fastest Youngest

First Fastest Youngest

On February 2, Cassandra De Pecol entered Yemen, becoming the first documented woman to travel to every country in the world. This record-breaking journey, called Expedition 196, took her just over 18 months to complete. While she also became the youngest American to travel to every sovereign nation, as well as the fastest person by finishing in the shortest amount of time, her expedition was designed to accomplish much more. “Expedition 196 is a mission to promote positive peace through sustainable tourism, educating the millennial generation while also positively influencing young women around the world to further their potential,” the 27-year-old said in an email. Cassie’s passion for international travel began when she traveled to Costa Rica for her university’s global studies program. There, she had her first experiences living among locals and studying environmental and political issues in those areas. “Going to college my first year in Costa Rica really influenced my decision to just see every country, but I had never traveled outside of the country besides Canada before then,” Cassie said. By the time she was 21, Cassie had saved $2,000 through babysitting and lifeguarding so that she could travel to Europe with her brother Jason. After spending a month exploring Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland, Cassie decided to stick around instead of returning home. During the next two years, she traveled to 25 countries. She couch-surfed and even slept in train stations, eating as little as possible so that she could put her money toward more experiences. “It was here that I really traveled off the beaten path,” Cassie said. “[I] lived in eight different countries...

Helping Haiti

In Haiti, a 6-year-old orphaned girl named Jenika dreams of becoming a doctor. Ken Agle, founder of the public charity Pathways to English, met her a year ago when she first entered the Corner of Heaven Orphanage in St. Marc. When he talks to her he “believes everything she says because she has integrity.” Ken remarks, “If you asked me a year ago if it was possible for an orphan to ever become a doctor, I would have said no . . . now she has a great chance.” The first time that Ken went to Haiti was 1983–1984 for a volunteer opportunity. The people impressed him so much that he continued to go back to visit. He saw a great need for education there, and he didn’t know how to solve it until 2014, when he realized that if the children “had English then they could definitely get better jobs” to move out of poverty. In 2015, Ken sent his son, Davis Agle, to Haiti to see how Davis would withstand the country. Ken remarks, “He didn’t know anything about Haiti, and if Davis can make it, then that might be good to allow [volunteer] college students to go.” While Davis was in Haiti, Ken learned about the International Language Program (ILP), a program that brings volunteer college students to teach English to the less fortunate. Because of the International Language Program, Jenika would be given what she really wanted—an opportunity to learn. In April 2017, ILP created a new humanitarian project for volunteers to teach English in Haiti. According to a 2013 Harvard Business Review, countries with...
Vertical Road Not Taken

Vertical Road Not Taken

It’s been over one hundred years since Robert Frost inspired the world to take the “road not taken.” Imagine the “road not taken” is an unstable vertical conglomerate rock in a steep canyon, and you have another story altogether. Maple Canyon, one of the United States’ most coveted rock climbing areas, was, at one point, that road less traveled by. The canyon was discovered on a whim; Utah climber Bill Boyle simply pointed to a spot on a map—Maple Canyon—and chose to explore the area with his fellow climber David Knezek. When the pair arrived at the canyon, they didn’t set any routes; they spent the next hour throwing rocks at the wall. “Rock has a certain sound when it’s good,” Knezek said. “It’s a high-pitched ‘ping,’ and when it’s not good, it’s like a drum.” The pair left, uncertain about the canyon’s potential for routes, having heard a number of ‘pings’ but a decent amount of the low drum. They found conglomerate rock, which in essence is pebble-sized to boulder-sized river stone set in cement. Though the rock offered interesting holds, only some of the rock was strong enough to bolt into. But Knezek said it was worth the effort. “Some stuff, as big as a basketball court, is completely upside-down,” Knezek said. “So you can climb a whole route—200 feet—upside-down.” Even relatively easy climbing grades, 5.8 and 5.9, are angled and have overhangs because of the large handholds the canyon offers. The once barely-trodden canyon is now a hot spot for climbers from not only Utah, but around the world. Its walls welcome both novice and the...
Okinawa’s “Miracle Street”

Okinawa’s “Miracle Street”

After the war, Kokusai Dori—also called “Miracle Street”—quickly became a   center of trade, economy, and prosperity that continues to the present day. In the cold, deadly conditions of total war, enemy assets like bridges, roads, and airports must be cut down to ensure victory. The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest in all of World War II. The total number of casualties over two-and-a-half months exceeded the number of combined casualties in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Over 90% of the buildings were destroyed. Indeed, it was the terrible carnage in Okinawa and its surrounding islands that prompted American wartime  leadership to consider an alternative to a traditional invasion of mainland Japan. Fast-forward to the modern day. Okinawa is considered in many ways to be to Japan what Hawaii is to the United States: an isolated island chain with a rich culture, its own unique pride and identity, and a bustling tourism economy. No street exemplifies this better than Kokusai Dori in downtown Naha, the capital city of Okinawa. The name literally translates to “International Street.” Initially it was named for the “Ernie Pyle International Theater” that was built shortly after the end of the war (and the continuation of American occupation), but now it characterizes the international crowd that is drawn to the incredible wealth of food, souvenirs, and cultural events that all can be found on Kokusai Dori. Kokusai Dori is also called “Miracle Street,” as after the war it quickly became a center of trade, economy, and prosperity that continues to the present day. Tug of War Every fall, Naha’s tug-of-war festival kicks off...
Cambodia: Beauty Behind the Tourism

Cambodia: Beauty Behind the Tourism

When you think of the beautiful country of Cambodia, you may picture great and ancient temples, such as Angkor Wat and Baksei Chamkrong. You may picture the beautiful and glamorous hotels and city scenes. But, have you ever seen the culture and the history behind the tourism? Through the eyes of a native, you can get a glimpse of everyday Cambodian culture. Tep Sokhom, a young adult from Battambang province, now a resident of Phnom Penh, shares her experience and love for her native country. Life in the Province Before visiting the United States in 2014, Sokhom would travel to work as a card dealer in a casino in the neighboring country of Thailand. She now works as an assistant English teacher in an international school in Phnom Penh. Sokhom takes her red Honda Wave RSX motorcycle, which she calls a “moto,” to work every day. She describes how dirty her mode of transportation is due to the muddy street puddles from the city’s extremely rainy weather. Because of the excess amount of rain, the house that Tep Sokhom was raised in was built on a structure that was lifted off the ground. All of her family members, as part of their nighttime ritual, would climb through their mosquito nets into bed to avoid being bitten during the night. Young Sokhom grew up without a refrigerator in her home. She, along with many other Cambodian families, went to the market every morning to gather the necessary perishable foods for the day. To this day, to preserve cooked meats and other foods for the next day, Sokhom will usually coat...
Adventures in Salzwelten

Adventures in Salzwelten

What happens when you combine a salt mine, an underground lake, and a mummy? No, I’m not talking about a Harry Potter book or an Indiana Jones film; I’m talking about the Hallstatt Salt Mine. There are many ways to interact with history, from textbooks to museums, but these options do not offer quite the same experience as visiting the oldest salt mine in the world, located in Hallstatt, Austria. The town itself is situated between Hallstätter See and the Dachstein Mountains. From the Beinhaus (Bone House) of painted skulls to the charming, late Gothic homes, this little town will make you feel as if you’ve gone back in time. The salt mines continue this feeling of delving into history by giving travelers the opportunity to travel to the past by exploring the old mines and seeing the devices the miners used. The tour begins with an ascent up the mountain on the Salzbergbahn funicular. The glass walls of the funicular allow for a spectacular panoramic view of Hallstatt, as well as the thrill of traveling up a 1,100 foot mountain by rail at an 80% incline. Enjoy the beauty of Hallstatt from a bird’s-eye view before the journey into the caves of salt. After ascending the mountain, the tour will begin with donning a jumpsuit. This helps travelers to keep warm despite the cool temperatures of the mine and allows for a smooth trip down the miners’ slides—the actual slides that miners used to travel through the mines. Further through the mine, travelers will encounter “The Man in Salt.” According to Salzwelten, the company that provides tours of...