14 Youth + Elephants = an Amazing January

About 2 weeks ago I returned from a Youth Ambassador trip to Thailand. And now I can’t help but daydream about being back there with that amazing group of women.

As a thank you for the incredible week these amazing women gave the entire Youth Ambassador Program, I would like to take a moment to brag about each of them.

Edwina “Cucu” Crane12662723_917968124984896_6650489999594402697_n

Eddie you truly are cool as a cucumber. You are wise beyond your age and you make me feel like I need to get my stuff together! I loved having you on this trip. Even when you were feeling ill, you still manage to push through and take advantage of every opportunity. Eddie I want to thank you for being a great team player throughout the entire trip. Your attitude helped inspired other people when they were feeling down and I’m really proud of you for that.

 

Laura “Brunch” El Hassan12654337_877739959008581_7429352443324238870_n

Miss Laura you are incredible. I loved having you around and being able to learn more about you. You are an incredibly strong woman and you excel in intelligence, empathy, and friendship. I can’t wait to work with you more in the future and I know your future is going to be something amazing. I want to thank you for being such a key (and last minute) addition to this trip.

 

Taylah “Cheek Bones” Kinsey12647362_1203889409638737_2017776856011354472_n

Taylah you owned every challenge we presented to you and you went straight in for the kill. You kept an entire group of people laughing for 7 days straight and it’s not just because you are a terrible liar :) Taylah you remind me of a much cooler version of my younger self and you were so much fun to hang out with! I can’t wait to see you again and hear about all the amazing things you been up to.

 

Juhaina “J-Heezy” Mascarenhas12640482_1097359756975194_7840176718565634645_o

J-Heezy, you have an incredible heart. Your energy was always so high and you never lost the smile from your face. I found myself smiling simply because you were. I want to thank you for always believing in this program and going after it through your process. I know you worked so hard to make it on this trip and you definitely took advantage of your experience.

 

Sasha “Fierce” Danswan10352568_817234458421791_1032048817949753284_n

Sasha Fierce even though your mom was  worried about you traveling, you didn’t show one moment of being nervous. You came in and instantly made friends. You fully committed to this experience and you made us all have a lot more fun because of it. I want to thank you for having such an incredible spirit :)

 

Kenyah “Big Guns” Lawler12631295_1015065505232105_3956193788068769220_n

Kenyah you ask the most amazing questions. I love how you are always so aware of what is going on and you want to know more. You pushed me to go deeper and I think your desire to know more is one of your greatest strengths and will allow you to continue to grow. Keep asking those questions and keep challenging the things you see around you.

 

Jess ‘Perk” Perkins12509156_10205739038850907_8863124290315340166_n

Jess I know you had a rough start to your trip. Losing your baggage isn’t easy and it’s even harder when you are half way around the world with a group of complete strangers. But you handled it with dignity and fought through some very tough moments. I want to thank you for your courage of staying with it and believing in this trip and your fellow leaders. They all wanted to be there for you and were right there with you throughout all your struggles.

 

Chenyang “Glamour Shots” Zhao12592339_1064508686923510_728516107437719443_n

Chenyang you truly are glamour shots. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone take such good pictures while they are dirty and sweaty cutting bamboo! You even became royalty for a little while as you walking your TWO elephants to the river! I think your ability to take such incredible pictures reflects your amazing personality. You brighten every room you walk into and make person feel comfortable :)

 

Lizzy “Leapin Lizards” Spartels-Gill12631398_10207342232206425_5714678412351049417_n

Lizzy you are crazy, but in the best kind of way! I love your energy and how you bring it into everything you do. You inspire me to be more true to who I am and it’s unbelievable that you can do that at such a young age. I want to thank you for being a great partner in crime and always, always making me laugh. I think the next time we meet you will be in some random part of the world doing some crazy awesome job :)

 

Tamanna “T-Money” Qarar12549128_1652972244954500_8723734368894769701_n

Tamanna is incredible for many reasons. She speaks English perfectly even though it is her third language. She was courageous enough to move to Australia away from her parents in Afghanistan so that she had increased opportunities. Tamanna is an observer and whenever I looked at her she was staring at the scenery and taking in every moment of Thai culture. I wouldn’t be surprised if she noticed things no one in the group did. I want to thank Tamanna for her courage. You always push yourself into new and uncomfortable situations and your bravery in challenging times pushes everyone around you to be better.

 

Madison “Magic Mad$” Hemy12670088_1745526709001899_5409083446264369849_n

Magic Mads!! Apart from accidently yelling bomb in the airport 3 times on our return home, you were such a superstar on this trip. The youngest person, but you never showed it. You even hopped on top of a huge elephant to go bathing in the river! I want to thank you for always having my back in mafia and for embracing this experience as fully as you did. You really made it special :)

 

Nina “Hollywood” Harris12473617_1176343282395559_5712069273142515092_o

Nina you are a basically a Thai celebrity now. The second day you were chatting with movie stars and a past Miss Thailand! Then you made friends with every child in our village and helped organize a mass play session with the school kids. I’m so happy you came on this trip and took advantage of all the amazing ‘secret’ talents you have. You added so much to the experience and I want to thank you for that.

 

Chloe “Schlo” Connolly12540801_893603680760571_737826370398941979_n

Chloe, I want to first apologize for you nickname because I don’t get it at all! Chloe you amaze me at how mature you are for someone so young. I would feel comfortable if you were the one leading me through a foreign country and I had to do what you said. You’re an incredibly strong person and you really pushed through your stomach bug and never let it ruin your experience. I want to thank you for being so mature about everything that happened to you.

 

Krystal “Brains” Wright12642675_1066029560095093_4162839233388660442_n

Krystal is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. Somehow at the age of 16 she is a professional juggler, running her local government, and an aspiring brain surgeon. This girl is incredible in the energy she brings to every moment of the day and the massive heart she has for others. Any chance she could help out she did and never once complained. I want to thank Krystal for her incredible compassion and her heart for service.

 

Lauren “Shorts” Beaufils12640330_10207484320099765_780680589996961727_o

Lauren has an incredible talent for amazing dance moves and very glamorous nightgowns. When we asked Lauren to help lead this trip we already knew she was incredible with young leaders, but she was our rock this week. Whenever I felt my energy dipping Lauren was there to win a couple cards game or show the girls how bartering is properly done. I want to thank Lauren for being a great leader and friend. I loved having you on this trip and I can’t wait to work with you more this year.

 

Caitie “Bang” Goddard12631301_899418120179127_3410162915393922064_n

Caitie may be the oldest of the group, but she’s kid at heart. This woman can hold her own against any young person and live to tell the tale. She is also one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. You’ll never see her veer away from hard conversations and she’s not afraid to speak up when she sees or hears something offensive. Caitie could be successful in so many different areas, so I am lucky to be able to work alongside her in this program. She inspires me daily to be more and I thank her for that. Caitie you are an incredible mentor and friend and I can’t wait to continue leading this program with you.

 

 

I’d also like to by thank all the parents, friends, family members, and support systems that stood behind this group of talented women from the start of their journey. This trip wouldn't be possible without your relentless support. We know you took a risk and we hope the reward was everything you expected and more.

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Click here to apply for the GVN Foundation Youth Ambassador Program