Sitting on a mildly uncomfortable throne in the sky, somewhere between Las Palmas and Amsterdam, I’m thinking.
I don’t mean thinking about the mundane realities of everyday life as I’ve often done lately, but thinking with a capital T. I’m looking for the ultimate answer. What is the meaning of life, and is there any? Why do we live the way we live?
The question seems innocuous at first, but the deeper I delve into it the more damning my answers become. My very existence largely revolves around travel. Exploring new countries, meeting new people, broadening my horizons – perhaps even broadening your horizons through this blog. I like the way that sounds.
But sometimes I wonder if I’m doing this right. Sure, I have hundreds of gigabytes worth of photos with the magical power to make people drop everything and start planning their next holiday. Here I’m standing on a mountain top with the wind in my hair. I’m lying on a beach full of powdery white sand. I’m eating a three-course meal surrounded by palm trees.
Those experiences mean a lot to me and they seem to mean a lot to you as well, otherwise you wouldn’t bother coming here when you have the whole internet at your disposal. But they only show the world from one perspective – as seen through an expensive pair of pink-tinted sunglasses.
What I’m getting at here is this… I’d like to start writing about the truly important matters in the world as well. Education, gender equality, poverty eradication, sustainability, peace and security, the refugee crisis. After all, I didn’t spend the past four years writing academic papers about social injustice and development issues only to turn my back on them. I got my degree in political science to make a difference in the world and there is no point in waiting.
Why am I telling you all this? Because over the next two weeks I will be converting all these thoughts into reality. If I want us to discuss all the big issues society is facing at the moment, I have to witness them first hand and I’m going on a very special journey to do just that!
I’ve teamed up with the European Commission to embark on a whirlwind trip around the world during which I will explore the world for what it is really like for most people. No fancy dinners, no goose feather duvets, no high heels. Just a few ambitious development projects, a camera and the kind of unfiltered honesty you can always expect from me.
You must have had enough metaphors by now, so let me tell you more about the project in plainspeak. This year was dubbed the European Year of Development by the European Commission (#EYD2015 for you social media fiends) – a campaign designed to raise awareness of all the amazing development projects outside of our continent which the EU contributes to.
I’m working with a Dutch production company called 1Camera to film a video explaining what it’s all about and showing the world some of these incredible projects. And since I like a challenge, I’ve set myself a pretty ambitious one. Three continents, five countries, ten days.
I know that amount of time isn’t enough to understand how any given country operates or what makes it the unique place it is. But it will give me an opportunity to get an overview of how these development projects operate, how different they are from one another and how they have benefitted the locals.
We will be visiting projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Philippines, Dominican Republic and Lebanon – I’ll give you more details as we go. During the whole journey I’ll be accompanied by a camerawoman who will document all then ups and downs, and then turn all that footage into a short video to be shared with you all… as well as viewers in cinemas around Europe. No pressuuure…
I honestly couldn’t be more excited to get going and I’m so grateful for this unique opportunity! If you’d like to join me on this once-in-lifetime adventure – which you totally should – you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I will be updating them daily (or whenever WiFi permits) to share snaps from the road using #EYD2015.
When do we start? Today, September 29! Our first stop is Ethiopia so pack some sunscreen and don’t be shy to come along…
What do you think about my upcoming journey? Have you ever heard of the European Year of Development? I’d love to hear all your thoughts before I embark on this crazy eye-opening trip!