In 2008, after finishing up at UBC, I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I was scared yet excited to see what my next chapter in life was going to look like. I’m sure we’ve all been there one time or another. So, I sat in my room and googled, “volunteering overseas.” The first thing to pop up was Youth Challenge International. I didn’t even think twice and the next thing I knew I was on a flight to Ghana. I had been debating what path I wanted to take in life but after my experience with YCI there was no doubt in my mind. I came back and found myself involved, not only with YCI, but with various organizations while working for an international organization, Operation Eyesight. I’m telling you all this because it’s what led me to Global Agents. When I heard of their cycling tours I instantly was interested. Biking across Europe, Cambodia or down the beautiful Pacific Coast sounded absolutely incredible.
Wait, I’m not a biker I thought to myself – but I didn’t let that stand in my way. My instincts were telling me the same thing as they did when I applied to YCI. Next thing I knew I was filling out an application to ride down the Pacific Coast and not only as a rider but as a ride leader. I wanted to challenge myself in a whole new way. This was not only for a good cause, a unique way to travel, but a way to challenge myself mentally and physically.
Few months after I applied I spent most of time planning with my co-leader and managing the team. I have some background in team management so this part came easy to me. Leading up to the ride, I wasn’t nervous. I was working long hours and had so many different volunteer projects that I was working on, that the next five months flew by. The most challenging part of the planning process was not being able to connect with the team as often as I wanted to. Not everyone was in the same city and with different schedules it made hard to get together. Overall, I think we did a pretty good job communicating with the team and getting things done. Team management isn’t an easy skill to master so I am grateful to have had that opportunity.
So, the day of the ride came. I was all geared up and had my personal belongings all packed up on my bike. I thought that I didn’t bring enough, but compared to the rest of the team I brought too much! It only took a week in to the ride and I had given away half of my belongings. Word of advice, bring next to nothing!
I’m not going to go in to every detail of the ride but I do want to tell you how the ride changed my life.
My best friend decided to join me on the ride. We were both novice bikers and because of our busy schedules we didn’t have the time to train a whole lot, which is okay, your body gets used to it in no time. The weather was not on our side that year. The year before the tour had sunshine all the way down, but the stormy clouds decided to pay us a visit for the first 13 days. Every day was different. One day in particular sticks in my mind. It was one of the stormiest days Oregon had seen in years. We had experienced some tire flats in the morning and had some other delays, which put us a little behind that day. Kathryn, my friend and I, sent the rest of the team ahead of us. Five minutes after our group left, we got another flat. We sat at the edge of the road, dripping wet from the rain and we just looked at eachother and burst out laughing. We knew one day we’d look back at this experience and laugh about it. We got out our bike tools and fixed my tire and we were on our way. No rain or flats could get in our way.
It was days like that, that made me stronger. It was as if nothing could stand in the way of me making it to our final destination. This feeling has been with me ever since. Any fears I had in pursuing my goals no longer were there. It’s an amazing feeling.
I now work for Global Agents. I believe in the rides so much that I spend my time talking to young people because I don’t want them to miss the chance to feel what I felt. The experience overall, being in a team environment, the traveling, the challenges, and the bonding time with your team on the road will stay with you for life. Those that were on the road with you will be long lasting friends.
-Pamy Teja, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2008