Thursday, October 06, 2005

My name is Megan Smith and I am a senior in high school up in Northern California. I have a physical disability where i use an electric wheelchair for the most part, i can walk in a walker but it's difficult. Technically, i'm classified as having CP, but it's my belief the doctors didn't know what was going on and CP is the most general label. But anyway, at this point in my incredibly drawn out process of planning, I hope to travel to either Vietnam or Thailand at the beginning of January.
I have always had a passion for traveling and developed what i call a love affair with the world. For the past four years i have tried to organize several overseas trips through various organizations, all of which has fallen through. Luckily, this last summer i was able to travel to France and England with the program People to People. It was a wonderful experience and it has helped me redefine what i want when i am traveling. Traveling with 50 other high school students is not one of them! But the sights were incredible! Just as a forewarning to any wheelchair travelers going to Versialle, France, those cobblestones are a killer!! Though there is one place in which every person needs to visit when in England, whether you are disabled or not, and this is The United Kingdom Sailing Acadamy. This acadamy took me sailing, kayaking and windsurfing, with all of the accomidations i needed. They even assigned a private trainer to me.
But this trip helped me realize that i really don't want to just travel to the tourist spots, i want to actually live in the culture and offer any service i can to the community i am living with. This is why i am going to Vietnam and Thailand as a volunteer instead of a random tourist. I hope to stay for three to six months so that i will have the opprotunity to at least explore the culture partially.
In my Northern California community i have been active in many of the disablity activist organizations, for both the physically and developmentally disabled. Another hope for my volunteering is to develop an international respect and understanding of the whole spectrum of disabilities. Hopefully my knowledge of American disability rights and activism can influence programs overseas.
Well with all luck and hope my plans will progress!

Meg Smith