Craig Metcalf, yoga and meditation teacher, recently won a scholarship and paid trip from Travelocity. In January, Craig will travel to Thailand as Change Ambassador. We thought you might enjoy learning more about Craig from his “award winning” essay. He was selected out of hundreds of applicants. We are so proud of you Craig!
Travelocity’s Change Ambassadors Program Application: Essay Questions
Tell us about your history of service. Have you ever volunteered in the U.S., abroad, or both? How has travel influenced your desire to give back?
I began volunteering in the mid-1990’s. My early volunteer work consisted of working with HIV/AIDS patients. I volunteered with a local hospital system in the AIDS Care Program, as a companion and supporter for those on their deathbeds. Many of the patients were being shunned by friends and family and had no companionship at all. So, the hospital set up the program in order to provide emotional and mental support during the death process. During that time, I also began volunteering for a local AIDS Hospice. Since then, I’ve been active with several other organizations. I trained as an HIV/AIDS Educator with the American Red Cross. I’ve performed field work and organized events and fundraisers for the South Carolina Equality Coalition, which strives to promote equal rights and fair treatment for all of South Carolina’s residents. Most recently, I went “back to my roots”, so to speak, and began volunteering for hospice again. At this point in my life, I see no greater purpose for being than to be of service to my fellow human beings. This is what gives me true happiness in life; to help others. No one deserves to suffer. In this lifetime, I’ve been given a healthy mind and body. My goal is to use this mind and body for the good of all while I have the opportunity to do so.
What are the needs (environmental, educational, or community) that will be served by this trip? Describe the skills and experience you possess that directly address the needs specified in the question above.
I worked for nearly 4 years with the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Board as a Supervisor for a Community Training Home (CTH). That position involved assisting 3 adult males with physical and mental disabilities. This was a very hands-on position. Responsibilities included: helping the residents bathe, dress and groom; preparing meals and transporting to and from a workshop site; planning social, educational and religious activities; administering medications; being a friend and companion. Working with those individuals was an experience I will always cherish and my involvement with the DSNB gave me a chance to develop many care giving skills which I feel would be of great benefit to those with special needs in Bangkok.
According to Cross Cultural Solutions, healthcare workers in Thailand take a holistic approach to medicine; including healing for body, mind and spirit. They often need assistance for certain therapies and exercises which help promote muscle movement and flexibility. As a Meditation Teacher and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), I will be able to teach restorative yoga techniques to patients, helping them to regain range-of-motion, increased flexibility and more peaceful states of mind. Restorative yoga focuses on gentle stretches, deep breathing and relaxation and meditation techniques. All of these would significantly benefit patients with a variety of diagnoses.
The Change Ambassadors program is looking for people who are passionate about helping others and who want to make a positive difference in the world. What makes you a unique candidate to be a Change Ambassador? Why should you be chosen for this volunteer vacation?
As stated above, for my life, I see no greater purpose than to be of service to others. Through dedication to my spiritual practice, I discovered that all the material wealth in the world will not bring true happiness and inner peace. True peace comes from within; from opening one’s heart and mind to new experience and from the willingness to help those around you. This volunteer vacation would be an excellent opportunity for me to serve others in need, helping me to live out what I consider to be my life’s purpose.
One of the great things about giving from the Heart is that when we help others we also receive. As an American Buddhist, this would also be an extraordinary opportunity for me to spend time in a Buddhist country, gaining a better understanding of their rich culture and colorful traditions. The people of Thailand would, in fact, help me just as much as I would help them, by sharing their way of life. Volunteering with Cross Cultural Solutions would be a perfect win-win experience and I am certain that volunteering in Thailand, in particular, will inspire me to do even greater works both here in the US and elsewhere.