According to Philosopher Joseph Campbell, in childhood we are introduced to the enchantment of legends and fairytales—to heroes and villains; to treacherous journeys and untold perils; to strange and exotic lands promising treasures to be claimed; and to venerable sages and sacred kings who guide travelers in their harrowing quests. These tales often involve a “call to adventure” wherein the hero or heroine must take risks, encounter dangers, and endure unimaginable challenges and sacrifices that ultimately lead to personal transformation.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued his own call to adventure with the formation of the Peace Corps. A few months later a teenage boy from Southern Minnesota dairy farm, believing he had the skills, character, and fortitude to meet the president’s calling, applied and was selected for a project in Brazil; one of the youngest volunteers in history. He would be sent to a small, remote village in the vast interior and backlands of Brazil; experiencing the risks, dangers and challenges Campbell speaks of. During his twenty-one month odyssey in Brazil, he would never hear the voices of any family member or friend.
In spite of his youth and these challenges, the life lessons of flexibility, versatility, and adaptability from his rural upbringing and the support of the many wise men he would meet on his journey would favor his success where others failed. Adventure is what he sought and what he found in this journey filled with danger, but treasure as well—in the form of personal enrichment and the discovery of unimaginable people, places, and experiences.
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