The Sabbatical

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

Carl Rogers

There was a morning in 2002 when I woke up with a bold idea– I needed to take a sabbatical to Africa.

It didn’t feel like a decision to make, but a decision that had been made. Figuring out the details was now my assigned task.

Over several weeks, I researched, planned and put together a proposal for my boss. I sought to minimize the intrusiveness to my colleagues and clients, while emphasizing the advantages.

He said yes. And in November 2002, I flew to Ghana to start a 7-week, 5-country African adventure.

Travel Journal. Woe, Ghana, Nov. 25, 2002

That trip blended my favorite ingredients– personal immersion and learning, active adventure, and culinary exploration; it combined solo travel, a group experience, and meet-ups with friends from the U.S.

Did I plan the sabbatical this way because this is how I travel?

Or do I travel this way today because of this sabbatical?

I’m not sure.

But I do know that this trip changed me. It challenged and humbled me. Each day there were little experiences that made me think differently about something.

Travel Journal. Woe, Ghana, Dec. 4, 2002

The trip even impacted my life path. My passions for investing in companies in emerging economies, for educating girls, and for promoting women’s leadership were inspired by these early experiences.

Global experiences change your perspective.

There is nothing I feel more strongly about.

Travel Journal. Farmers Day Celebration in rural Ghana, Dec. 6, 2002

My travel experiences continued to evolve. Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro on that first trip to Africa increased my confidence for future high-altitude trekking. Immersion trips with my favorite non-profits have helped me better understand education. I’ve joined fellow investors on company due diligence trips–eating cat food at a pet supply company in Japan and touring a meat processing facility in Ethiopia. I travel solo, and with my husband. With an ever-growing network of friends around the world, when I verbally sketch out a trip, it’s not uncommon for one of them to say “Sounds awesome. Can I come?” I typically say yes.

With these experiences part of my story, last year I woke up with another bold idea– to lead Venture Travel as a means of bringing life-changing experiences to others.

I write this having just completed the inaugural trip. It was everything I had hoped.

Our group of 10 spent six days in Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar, Tanzania, seeking to understand the economic and social trajectory of a young, dynamic country. We met with business leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, students, and non-profits. Unique culinary experiences helped us understand culture and history.

Every day seemed to best the prior. Hearing about Uber Tanzania‘s launch challenged our thinking. Meeting with USAID Tanzania reminded us how we as U.S. citizens are responsible for the U.S. brand. And of course, spending an entire morning at a rural primary school with Room to Read left us inspired, grateful, and howling in joy.

Our group has since dispersed. Some participants went on safari; some are still battling jet lag as they return to work in the U.S.

As for me, I’m spending a few days resting on the East Coast of Zanzibar. But I’m not alone. I brought a long-lost friend–my travel journal from 2002.

I wanted to revisit my earlier reactions to new situations. To see how I initially wrote about memories I’ve described hundreds of times. To see if I left clues as to how I wanted my life to unfold from that point forward.

I left a lot of clues.

Global experiences have changed many of my perspectives. They evolved my investment career. They are the thread that weaves my personal and professional relationships.

I read a passage in my 2002 travel journal where I asked my host in Ghana what he thought about people from the U.S.

“You ask so many questions,” he said.

Curiosity. May it always be core to each of our individual and the U.S. brand.


Want to learn more about Venture Travel? What does it look like? Feel like? View this Venture Travel Video and hear directly from participants.


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Jodi Morris Written by:

Venture Guide to High-Achieving Seekers. Success Coach. Venture Travel Curator. Impact Investor. Traveler. Writer. Global Connector. When we connect to others' stories it changes our own. Let's Venture!