She talked a good game. As she entered her final year of college, not a day went by Jessica Suvak didn’t spout off about a different idea for a unique, kitschy, grand adventure she longed to try after graduation.
“I wanted to do something off the wall,” Jessica said. “I looked into different things like riding a bike across the United States. I was all talk. I came up with something new every day.”
But when she heard a group which crafted international outdoor adventures as a route to education and empowerment, she finally stopped talking and started planning.
Jessica will be one of four youth ambassadors to take part in an expedition to Bolivia with the non-profit organization Impossible2Possible. The trip, which runs from May 12-24, will require Jessica to run 250 kilometers — about a marathon a day — across the world’s largest salt flats.
Jessica, a marketing major at Notre Dame College in Ohio, has been a three-sport athlete in volleyball, softball and basketball. She took up running her sophomore year in college and has completed 5Ks, 10Ks and a few triathlons. Now, however, it’s a different level of training.
“We have an awesome training plan from our conditioning coach John Zahab and I’m running pretty much every day,” Jessica said. “I can tell I’m getting better. I ran my first half marathon the other day and I felt pretty confident after that.”
But the trip is not just about the athletic journey. The group uses outdoor adventure as a means of motivation and inspiration along with an educational component. While in Bolivia, Jessica and the three other youth ambassadors, will work with the expedition team on various experiments in conjunction with the International Year of Chemistry. The organization has developed chemistry lessons which any school (or student of life) can use while following the Bolivian expedition. The youth ambassadors will webcast their experiments, write blogs and answer questions throughout the trip. (Oh yes, and run around 26.2 miles each day.)
Those are the details, ones which Jessica has begun to immerse herself in. Seriously, ask her anything about Bolivia. She spends her free time looking up facts and learning bits of info which might just drive her friends and family crazy.
“People are probably getting pretty annoyed with me,” Jessica said with a light laugh. “I keep saying, ‘Did you know this about Bolivia? Did you know that about Bolivia.’ I’m sure a lot of them want to say to me, ‘Please shut up about Bolivia.’ But I’m so thrilled to learn and teach people about it.”
And while the details are interesting, it’s the energy and enthusiasm that Jessica exudes for all aspects of the trip — from the travel to experiments to the running — that is truly inspirational and motivational. The tasks at hand are a bit daunting, whether it’s training to run 250 kilometers in seven days or navigating the expedited passport and visa procedures. It’s big and grand, perhaps a bit scary and certainly outside of her comfort zone.
But Jessica approaches the challenge with a spirit that encourages others to ask what might be possible today. She is excited not just to push herself to new limits, but to share that with others.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to use the web to talk to people around the world and share what we’re learning,” Jessica said. “They can see what it’s like to be running that distance. People can see how it is possible to do things which you never thought you’d be able to do.”
What might be possible today if you let go of the details and let opportunities come to you?