An update from Rilee, a senior CCPA major:

I have been in Taos, NM for 24 days, and I think it would be irresponsible of me not to document what I have gained from this experience.

If I were to give advice to someone who only knows their immediate surroundings and never leaves what they know, please break that cycle. Do not live in fear of the unknown or unfamiliar – there is too much that the world has to offer you.

As far as Dallas goes, do not get sucked into the money and the industrial society; though I know it is easy to do. Coming from suburbs, lights, and cars, it is so easy to make that your world. It is not bad to live in the city, actually, it is quite helpful when striving to induce change. You have resources, money, and attention in the cities, more attention than the attention given here. Use that to make a change for humanity.

I may sound like a dream chaser, but I believe it is better to chase dreams than nothing at all. Find your passion, whether it be art, the ocean, the land, people, or animals; make it better. Use the talent and the gifts God has given you; impact a life.

Do not forget that there is a world outside of your own. Not everyone has it easy; in fact, most people have it hard. I have seen such struggle here, but all the while, I have seen beautiful spirits and lights that shine from within, much brighter than the city lights of Dallas.

As far as leaving loved ones behind, what can I say – this was the hardest thing I have done in my entire life. However, I am alive and I am writing this. I am stronger in my faith, and I have a deeper appreciation for love, friends, and family. This time apart is quite remarkable. It made me realize what is important and to not take people, things, and situations for granted.

I see a struggle for so many things here, and for most, it is a lifelong struggle. For me, my personal struggle is only temporary. I have a set of warm arms to go home to – a job, friends, and a roof over my head. I suppose what I am getting at is be thankful. Be thankful for everything you have in your life and count your blessings. However, in the same token, do not underestimate how strong you are inside and how you can make a difference. Also, do what makes you happy and follow your dreams.