Sunday, March 09, 2014

Follow your dreams

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Scuba Diving with the turtle, Koh Tao, Thailand

Words can’t express how proud I am of my brother and former travel leader, Ammon.  In just 34 short years he has accomplished more than most do in a lifetime. As a small child Ammon could read before most could even count. Wow, right? But no. Being born with such talents and gifts can also be a burden. Because Ammon was quickly boosted ahead in his school, he was often bullied for being the youngest and smartest. Despite the struggles he faced, having to put up with verbal and physical abuse from his peers, he blocked them out and continued to succeed. By the ripe age of 15 he worked full-time as a chef, capable of running his uncle’s restaurant. On his 16th birthday he started his accelerated free fall sky diving course and passed with the least amount of required jumps. Age 18 he graduated from correspondence high school and went on to study bio-chemistry for 7 solid years with a full scholarship, while working as a teaching assistant in Simon Fraser University and tour guiding and driving buses. Consistently at the top of his classes, most would expect certain things from this 25 year old, but just before completing his second degree our family decided to travel the world. Leaving many in shock, he took off and didn’t come back for 7 years! He was often criticised for “running away from responsibilities” and “wasting his brains and degree”. The expectations and pressure that he should “have a job”, “get married”, “start a family”, “have a mortgage”, was the adult version of his bullies come to haunt him. Yet again, Ammon continued on his own path following his dreams. To him, being warmly welcomed by locals and having friends in 128 countries, that will happily welcome him back any day, is worth more than all of that combined.
Feeding the Hyenas, Harar, Ethiopia

In his 7 years abroad he became a dive master and assistant life support technician for deep sea divers, trekked high and low from Mt. Everest to the Dead Sea, ventured over the Khyber pass by armed escort, enjoyed the white sands of The Maldives, explored Sudanese Pyramids, African jungles, diamond fields of Sierra Leone, rode into the Sahara Desert by camelback, challenged Ethiopian hyenas and retraced the steps of ancient Silk Road traders.
Ammon on top of Kala Patthar, Nepal

He returned to Vancouver, Canada with money in the bank, yet little more than dirty shoes and a backpack to his name. Many sat restlessly, wondering how on earth he could possibly re-emerge into society after so long abroad, morphing like a chameleon from country to country.
Some secretly hoped he would fail, proving that only the 9-5 lifestyle can work while others sincerely wished him all the best.
Surviving a stage of uncertainty and doubt, with all eyes on him, he decided to apply and take on one of the most high-stress jobs in the world, Air Traffic Controlling. He should thank Bree, Mom and me for giving him practice with high-stress levels. He was one in three chosen of thousands of people to be accepted into the intense ATC training. After several months of training and extreme pressure, last week Ammon graduated his Air Traffic Control course with flying colors!
In ATC training

Tomorrow he starts his first day of work at Nav Canada. It is sad to see him hang up the backpack for a while, but fortunately, as rumor has it, he has the option of taking an entire paid year off every four years. A seemingly perfect occupation for a man with such a passion for travel.
Proud siblings there for support, Left to right: Skylar, Bree, Savannah, Ammon
Proud siblings there for support, Left to right: Skylar, Bree, Savannah, Ammon
What an unbelievable fairy tale and did I mention he got his young, beautiful princess?  So how did he manage to pull all this off? I thought I told you, he’s a genius!
Siblings in Kabul, Afghanistan

I couldn’t be more proud and happy for my big brother. I’m so excited for him and what the next 7 years will bring. I’m so grateful for how generous the universe has been to him and my entire family. Ammon knew what HE wanted and followed his dreams, not letting other’s jealousy, worries or insecurities hold him back. The risks were his to take and he came out a winner. THAT is the biggest inspiration!
I feel so blessed.
Savannah Grace
Left to right: Skylar, Mom, Dad, Savannah, Breanna, Ammon on longest train in the world crossing the Sahara Desert, Mauritania


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