Monday, June 13, 2011

Just a little back story

Exactly two years ago I was on an airplane heading back to the United States from the trip of a lifetime to South Africa. That day I experienced multiple hours of daylight as we kept hitting different time zones; that was only one of the incredible things I witnessed on that trip. I was sixteen years old at the time. I was from a town with a population of 268 and had never flown on an airplane. At that time I thought I never would. My whole life I was trapped in a bubble, the only part of the world I thought I would know about is what I would read about in text books. My teacher, Karen Wells, won a trip to South Africa and four students could travel with her for free. I had tried to go to Africa twice previously on mission trips but because of family health and financial obstacles I couldn't go. I thought that there was no way that I had another chance and that it would be free at that. I gave it a shot though and after I wrote an essay on why I would like to go and went through an intensive interview process I was one of the lucky ones selected to go to South Africa. June 2nd we ventured out into the wild, literally. After shark cage diving, learning about apartheid, and playing with baby cheetahs I gained more than just what was on the itinerary. When we started the next school year Mrs. Wells, Meagan Martin (a fellow traveler), and I started up a food pantry at our school due to seeing a woman named Rosie feed around 200 kids a day. We wanted to make a difference as well, but knew we had to take care of our community first. This year I started up a food drive where we were able to feed seventeen families through the winter months. I also made a great friend who traveled with us from Dallas named Abby. The year after we went to South Africa, Meagan and I flew by ourselves to Abby's over spring break to see what her lifestyle was like. Then last Friday Meagan got married and Abby and her mom came up for the wedding. Meagan and I went from never thinking we would fly, to flying by ourselves to see a good friend we met along the way. South Africa taught me that nothing is out of my reach. I have accomplished so many things just because of that one unforgettable trip. In three days I will be on another Discovery trip to Italy and Greece. Two years ago I never would have thought that I would have traveled to six different countries by the time I was eighteen. South Africa changed my life and I cannot wait to see what I can take from this trip and apply it to my life. My dreams are becoming my reality. I am truly blessed.

-Niki Pulliam


  1. Niki, thank you SO much for sharing this story. This means so much to us! We can't wait to hear about your travels to Italy and Greece.

    All the best,
    Amy S., Discovery Student Adventures

  2. Thanks Niki! S. Africa was great and I can't wait to meet the new Midland High group. See you in Athens.

    Anson Lee
    Discovery Student Adventures

  3. Nicely said, Niki. Thursday when we leave for another travel adventure, I will also be reflecting on previous travel experiences. My wish is that we grow as much from this trip as we did from South Africa. See you at the MHS library at 7:30 a.m. sharp! Love ya, Karen Wells

  4. You are so wonderful, Niki! I love you so much and I feel honored to be mentioned! I had a great time with you last weekend!

    I am so excited to hear all about the brand new adventures you are about to embark on. I can't wait to live vicariously through you! I'll be thinking about you all while you are gone.

    Have an amazing time and be safe!

  5. Niki, You are the reason I LOVE my job. Thanks for sharing...I look forward to "seeing&reading" of your adventures in Italy (my FAVORITE place in the world) and Greece (on my list of MUST travel to)! Don't forget to toss a coin over your shoulder at the Trevi Fountain, as the legend goes, it assures you will, once again, return to Italy!24hours and counting...
    best,Alix L., Discovery Student Adventures


Adventure Details

Duration 15 days
Destinations Athens
Focus Biology
Earth Science