Episode 5 │Serve the World (KENYA/IRELAND/UK)
Updated: May 4
"If you're not happy with your own life, then nothing materialistic will ever make you happy. That was something I had to experience somewhere else, or else I never would've known that." (Kristianna, Episode 5)
I met Kristianna Bell during the summer before 8th grade at a fine arts camp in Michigan. I was homesick and was ready to bail, but somehow I was able to stick it out, and I honestly think that meeting Kristi played a major part in that. She was there for choir and band, I was there for band, and she was one of the few people who spoke to me in an elective drama class that we both happened to be taking. From that summer continued a friendship that was sustained first by letters, then emails, and now texting and social media. Kristi's a singer-songwriter now and I recently drove to Ann Arbor to see one of her performances. She was gracious enough to accept my invitation to be on this show when I mentioned it to her afterward.
Kristi started traveling internationally in high school by participating in mission trips that were organized by her church. She went first to Bulgaria, and on another occasion she went to Costa Rica, but she had the most to say about her trip to Kenya, which she remembers the most fondly. While working everyday to assist a school in the town of Meru, she met fellow teenagers there whom she still considers to be dear friends to this day. Meru is right on the equator, and despite the oppressive heat she made sure to appreciate seeing local wildlife everyday (including elephants!), connecting with warm and beautiful people, and having the opportunity to experience the Motherland for the first time.
"Everything is for a reason, and everything serves a purpose."
Later on as an undergraduate student at Eastern Michigan University, Kristi went abroad again to study art in Dublin and London, which also included an excursion to Northern Island and briefly passing through Wales on the way to London. In addition to visiting museums and historical sites, she enjoyed taking in the natural beauty of Ireland and the homey feeling that Dublin gave her, plus she was able to see a play in London's West End and have a couple fandom moments when visiting shooting locations for 'Game of Thrones' (Northern Ireland) and for one of The Spice Girls' most popular music videos (London). Through both service and study, Kristi's travels have taught her to remember that there's more to life than possessions, and to always value people no matter who they are. Kristi can be found on Instagram (@k_ristianna), and on SoundCloud (Kristianna) and all other music streaming services.
Be sure to listen to this episode, "Serve the World (KENYA/IRELAND/UK)" for more! And don't forget to check out the resource list below!
Danielle G. is the creator, host, and producer of Young, Gifted and Abroad. You can find her other writings at DeelaSees.com.