I've been really busy moving out of my apartment and finalizing some stuff for my trip for the last week or so, but in the last few days, I've been thinking a lot about the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It's unbelievable how many people are suffering as a result of this disaster. Thousands are dead and hundreds of thousands are homeless. It makes realize how powerless human beings still are, even in this age of incredible technology, to the forces of nature. It also reminds me how lucky I really am.

Several thoughts went through my mind after hearing of the destruction. My first thought was, "How can I go on this trip when people are suffering?" It just didn't seem right for me to travel around the world while people were dying in my own country. I then thought, "Maybe I should just cancel this trip and volunteer to help." But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed wrong to do so. I've worked and saved and planned and invested so much time and money into this trip that it would be a terrible waste to throw it all away now. Maybe I'm just selfish, but I feel like I've earned this trip through all of my hard work. I could try to postpone my journey until a time when there is no suffering in the world, but that will never happen. So in reality, it's now or never.

The next thought I had was that maybe I could drive to New Orleans and volunteer before leaving on my trip. Unfortunately, I only have three weeks before I leave (my plane tickets are non-transferable) and New Orleans is thousands of miles away. I would spend a week driving across the country, and I have a lot of stuff to take care of at home before leaving. There's just not enough time to do something like that. So what else is there?

I guess I have to be realistic. I can't save the world single-handedly. A very smart person pointed out that there will be others in need of help in the places I am going, and while they aren't going to be on the nightly news, my time would be better spent helping them. Therefore, I have donated money to help the victims of Katrina, and I will volunteer time to help the local people I will be visiting. I feel that this is how I can make my best impact. I'm not writing this to brag or to tell anyone else what to do with their lives. I just want to show myself that, given the circumstances of the world around me, I am doing what I can do to help.

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