I’ll Leave You With a Question: Are you a Tourist or Pilgrim?

As I gear up to say goodbye to Bravo Group, one phrase has stuck in my head — tourist vs.  pilgrim — and what that looks like in my community and work environment.

I was introduced to the “tourist vs. pilgrim” concept while studying abroad in Australia around this time a year ago. While both individuals experience a journey of sorts, a tourist and a pilgrim have contrasting natures.

A tourist is someone seeking a surface experience who asks questions of authenticity while holding the experience over the destination. A pilgrim, on the other hand, travels with a sense of emptiness and sacredness and seeks to make a home in every location; a pilgrim plants roots.

During my time abroad, we were encouraged to be pilgrims rather than tourists. The fruit of this meant spending less time tanning and eating açai bowls by the beach and embracing more time with the everyday people a tourist would never encounter. Instead of staying in a university dorm, I lived with an Australian host family for four months. And when I had Mondays off, I volunteered at a senior community center instead of taking the bus to the beach.

When it came time to leave, I wanted to ensure my return to America wasn’t also a return to the person I was four months prior. For me, this meant learning how to be a pilgrim in my college’s surrounding community — funny enough, a place I previously had mistakenly referred to as “home.”

I quickly realized I had displayed some pilgrim characteristics as a student living on campus, but I was merely a tourist to the surrounding community. Simply stated: I hadn’t planted any roots outside of campus limits. How was I going to change this?

One way of investing in Harrisburg’s community and culture meant learning how to simultaneously use my career and vocational aspirations, an opportunity Bravo Group provided me as an intern.

Bravo Group spends time collaborating as a team, connecting with the local community and creatively partnering alongside clients. What exactly does this mean? It means my internship furthered my pilgrimage in the following ways:

  • Teaching me to come with an empty cup and leave with a cup overflowing with knowledge, mentorship and real-world experience
  • Providing the opportunity to seek new ways of serving the local community — represented from our day of service at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
  • Aiding my ability to see how my career and vocation can work together for the good of a community
  • Helping my roots grow a little deeper through my love for Bravo Group, its employees and the city it resides in

I say goodbye to Bravo with a heavy heart, knowing I didn’t come to experience an “authentic internship,” but to come empty, be filled and plant roots, making it hard to leave.

Thank you, Bravo, for the lessons, the love and the laughs.

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