The following is a reflection from a participant in SEA-TRI-KAN, a cross-state bike tour that is raising support for newly arrived families as they look for employment and begin a new life.
Day 1, June 17, 2015
Kent, WA to Cabin by the White River, 59 miles & 2,750 feet elevation gain
My name is Samuel Smith and I am travelling across Washington State for World Relief’s SEA-TRI-KAN…as a support driver. I know, I know. It is not quite as glamorous as biking across the state but so far it has still proven be a great experience.
My connection to World Relief is through the Cultural Companion program. My fiancé Sarah, (who is now a World Relief intern) and I were paired with a wonderful Iraqi family who welcomed us into their home, shared their lives and their food with us, and were our friends. Sadly for us but great for them, the father started a new job that made seeing the family more difficult. Nevertheless, our connection to World Relief allowed for me to hear about a cross-state bike ride. “Cool!”, I thought. But I was in no shape to ride across the state. I was, though, just going to be graduated from college and thought volunteering for the trip would be a great way to start my summer. I experienced first-hand how important employment has been for my friends and I wanted to do something to help.
On day one, I woke up early, experienced a wonderful send-off from Kent, immediately filled up the twelve passenger van with gas, saw some great views, and arrived just outside of Mt. Rainier National Park at a friend’s cabin.
The bikers on the trip are some high-energy, friendly people and I am already so glad for having met them. After we arrived at the cabin and ate dinner we all sat around and played a little get-to-know-you game. We went around in a circle and all said our reasons for the trip and where we wanted to travel next. Most answers (and mine) included a positive experience with World Relief and a recognition for how vital employment is for refugees, financially, mentally, and emotionally. The place that the most people said they would like to travel to was Turkey (me too!). I enjoyed this time of talking and getting to know one another because I was able to see others’ motivations. I saw that they closely mirrored mine. Working together as a unified group is something I appreciate and I am sure will make the rest of the trip more enjoyable (or at least more bearable for the riders heading up Chinook Pass tomorrow). Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my brief insight in to the trip. Don’t worry. Next, you’ll get the perspective of someone who is putting in the real hard work!