Courtney Spence on How Travel Creates Cathartic Moments

In Chapter 5 of 19 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive Courtney Spence answers "What Have You Found Most Rewarding About Traveling to New Places?"  Spence notes how the art and journey of traveling has helped her find breakthrough moments in her life.  She notes the trips need not be exotic; rather, it is about the experiences that make a trip and resulting positive and inspirational impact they have in her life.  Courtney Spence returns to CYF for her Year 3 interview.  As Founder and Executive Director, Spence leads non-profit Students of the World to empower college students to use film, photography, and journalism to tell stories of global issues and the organizations working to address them.  Spence graduated with a BA in History from Duke University.


Erik Michielsen: What have you found most rewarding about traveling to new places?

Courtney Spence: I think new places prompts new ideas. Big landscapes prompt big ideas. I think there is so much to the art and the journey of traveling. Even if it’s being in an airport or flying in an airplane or being in a train or driving a car, I think that it’s not about the destination, as much as it is about the actual journey itself. And I’ve realized that I’m fortunate that I’ve always loved the journey. I actually love flying. I, you know, couldn’t help that I’m really short and so the little spaces I can fit into easily, but I really do enjoy that process of meeting new people and seeing things I hadn’t seen before and really have, particularly in the last 6 months, recognized the need – when you’re trying to think of new things, or you’re trying to go through a breakthrough or you’re up against a wall and you just – you’re in a rut or you need something big to shift, you’ve gotta move yourself out of the location that you’ve been in and the locations quite frankly that you’re familiar with to really breakthrough effectively. At least that’s what I need.

So, I’ve seen it happen and I’ve been able to sort of reflect on the moments where we have gone through breakthroughs with Students of the World, which are also breakthroughs for me personally. They’ve really come from going to new places. And, you know, places like Chesapeake Bay or Norfolk, Virginia, I mean they’re very – it doesn’t have to be exotic necessarily, it just has to be new. So I’ve learned a lot about that, and particularly recently, so.