Letter from the Founder

Zach Smelcer
March 1, 2019

By Zach Smelcer

I’ve had a passion for working with students from a young age. My desire for teaching others was the driving force in becoming an education major. What really changed for me after acquiring my education degree was discovering that the classroom isn’t the only place we can learn, grow, and develop.

Little did I know, that in 2010 when I embarked on my first journey overseas that my life would be changed forever. This trip pushed me further out of my comfort zone than I could have ever dreamed. A spark ignited within me and it didn’t take long to recognize that all those studying along with me were also being provided their own unique opportunity to grow. This in itself was very different from my own.

I had to ask myself the question, “Why were all these exchange students being provided this life altering experience?”

The answer was simple: We had all come from a background that afforded us this opportunity.

What once was a spark is now a burning passion and why Zugunruhe is doing what it is today. How can we provide opportunities to explore the world through experiential learning to students from all different kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds?

After pondering this question for over six years, 32 countries, and five jobs, I designed Zugunruhe Experiences to begin providing these very opportunities while hopefully turning this into so much more.

There have been many ups and downs since deciding to embark on this adventure a few years ago. I’ve learned to be patient and ‘trust the process’. I know there will be more obstacles to overcome, but I’ve been preparing for this opportunity since the first day I set foot on an airplane eight years ago. This journey has provided me laughter, tears, triumph, defeat, challenge, growth and most of all smiles and new relationships. I’m ready to bring all of this and more to the next generation and show them what it means to be a citizen of the world.

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