Globetrotting for a good reason
After leaving Gothenburg to pursue her education and a track and field career at Iowa State, Tressa Borchardt became accustomed to life away from home, but her next adventure will take place on a much larger scale.
Borchardt will spend one month in 11 different countries on four continents as part of The World Race, a nonprofit service organization that immerses missionaries in the communities they serve.After enjoying mission trips to Mexico and Scotland in high school, her schedule as a student-athlete didn’t allow for such trips in college. She was thrilled to learn about the opportunity when she was no longer committed to being in Ames, IA, for a majority of the year.
“When I actually found out about The World Race, I was like ‘This is perfect. This is what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,’” she said.
She exchanged e-mails with a veteran of the trip and eventually ended up on the program’s website. She read all she could and applied that night. Upon acceptance, the Iowa State grad started fund-raising. According to her blog, she has accumulated upwards of $11,000 in donations.
While raising the money was challenging, it may not compare to the packing dilemma. All participants must pack everything into a large backpack weighing no more that 40 pounds. That means no computer or phone for Borchardt, but that’s not what worries her.
“As far as clothes, like how many, I don’t know. That’s been hard because it’s like there are so many cultures you have to try and prepare for and what is going to be culturally appropriate. You have different climates. Yeah, I’m having little issues with that,” the Gothenburg native said with a laugh.
After spending a couple of days in Atlanta with her group of over 40 volunteers, the team departs for Nepal on July 3. They will work their way through four Asian countries.
Then, its off to Africa where they will work in South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana. Stops in Romania and Moldova follow before finishing the trip in Guatemala and Nicaragua.
While she’s excited for each stop, there is one that has seemingly piqued her interest.
“Maybe Romania just because in college I did a lot of research about orphanages there and how it affected child development,” Borchardt responded when asked if one destination stood out above the rest.
The work will vary depending on the needs of the specific location. Possibilities include providing basic medical care, teaching English, building infrastructure and working in orphanages.
Thailand and Romania will likely present unique opportunities. The former state champion thrower anticipates working with victims of sex trafficking in Thailand and serving the Romani people, an ethnic group that originated in northern India before being brought to Europe as slaves, in Romania. The Romani people are discriminated against to this day in Europe.
While there’s no doubt Borchardt and her small team of six will impact the lives of those they serve, she anticipates taking something away from the experience.
“You have an expectation of change. You’re going to be stretched like you’ve never been stretched before in these countries where you won’t have the comforts of home. You won’t have the things you’re used to” she said.
“One thing I realized was, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I will not have ice for the next 11 months. Like, how crazy is that?’ So, little things like that, but then big impact things of just how lucky we are in a society and probably seeing some amazing miracles of what God can do in these people’s lives and in our lives.”
Outside of ice, a comfortable bed and clean, dry clothes there are immaterial things Borchardt will miss. Her younger brother, Tanner, will graduate from high school while she is away and is going through the process of being recruited as a Division I student-athlete just as she did. She will be overseas and likely without Internet connection when he makes his decision.
“I kind of feel bad about that,” she said. “It’s a neat process to be a part of, but it’s also really overwhelming.”
Borchardt gave up her final year of NCAA eligibility and spent her final semester finishing her second degree in order to start the work she’s pursuing.
The 2009 graduate of Gothenburg High has worked at Hiebner Chiropractic and New Hope Counseling after returning to town. When she returns from her journey around the globe, she may head out once again, as Borchardt hopes to receive her master’s in social work, possibly at an international university.
As fun and interesting as globetrotting is, Borchardt believes its even better when you can impact the places you visit.
“Traveling the world is cool, but it makes it so much more meaningful when there’s the faith aspect and you are really able to help touch people’s lives,” she said. “I’m sure I’m going to come back even more changed than I am going to help change anybody else.”