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I couldn’t be more excited for 2012; 2012 will be the year of adventures (and the undoubted challenges every great adventure brings). While it goes without saying that much of my energy will be devoted to getting Mission off the ground, I’ll also be busily training for the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid, and more immediately, I’ve just begun a three week excursion to Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand.

A native Chicagoan, I can’t think of a better way to start a new year than to high-tail it out of the city (in the midst of Chicago winter) to a new and far-away land. This is unchartered territory for me- I’ve done a bit of traveling- but never outside of North America or Europe.

So aside from pure hatred of snow, what is it that brings me so far away? Work, actually. While the majority of my time will be spent representing my company at various conferences, I’ve managed to etch out some time for exploring as well. High on my list of priorities are (and I assure you that challenge of listing only three was considerable):

– finding (and befriending) koalas, kangaroos, and elephants

-checking out the Sydney Opera House

-catching some serious rays on the beach

-and meeting my Kiwi family in New Zealand!

But work and sunbathing aside, I’m excited for all of the opportunities this trip brings for Mission. While I’m in Bangkok, the plan is meet with some non-profits and NGOs working to bring an end to the notorious sex trade. Thailand is a major sex-vacation destination, and consequently a major epicenter for the human trafficking industry. Many amazing organizations have sprung up around Thailand (many based in Bangkok) to raise awareness for the issue, bring an end to it, and ultimately provide the women with a brighter future. As Kristen and I are still in the most rudimentary stages of designing our training program for women, this will be a great opportunity for us to start building relationships with more established organizations, and most importantly learn from them what initiatives they have found the most helpful and why. We’d like to apply their lessons-learned to our own program. Further, we’d like to be able to create a support network for the women we work with directly by linking them with other women from similar backgrounds abroad.

But looks like I’m starting to get ahead of myself… the first leg of my trip has just begun and the absolute first item on the agenda: Explore Sydney!!!