Friday, October 14, 2011

Family crosses oceans to make difference in world

Take a moment to imagine working alongside elephants in Thailand, standing in awe of St. Basil's Cathedral in Russia, caring for an orphan child in China, or aiding monks in India.

While many of us will never be able to take quite such a journey in our lifetimes, those visions are becoming a reality for Jackson Lewis at a young age.

Jackson, 14, a student at Northwest School of The Arts, is traveling the world with his father, J.D. Lewis, and brother, Buck Lewis, in a mission called "Twelve in Twelve."

The concept is simple - travel to 12 countries in 12 months, helping people in any way possible along the way. At each stop, the family volunteers at a variety of organizations.

During the journey, Jackson is documenting his experiences with a video and blog, available to middle and high schools across the country.

So far, Jackson told me his favorite country on the excursion has been India.

"It's been amazing to see the Dalai Lama and to work with ex-prisoners of Tibet who are now refugees here in McLeod Ganj," Jackson said. "The Indian people are beautiful and friendly and the food is amazing. It's a very spiritual place. I can't believe I'm actually in the foothills of the Himalayas."

Jackson took the time while in India to answer a few questions for our Young Achievers audience:

Q:To be considered wise, what must you know?
How to treat people, how to treat the planet and the environment and to have compassion for others. To be considered wise you have to learn how to treat people with respect.

Q:What is a motto you tend to live by?
That we should treat everyone on the earth as part of our family. Also, that it's really cool to help people, it makes you feel good.

Q:What character trait of yours was most responsible for your success?
That fact that I care about people and I'm not afraid of working hard. Also that I like to learn about new things.

Q:What's the best thing to say when you walk into a room full of people you don't know?
Hi! (Of course, in their own language. We try and learn "please," "thank you" and "how are you?" in the language of the country we are heading to.) Also smiling is the thing that people like the most.

Q:What advice would you give to kids who want to help others in the community?
Start in your own town. Research local charities in your area. Or talk to your parents. There is help needed everywhere. In your own backyard or across the world.

To follow Jackson's family on their trip around the world, visit Twelve in Twelve online.

Continue to follow Young Achievers for a complete story on Jackson and his travels.