Worldwide Adventures

The Ballito MagazineJanuary 3, 2024

A young local accepts the challenge to travel to 30 countries before she turns 30! Yente shares her exciting journey with us.

 

Meet Yente, a 31-year-old whose heart has found solace in the picturesque coastal town of Ballito since early 2020. She has travelled across 35 countries on six continents, each adventure leaving a unique imprint on her soul.

 

Taj Mahal, India

Yente’s interest in international travel first began with academic pursuits. Bursaries and research projects paved the way, culminating in an invitation to join a research team in China. Her advice to young adults echoes her own beginnings: “Explore study abroad programmes, gap years or volunteer opportunities. These experiences not only enrich your resume but also broaden your horizons and help you meet diverse people.”

 

During the COVID lockdown, Yente dreamed of post-lockdown adventures, promising herself to create meaningful experiences in the final years of her twenties. She then discovered the “30 countries by 30” challenge (to travel to 30 countries before turning 30 years old) online, which sparked her curiosity and encouraged her to take part. Understanding the different perspectives of the challenge, she established her own criteria: to spend a full day outside the airport, explore local transport, and indulge in authentic cuisine in each country.

 

Seizing opportunities from business trips and spontaneous invitations from friends, Yente’s journey unfolded. “From the age of 28 to 30, I set off on an incredible few years of adventures around the world – starting with a company retreat in Hawaii and making my way across the world, where I eventually celebrated my 30 country (Fiji) during the month of my 30th birthday (November 2022)!”

 

Cuba

Amidst her global escapades, she found profound wisdom within herself. “If you don’t find peace within yourself, you won’t find it somewhere else,” she asserts, debunking the illusion of constant happiness portrayed on social media. Solo travels challenged her introverted nature, forcing her out of her comfort zone.

 

Among all the countries, Morocco stands out for Yente. Its vibrant blend of cultures shaped her perspective profoundly. “Morocco made me more open-minded and empathetic. It taught me patience and the importance of respect and humility when faced with language barriers in unfamiliar cultures.”

 

Sumatra, Indonesia, became a canvas for her environmental conservation efforts. In the heart of its jungles, she encountered the endangered Sumatran orangutans, their existence hanging by a fragile thread due to deforestation. Her enthusiasm shines through as she recounts her rare encounter with a blooming corpse flower, an endangered marvel of nature. The Seychelles, with its pristine beaches and coral reefs, also holds a special place in her heart.

 

Alongside her exceptional adventures, Yente now wears the hat of Regional Director of Africa, Asia, Europe and the South Pacific for Global Leadership Adventures (GLA), a US-based B Corp dedicated to empowering young minds. “We believe that young people – when given the opportunity and privilege to embrace different cultures – can confront timely challenges and develop their unique leadership styles.” With this belief, GLA has been sending intellectually curious and socially oriented teenagers on transformative journeys abroad since 2004. Deeply influenced by her own experiences, she now channels her passion into inspiring others.

 

Marrakech, Morocco

Yente’s role allows her to travel, not just for leisure but to create opportunities for teens to immerse themselves in different cultures, languages and cities. “Creating the next generation of leaders has always been important to me, and my current position allows me to ‘be the change’ I want to see for the next generation,” she states.

 

Her extensive travels have shattered stereotypes and prompted uncomfortable yet crucial conversations. “Being exposed to diverse cultures made me question my role and privilege as a responsible world citizen.” Her favourite quote, “Life is what happens while we’re busy making plans”, epitomises her approach to life. “Say yes to opportunities that align with your goals, start small, and don’t be afraid to travel alone. Solo travel doesn’t mean lonely. It can lead to many connections and friendships.”

 

Instagram: @yenteoosthuysen

Words by Kai Coates