Marcela is the co-founder of On Board, a mobile outdoor classroom where mindful, continuously moving students learn, travel and make an impact in the communities they visit. She is best described as a life-long education-hacking journeyer. At age 24 she has already visited 45 countries, lived in 7 countries, and learned 6 languages. She has created her own career path as a Flow Consultant and she is currently working with EduAction on a documentary about alternative education projects like gap years as replacements for the formal university path.
Where are you from originally, and why did you choose to leave your home to travel?
I am from Medellin, Colombia and the first time I chose to leave home for more than two months was right after high school. I went to France to study French and the travel bug bit me, hard. After that, I spent a year volunteering in Palermo, Sicily.
Think back to before you ever took your first trip abroad. What was the biggest thing holding you back, and how did you overcome it?
There was never a strong reason that was holding me back, personally. However, my mother was very attached to me and she had been sick for quite a few years so the hardest part was to leave her, knowing that it was difficult for her to let me go even though she supported me.
What is one key lesson you’ve learned from traveling?
I think the biggest lesson has been to deeply understand the world we live in and put into perspective the challenges we all face by living in one country or another, including how that “simple” factor really makes us who we are as individuals.
Also, I believe that learning the language, the culture and the history of the foreign countries I lived in were the best “subjects” I could have ever studied!
What is your dream trip?
My dream trip is one in which traveling is the engine for having great learning experiences… A journey in which I would be surrounded by a community of travelers, exploring the depths of a country and leaving a positive impact on the communities we visit!
Ideally, that dream trip will happen very often now that I’ve created my startup, On Board, that is getting travelers around Colombia on a bus that doubles as a mobile classroom.
How have you designed your life to include travel as a core part of your lifestyle?
Traveling for me has always been the most authentic way of learning and I have always looked for opportunities to travel without escaping from reality, but instead using travel to shape reality and understand it better.
This is the reason why Camilo Russi, my cofounder, and I created On Board, a mobile outdoor classroom. We expect to expand our vision of On Board to other countries that would like their visitors to discover their country in a unique way. We also want to build a community, a network of ‘on boarders’ around the globe.
What would you be doing if you hadn’t started traveling?
Honestly, I don’t really know! When I was at university in my city, before going abroad to two different universities and deciding to walk the path of alternative education, I created a program called “Paisajiando”. I offered walking tours around my city showing people the non-touristy, true sides of Medellin and people paid me according to how much they liked the tour. It was a way to travel without leaving my country, and if I hadn’t started traveling I would probably still be doing that.
How do you stay adventurous in your everyday life?
I really try to avoid being in front of screens (whether that’s TV, my computer, or my phone) and I make sure I’m outside more, meeting good people and exploring new places. I join new networks and communities and I intentionally do something new every week. Reading great books also pumps up my adventurous spirit. I also love welcoming foreigners to Colombia and hanging out with them!
Oh, and my weekends are sacred: I have to discover a new town or get back in touch with nature!
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