Tracy Sena

What makes you an "Explorer"?

I love to travel. Nothing is more exciting for me than to finally go to a place that I read about in textbooks since I was a little girl, and see that it really does exist. I have seen six-feet tall kangaroos in the Australian bush, held a huge sting ray in my arms in the Caribbean, stood in the middle of the Roman Coliseum, and been speechless as clouds blew around me high in the mountains at Machu Picchu. I also enjoy talking to people who live in those faraway places, and discovering how different we are on the outside, but how much we're alike on the inside.

What other people have been role models and/or mentors for you?

Growing up, I read everything I could about Helen Keller. I suppose she was my first hero. I admired the way that Helen overcame the many obstacles in her life. She was also a person who loved to learn.

I have had two mentors, and they were both my teachers. Betsey Cary was my second and third grade teacher who had great patience with me. A lot of teachers would have thought that I was naughty. Instead, she saw some spark in me, loved me and helped me to become a better person. She is still dear to me even though we write only a couple of times a year -- and then usually by e-mail.

My other mentor was my fifth and sixth grade teacher, Jean Besich. Her classroom probably looked "messy" to a lot of other teachers, but it was because we always had so many interesting projects going on. She fostered my love for writing, but especially for learning. If we wanted to order a movie from the school district's office because we thought it might be interesting, she let us. When we wanted to do a science project which was in the book or start a school newspaper, she let us. In her classroom I learned that I could make good decisions and be in charge of my own learning.

Why have you chosen to participate in this expedition?

My good friend Susan told me that she and Shelly had thought about taking this trip and asked me if I wanted to join them to take pictures and help with the equipment. I haven't been on an "adventure" for a couple of summers, and this sounded really exciting, so I decided to go for it.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?

The Amazon River will probably be hot and humid, and I will probably see (and be eaten by) enough bugs to last a lifetime. I think that it is important, though, to occasionally do something which is a little bit difficult because it makes you grow as a person. Spending a week on the river and seeing part of the Amazon River is an experience which many people only dream of doing -- and I get to do it! I am looking forward to the adventure of the trip which will come not just from meeting new people in a new place, but also to the experience doing something which is different and maybe a little bit hard, and getting to know something more about myself in the process.

What skills are necessary for this journey?

Because my job on the trip will be to record our experiences with technological tools (computers, digital camera, satellite transmitter, etc.), it is essential that I know how to use those tools well. It is important that I am able to problem-solve when things go wrong (which they always do with computers), and to keep at the job even when things aren't working right.

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