Is it possible to be a parent, have a career and still live your passion? Is it possible to take your passion and make a career out of it? Not only a career, but a business that positively impacts the world? Yes, Yes and Yes. Meet Laura Huston & Sarah Hughen. Close friends who share a tremendous love not only for their children but for surfing, travel and humanity. With the help of two professors at SDSU, Sarah and Laura have co-founded Groundswell Educational Travel and have both made a conscious decision to remember what “fuels” them.
Their business partners are Dr. Jess Ponting (assistant professor in sustainable tourism who has completed the world’s first PhD to focus on sustainable surf tourism management) & Sim Barhoum (professor in the Rhetoric and Writing Department and former writer/editor for Surfer and Longboard Magazines) and their new business “leads immersion courses in sustainable tourism to world-class surfing destinations for college credit.” To learn more about Groundswell Educational Travel and the great things they do, go to our Ethical Business section.
As with all of our Remarkable People stories, this article/interview is not so much about what they do but why they do it and how it has impacted their lives. For a full bio on Laura and Sarah go to www.groundswelltravel.com. Now let’s hear what these two motivated moms have to say about their experience of living their passion….
World Minded (WM): How has starting Groundswell Educational Travel enriched your lives?
Laura Huston (LH): “It’s so fulfilling to put time and energy into something you believe in. Not focusing on a paycheck but something you are passionate about just feels right.”
Sarah Hughen (SH): “I feel like I’m meeting myself again while on these trips and remembering who I am. Back home I’m mom, which I love but there are other things I have fallen in love with or used to love. It’s a good balance and I truly believe all my life experiences have lead up to this point. People want to find their vision and I feel like I was given a gift by finding mine.”
WM: Tell us about some of your experiences on these trips?
SH: “The night of the first trip was intense. We landed on the small island of Bocas Del Toro near Panama where the kids dragged their huge bags across dirt roads from the airport to a boat dock. We then motored through several archipelagos to a small pier at Bastimentos Island. It was nearly dark out and we proceeded to walk through the jungle with our guide to our destination. This was the first international experience for most of these kids! We have done three trips now and each trip has been less intense for us.”
LH: “We didn’t know what to expect the first trip and bringing 18 students to a remote country felt a little crazy at first. We ended up having a lot of fun on that trip, but it is a lot of responsibility and you have to think on your feet.”
SH: “Almost every single student who has gone on a trip with us has said this is the best thing that has ever happened to them. One project we did required intense labor and we helped build a water system for a new high school. The students got a real feeling for their impact in this small town and even realized they won’t see physical reward, but that their reward is internal. And that feels really good for us to see and hear this!”
WM: Tell us about some of your feelings after a trip?
LH: “Getting back to my life after one of these trips can be overwhelming. Once we got back late on a Sunday evening and I was back in a corporate office the next morning. It’s really about finding balance between my role as a wife, mother, branding strategist and making time to do something for me such as Groundswell.”
SH: “For me there is a big adrenalin rush when I return from one of these trips. All of a sudden I’m back home packing lunches for my kids. One time I even forgot to put on shoes while I dropped my boys off at school right after I got back from a trip!”
WM: What do you recommend others do to get back to or find their passion?
SH: “So many people get busy with day to day life and forget what fuels them or their passion. It’s common for people to find themselves again later in life, especially moms, but we should be taking the time now if we can.”
LH: “People have created limitations on themselves and should take a step back and expand their worldview. Learn something new (a sport or a craft), meet new people or take a trip where you have never been. Take up surfing! Just do something however small to expand themselves.”
Wow, both incredible people and I think it’s so inspiring that they made the time to create not only something positive for the world but something that “fuels” them. Balance, contrast and timing are all ideas I think about frequently. If you swing yourself too far in one direction you will be spinning circles and if you don’t make some time to do the things you love you may not do the other things you do as well as you could. If we only did things for ourselves we’d be unfulfilled and get pretty bored. And if we tried to get everything done at once we’d either wear ourselves out or not do what we do very well. There is a time and place for most things.
During the interview Sarah told me that she is able to do this type of work now that her boys are in school full-time. She is saddened because they don’t need her as much but happy that she can spend some energy getting back to her passions. From their tone it sounds like both Laura and Sarah are not in a rush to get it all done at once and are going to grow the business organically. Music to my ears. Congratulations to both of them and I thank them for being World Minded!
About Charles Perry
Charles is a bit of a renaissance man, a citizen of the planet, a building inspector by trade, devoted father & husband and one of the funniest people he knows. He is deeply passionate about peace, social justice and respect and equality for all living creatures. Charles thought up the World Minded ideology several years ago and has made it his goal to inspire people around the world to care for themselves, others and the planet we share by exposing what’s right in the world. He resides in the Eastern Sierras and loves life in the mountains, but longs for the beach because of some ridiculous “grass is always greener” notion.