For years, Brianna Olguin had dreamed of visiting the Colosseum in Rome and walking the cobblestone streets of Italy. Earlier this year, the 18-year-old’s wish came true when The Buried Life (TBL) teamed up with Contiki to whisk her away from her small town of Isleta Puelbo, New Mexico and fly her to Italy — all expenses paid.
Pretty awesome, right?
It all started when Olguin wrote a letter to TBL, who encourage people to check things off their “Things to do before I die” list.
“My freshman teacher taught me about Italy and the Renaissance,” Olguin said. “I wanted to write to someone about my dream to go there.”
She admits that “I just blew it off after I wrote it. I didn’t think anything would come of it.”
Luckily for her, TBL really took her letter to heart.
“It was hard to choose who to take on the trip, but just the sincerity of her story made us pick her,” said Jonnie Penn of TBL. “Travelling is such a powerful tool in discovering yourself and she deserved it.”
Not only did Olguin get to pray with the Pope at the Vatican and roam the Tuscan countryside, she got to do it with the B.C. boys of TBL, Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn and Jonnie Penn (pictured above).
“We want to encourage people to travel together and step out of their comfort zones.” Penn said. “There’s nothing like experiencing things collectively.”
Olguin can agree with that sentiment. Walking into this whole experience, she says she was shy and a little reserved. However, once things started to pick up, she soon discovered that opening up to people wasn’t such a bad thing.
Whether it was getting stuck in the elevator with the boys in Florence or getting scolded by an Italian chef for putting too many toppings on their pizza, Olguin embraced it all.
Even Penn agrees. “She definitely came back to the States more open and outgoing,” he said.
So, after Olguin got to experience this trip of a lifetime, you’re probably wondering what her favourite part was, right? While she loved every single minute of it, she said that seeing Tuscany was by far the most surreal. We can’t blame her. Look at the picture above. It looks like it’s straight out of a postcard.
Penn and Olgin hope that this trip inspires young people to take their own giant leap of faith and travel to the far corners of the Earth.
“It’s honestly the right way to quench your curiosity,” Penn said. “If you’re looking to evolve as a human being and open up your mind, following your dreams and travelling will do just that.”