From urban life in Baltimore Maryland, Devin Murray at age 25 embarked in a life-changing experience when he decided to go to Australia as part of an international exchange program. The experience not only allowed him to engage in a humanitarian efforts by assisting with flood recovery, but see life beyond physical appearances and to see real value in the heart, mind, and soul of an individual.
Current Age: 31
What impact do you feel this trip had on you?
Coming from the urban life of Baltimore MD, I never imagined I would be able to see a place like Australia in real life. When I was finally able to do so, it changed my perception of the environment in which I grew up (inner city). The experience also changed my views on people and the value we place on material things and our physical appearance. Australia is a beautiful place. I also saw the unfortunate side of the aboriginal people there. Learning the history of the people, seeing the condition in which they were struggling, helped me change my perspective on my own values at the time. Seeing poverty all around us back in Baltimore, we just wanted to get out, drive nice cars, and have a lot of clothes and money to match; then maybe buy houses to serve as "status symbols". These were the values of an immature mind as I see it now. Being in Australia allowed me to see people who were in an even more impoverished situation than myself, which opened my eyes to a new view on life.
“…it made me realize that no matter how physically attractive one may appear to be, the value of who they are is in their heart, their actions, the mind and the soul.”
Do you feel this trip affected your sense of self or the world? If so, in what way?
Most definitely. Prior to this trip I was heavy into body building/weight lifting. With this comes a lot of attention as far as how good you look, how big and in shape you are or how attractive you are. But when you are not looking your best, your sense of self-worth declines because of the lack of attention you do not receive. For me personally, I noticed this was a big thing, it made me realize that no matter how physically attractive one may appear to be, the value of who they are is in their heart, their actions, the mind and the soul.
The situation that stuck out the most was when I met a woman inside of her jewelry store in Australia. She owned the store. After a long conversation, her last words to me were “it’s not the size or authenticity of the gold or diamond, but the value it has to you and how much it means to you whether big or small…"
What do you think you accomplished or pursued that you otherwise would not have?
I knew I had to see what life was like outside of Baltimore. And this is what brought me to California, which in turn allowed me to go to Australia. I later learned that it was always my mother's dream to go to California, and another relative of mines dream to go to Australia. In a sense I felt like I was doing it for them as well. Vicariously they would live that dream through me and knowing this fueled my desire to achieve more. I also went skydiving for the first time in Australia. To me, it was symbolic of getting rid of fear of many levels, mentally and physically.
Devin Murray was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated in 2003 from Woodlawn Senior High. Devin majored in Multicultural Relations acquiring a degree from Cuesta Community College. He served in the California Conservation Corps from 2010 to 2016. Currently he resides in Berkeley California.