Dance in the Boston Ballet. Play in the New York Philharmonic. Cure cancer. Become the first woman president. Write a book. Open a restaurant. These were few of the hundreds of ambitions that were scrawled across a board by UT students last week. Many hesitated to write down their deepest passions, maybe in fear of receiving judgmental looks or believing that their goals were simply ridiculous and unreachable.
On October 3 and 4, 25-year-old Russ Garcia visited the UT campus in hopes of encouraging students that their dreams were in fact obtainable. He presented four 4’x8’ boards that displayed the quote: “If you could pursue your dream with no fear of failure, what would you do?” The board, which took Garcia nearly two weeks to construct, encouraged students to write down dreams and visions of their ideal future.
“The boards are just a way of sharing the message that whatever it is that is important to your dream and passion, then that is what you should make sacrifices towards pursuing,” Garcia stated.
Over the past month, Garcia visited Texas State, where he graduated from two years ago, and UTSA to promote his project, theworldonmyback.com. The website was launched in May shortly after he decided to drop everything—his marketing job and long-term girlfriend— to pursue his aspiration of volunteering and backpacking across South America.
“I’m not going to do something that doesn’t allow me to grow and challenge myself and be the person that I would like to be,” said Garcia. “I knew I had the desire to do something else for a reason.”
Last week, Garcia’s project was also featured on two San Antonio morning news shows, San Antonio Living and Great Day SA.
Garcia plans to post video and photo updates on the website of his backpacking trip, which will begin in Lima, Peru on October 11. For the first month and a half, cameraman Darren Fitch, a graduate of the USC film school, will accompany Garcia on his expedition. After that, Garcia will be traveling solo.
Garcia lives by the motto, “Sometimes, you just gotta jump”, which is also featured on the website as well as his T-Shirts that people can buy to help support his dream adventure. Garcia hopes his example will be an inspiration for students to take risks to achieve their ultimate goals.
“I would rather have a life of ‘oh well’s’ than a life of ‘what if’s,’” Garcia said.
Garcia also plans to type up the thousands of entries that students wrote on the boards across the three campuses and turn it into a blog series titled, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” after the John Lennon song.
Garcia has faith that his trip will help him grow both personally and creatively. He is eager to learn Spanish and Portuguese, be immersed in new cultures, and volunteer with those who are in need.
“I believe that being out of one's comfort zone forces them to grow, just out of sheer necessity to adapt,” Garcia said. “That type of growth can only be achieved by pushing one's boundaries.”
Garcia had one final message that he wanted to get across.
“Life is too short to not pursue [your dream]. You’re going to be doing something, so you might as well do what you want to, risk, and take a little bit of a leap. If not that, then what?”