By: Joseph Burns, Work and Travel Employer Services Manager

Spanish philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, famously wrote, “I am I and my circumstances.” While this statement is said to be the backbone of Ortega’s philosophy of life, there are various opinions on its meaning. However, I have taken this to mean that our “circumstances” are the results of our surroundings, but it is what we choose to do with these results that make us the “I” in ourselves.

My surroundings while growing up were along Michigan’s “Gold Coast,” which was a reference to the region’s natural beauty and not its swankiness. When I was about 18 years old, I caught the travel bug, and have since seen many corners of the world. I have found that with each new travel experience, my interpretation of the world has evolved, as do I.

At our cores, we are markedly unique. We cannot diverge from our own inner being, which leads us through our experiences and determines what they mean to us. Perhaps that is what Ortega meant by “I am I.” Perhaps our “circumstances” are the result of our surroundings and is the fuel that allows us to grow to the limits of what we’re inherently capable of.

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As the year comes to a close, let’s agree that the scope of our achievements doesn’t end here. At CCI Greenheart, we are lucky enough to provide circumstances and surroundings on a global level for our participants. In particular, this year we have an opportunity to promote cultural exchange through our ever growing media presence and expansion of our Going Greenheart Tours. In addition, we’re bringing back our Ambassador Scholar Program in 2014, which gives our participants an even greater opportunity to have a positive, lasting impact on their host communities.

So in 2014, let’s be proud of our surroundings, but strive for new circumstances. Let’s be bigger. Let’s do it brighter. Happy New Year!