STORY TIME: How A Lifelong Love of Traveling and Cultural Exploration Led Anina to Find Her Purpose
“I have always had a desire to see the world. It began as a bucket-list in 2008, created in an eighth-grade homeroom of 100 things I wanted to do before I die. That list manifested into my life’s mission.”
Some childhood dreams and aspirations never die. This was the case for our founder, Anina Monteforte, who from an early age knew she wanted to travel and explore every corner of the world and make the world a better place while she was at it. Quite a daring dream for a young girl, but little did this budding trailblazer know that her scribbled down bucket list and ambitious dream would one day become a reality and lead to the creation of The World Within Us.
“In 2016, I set off for a journey on Semester at Sea, a voyage that changed my heart and mind forever”
During her final year at Coastal Carolina University, Anina set off on a five month voyage at sea through the Semester at Sea program, that changed her life forever. She sailed across the world, immersed herself in diverse cultures, and forged everlasting friendships with like minded peers from around the world. Anina’s experience at Semester as Sea helped her realize her capability and determination in making travel her reality, and that the most beautiful places in the world are often times the places less commercialized. She's visited places like Morocco, Senegal, Ecuador, and Peru. Anina has watched the hot air balloons rise over temples in Myanmar, experienced 5 of the Wonders of The World, experienced The Universe's divine creation of Iguazu Falls, and performed a sundowner ritual with the Maasai tribe beside Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The stories are endless.
Travel isn't always about fancy five star hotels and luxurious cocktails – it’s about seeing and taking part in the beauty, kindness, and humanity you’ve experienced.
Anina realized this during her travels and wanted to make sure that this kind of travel could be experienced and accessible to everyone. Staying true to her commitment to exploring the world, Anina’s traveled to over 43+ countries around the world since 2015. Her experiences are truly fearless and inspiring; from wildlife watching in the Serengeti and spending the night in traditional Maasai lodge, and in remote village communities in Tanzania. Also walking the bustling streets of Brazil’s Rio de Janiero and gazing up-close at the breathtaking natural creations of the Iguazu Falls – Anina’s crossed off so many travel locations (multiple times!) on her bucket list! If only we could all do this!
But what feelings have stayed with her the most? Anina says it’s the kindness of the local communities and peoples she’s met, their welcoming with open arms, and the connection she had with people that makes her travel experiences stay vivid and alive in her mind forever.
“I decided I wanted to be a part of changing our world, which at the time felt like an immeasurable and insanely large task. But I knew I had to use all these experiences to build something.”
Anina’s passion to explore the world quickly led her to realize her passion for making an impact on local communities in the places she visited as well. In her trip to Kathmandu, Nepal, Anina volunteered with local women’s empowerment NGO “Seven Women” in which she quickly grew close with the warm and welcoming staff and local Nepali women who taught her traditional Nepali cooking, artisanship, and more. She supported during her time to help them create a grant proposal to submit to the Nepali government and welcomed other travelers to the centre. This experience led Anina to join the growing bandwagon on people who want to make change and impact the world for the better. In order to gain a deeper expertise, Anina also decided to chase her passion on an higher academic level by pursuing her Master’s Degree in Global Affairs and International Development at NYU.