Sometimes awesome people can appear in the strangest, most unexpected places. They could be the person two rows in front of you on a bus, they could be next to you in line at the DMV, or in Lera's case, she could be in the same grocery isle in a market in Almaty, Kazakhstan while you debate with other travel buddies over which ketchup to buy. Yes, I'm being hyper specific because this is exactly how our first encounter happened. As a result, it made my whole Kazakhstan trip exceptionally better.

Introduction to Lera

In my travels, I've met many interesting and determined people, but never have I come across anyone as open to the world and full of life as Lera. Just upon hearing me speak English in the ketchup isle (hence realizing I was a foreigner), she dedicated the rest of her week to making sure I got to see the best Almaty had to offer, which included a hike up in the mountains overlooking the city and a 3 hour walk across the entire city at night. In all the places I've been, I've never gotten a  see a side of the city and culture in such a unique way, which made the whole experience extra exceptional. But the best part about this was that Lera seemed to be enjoying this just as much as I did.

More than anyone else I've met in my travels, Lera was more determined to have the best experience possible out of life, both for her and for the people she meets. Happily, and I mean happily, she regularly wakes up at five in the morning to have breakfast with friends while the rest of the city silently sleeps, yet still has the energy to hike up mountains and show foreigners the most interesting and unique spots of the city, all the while sharing in-depth conversations about life, society, and her desire to better the world as much as she can.

When discussing her desire to help others as much as she can, I was able to learn what I found to be the most interesting and defining part of her character. Speaking without any fronts or facades, she explained how no matter what someone does or how negatively they act towards her, she could never hate them. As she put it, she loves the world and humanity, and despite being well aware of its horrors and flaws, she can never let negativity take over.As a part of this society, she knows there's nothing she'd rather do than to dedicate her whole self towards creating better world and future for as many people as she can. She told me this, admitting that it may not be possible and that she may likely fail, yet confidentially assured it was all worth it no matter the success.

To Lera, there was no other way to live than by being your best self. We're all part of the world, and even if we can't solve all it's problems, we can always do something to make at least one person's day better, whether it be helping a stranger, cheering up a friend, or taking a bearded foreigner to Almaty's best coffee shop. And, I can assure you, she'll do it all with a friendly laugh and smile.

Lera quote: I'm not afraid to fail. I like it and I embrace it. It means I'm human. It means I can grow and learn.

Be like Lera. Be open to the world and everyone in it, despite the flaws. Be your full self.