Student sets off for "adventure of a lifetime"

A semester studying abroad has set the stage for an adventure of a lifetime for James Hayes.

A senior Computer Science major at Youngstown State University, Hayes departed June 24 for a 10-week motorcycle/backpacking/service trip across southeast Asia. Covering 4,350 miles through the jungles, mountains and monsoons of the region, the trip will begin in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, and end in the Assam region of India.

“I am most looking forward to volunteering and getting to know locals across SE Asia, especially in Laos and Vietnam. The best way to experience any country is to spend time with the very backbone of the nation, farmers, teachers, laborers, etc.,” said Hayes. “You can truly see how an everyday person lives in these underdeveloped nations. I also look forward to the natural challenge that comes with riding a motorbike across SE Asia.”

While studying abroad at Mahidol University in Salaya, Thailand, during the fall 2017 semester, Hayes met fellow traveler Matt Redmond, a student also studying abroad, from Ireland.

Together, Hayes and Redmond will undertake this journey, stopping along the way to volunteer at orphanages in Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. They are also hoping to spend time helping with oceanic and beach conservation in Vietnam and rainforest conservation in Myanmar.

James Hayes and Matt Redmond
“Most of all, I hope to leave a positive impact on people's lives,” said Hayes. “Visiting these countries can be a very humbling experience so when I leave, I hope I can look back on this experience and realize how lucky I am to be born in America.”

Hayes will be sharing his adventures in real-time. YSU will be sharing posts from Hayes periodically throughout the summer, including on Instagram Live, on the university’s Instagram account (@youngstownstate), starting with his trek from Japan to Vietnam. His locations will also be mapped on a Google Maps.