A few weeks ago I had the chance to sit down with Jordan Thoms to speak about his journey with impossible2Possible (i2P). i2P is an organization that uses the platform of adventure and technology to educate, inspire, and empower the global community to reach beyond their perceived limits and make positive change in the world; bringing expeditions into classrooms and classrooms onto expeditions. Since 2009 i2P has provided free interactive education resources to tens of thousands of students from countries all over the world during expeditions to Antarctica, Chile, the Arctic, Siberia, North Africa, the Amazon Jungle, the Bolivian Salar de Uyuni, the Indian Thar Desert, the Andes mountain range, and the Kalahari desert!
Tell us about your first encounters with i2P and how your journey got started
While I was studying Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa I had a remarkable world-renowned professor named Dr. Terry Orlick, who focuses on topics such as sport psychology, mental training, and life excellence. I was fortunate enough to be in his “Quality of Life” class. This was like no other class; it was very unlike a typical academic course. The course delivery was focused on keeping a journal, reading a variety of positive and self-help books (including his very own “In Pursuit of Excellence”), and participating in class discussions. All of this was focused around “Quality of Life” topics such as love, perseverance, resiliency, passion, purpose, etc. The main purpose was to share our ideas and opinions in an open forum discussion to unravel various perspectives and outlooks. To this day, it is one of the best educational experiences of my life!
It was a really refreshing way to learn. It ignited something within me to pursue similar topics and like-minded individuals. I then found myself in a “Personality” class where I was first introduced to the movie “The Secret” for the first time, opening my mind to concepts and people such as the law of attraction, the self-fulfilling prophecy, Andrew Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Napoleon Hill, and W. Clement Stone. I had developed a thirst to learn about human potential, positive thinking, and success in life!
At the same time, a friend of mine was taking another Sport Psychology course called Mental Training. In this course, the professor would often invite elite athletes to share their stories and experiences in training their mind to succeed in life and their chosen sport. One of these individuals was Ray Zahab, founder of impossible2Possible (i2P). He had recently finished his 7,500km run across the entire Sahara desert, and was sharing his incredible story with the class. Although I wasn’t there to hear him speak, I couldn’t get over the fact that someone had the mental strength & resiliency to run 70km every day for 111 days from Senegal to Egypt! After hearing about Ray’s journey I immediately bought his book “Running for my Life”. Everything about this book resonated with me, from the “Quality of Life” class, my passion for sports & physical activity, and the newly found concepts of positive thinking, self-fulfilling prophecy, and mental training. I reached out to Ray by sending him an email, simply saying “Thank you for your inspiration!”
To my surprise, Ray emailed me back immediately and said “Call me tomorrow,” followed by at least 20 exclamation marks! I could feel his passion, energy, and enthusiasm through the email. We met at a local Bridgehead Coffeehouse. Listening to him speak about his adventure in person was one thing, but when he introduced me to the newly founded impossible2Possible, I was floored! I’ve always wanted to become a teacher, and using adventure as a medium to teach just sounded so cool! I wanted to help out and support i2P as much as possible, and to be part of this incredible organization.
No doubt! Fast forward a few years later and you are now a key contributor and volunteer for i2P. Your role is the Social Network Advisor for i2P. What does a typical day look for you?
It varies day-to-day; I have to manage my time and responsibilities between teaching, ensuring all i2P social media platforms are kept up to date, and anywhere else I can help out with the i2P team. Other passions of mine have resurfaced during my time with i2P, and those are graphic arts, video editing, and website design. I’ve always loved anything to do with art and technology. On many of the recent i2P expedition websites, I have been involved in putting together content, brainstorming ideas, creating videos, and graphics.
Can you elaborate on the i2P Experiential Learning Programs?
The i2P Experiential Learning Programs, or the i2P Classroom, is an interactive and free adventure-based learning program that uses the theatre of adventure to build unique and education expeditions. It’s a global classroom! We usually host 3 expeditions a year – 2 Youth Expeditions and 1 World Expedition. On the Youth Expeditions, we select between 4-8 Youth Ambassadors between the ages of 17-21. They become instant peer role models as school children will be following and interacting with their every move on the expedition; tying their real-life adventure with classrooms from around the world with the use of live videoconferencing, daily photos, videos, an interactive website and curriculum. It’s essentially a two-way street of communication; a portal into the real world.
We believe that by placing these Youth Ambassadors in the context of extraordinary experience, they will push beyond what they ever thought possible, all in an effort to Educate, Inspire, and Empower thousands of students intently following their educational expedition. Their story, their decisions, and their inspiration all have a positive ripple effect on the participating students following through the expedition website and live videoconferences, showing them firsthand that anything is possible with the right mindset and hard work!
What is the next big Youth Ambassador adventure?
The upcoming Youth Expedition will be in Southern Utah, where the i2P team will have the rare opportunity to visit the interior of The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), while studying “Earth Science and the Rise of Dinosaurs”! The 5 Youth Ambassadors will attempt to run a marathon a day for 8 consecutive days across this remote and beautiful region in the US!
You had the opportunity to participate in the Expreso de los Andes World Expedition last year in South America. Tell us about your experience.
It was like a dream come true! I was so honored that they asked me to be part of the team! I had the chance to experience firsthand what a World Expedition would be like with Ray Zahab, Bob Cox, Kevin Vallely, and Dr. Greg Wells!
My role on the expedition revolved around multimedia, content production, and technology (i.e. photos, videos, satellite, etc). In addition, I was part of the support crew helping take down & put up tents, ensuring all the gear was ready to go, and logistics of the ensuing checkpoints.
I have to tell you my biggest lessons learned were resiliency, time management, and a positive mental attitude. If you can master the ability to be positive and manage your time through adverse conditions, you can accomplish so much more than you think you can! In an adventure like this there is no choice but to keep moving forward. There are plenty of moving parts that you have to manage and ensure everything is running smoothly.
What really grounded me was how down-to-earth and positive everyone was, especially under adverse situations. These are all ordinary people dedicating their lives to doing extraordinary things! For more information on the Expreso de los Andes World Expedition, please visit http://www.andesrun.com.
What’s next in your adventures with i2P?
This June I will be part of the World Expedition Gobi adventure, an attempt (not me!) to run 2,300km across the entire Gobi Desert in China & Mongolia. My roles & responsibilities will be similar to those in the Expreso de los Andes World Expedition. There will be so much to learn from the Mongolian people about desertification, and life in the harsh desert environment! Live broadcasting to schools and constant communication with students and the website will round out a “desertification” education program. In the final days, we will be joined by i2P Youth Ambassador Alumni! We are focusing all of our efforts on Youth Expedition Utah right now, but you can check out this trailer on World Expedition Gobi: http://www.vimeo.com/i2p/gobi
One of your favourite quotes on your Facebook Page is “Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream. I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been”. Where is this from and why do you like it?
It’s a lyric from my favourite band, Led Zeppelin! From their song “Kashmir,” it paints a picture of adventure, traveling the world, living through experiences, exploring all that life has to offer, and having absolutely no limits!
Thank you Jordan for taking the time to meet with me. For more information on i2P check out their website at http://www.impossible2possible.com