Punzabo Winner Discovers the Beauty of Friendship in Maui (July 2009) | My Family Travels

The winner of the July 2009 Punzabo Award (and $100) is Arielle Pardes. Her story, “Whispers of a Summer on Maui,” was the highest rated article on travelBIGO for the month. With vivid descriptions of Maui’s natural landscape, Arielle, then 14-years-old, recounted a trip with friends that had a few mishaps, but still reinforced the power and love of their friendship.

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Arielle, now 17, is grateful that she had the opportunity to grow up in such a big, but safe and family-friendly, city with so much to do. She explained, “I grew up with the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and Legoland all within arm’s length.”

Starting her senior year at the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts, Arielle has had the opportunity to take classes that go beyond the standard high school education. Arielle said, “I have been going there since sixth grade and I’ve taken everything from ballet to musical theatre.” Currently, her favorite courses include a creative writing class called Writer’s Workshop and Journalism. In both of these classes Arielle has a leadership role; she is President and Editor-in-Chief, respectively.

Although her plans for the future aren’t solid, Arielle is certain that she wants to write. She revealed, “It’s hard to pin down exactly what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, but I do know that I want to continue writing. Whether it’s journalism, fiction, poetry, reviews, or essays—I know I’m going to be writing for a long, long time. It’s the only thing that makes sense.”

And making this plan come to fruition already, Arielle is currently interning at a law magazine called The National Jurist. Happy with the position, she said, “I don’t get to do very much writing, but I’m learning a lot about journalism!”

Also, while college plans have not been nailed down yet, Arielle knows that she wants to attend university at an Eastern School. She explained that she has lived in California her whole life and wants to experience something new.

But until then, Arielle has continued to use travel to gain new experiences. This summer, she spent a week in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Like a true wordsmith, Arielle describes her trip, “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been: rippling purple mountains, clear blue skies, and completely star-studded nights. Every morning, we could see the sun rising over the Blue Ridge Mountains and illuminating the sky until it turned into that famous ‘Carolina blue’ color. It was gorgeous.”

As for being selected by her peers as the July Punzabo winner, Arielle is incredibly humbled. She said, “I love to write, and it’s especially cool to win an award for an article about such a meaningful trip. My two best friends, who took the trip with me, were stoked when they heard the news.”

Help pick next month’s winner (Punzabo Award rules for travel journal) by rating all the stories you read on travel BIGO. And remember, you can be next!

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