I started reading this book on my parents’ couch and ended it while sipping a freddo latte and eavesdropping on a spirited conversation in Greek, having traversed the very globe whose projections I was studying. Upon flipping to the Acknowledgements page, I returned to the start, hoping that the book magically transformed into part 2 of itself. But alas, I am only left with a deeper admiration for cartography, a better understanding of the accessories of my life, and an awareness of the things that evoke my cherished memories and imagination.
Archives: THINK Global School
While in Miami on official TGS business, I joined my friend Nick on a road trip to visit his grandmother in Boca Raton. We felt like doing something adventurous on our weekend off, and when a spontaneous trip to Cuba didn’t pan out (due to their visa restrictions, not ours), I decided to tag along for his mini-family reunion. The point of the trip wasn’t to craft a story or film anything; we were there to visit a lovely woman and enjoy some peace and quiet pre-Costa Rica. However, when we embarked on an exploration of the neighborhood in a retro golf cart, the inspiration flowed.
One of my favorite weekends involved a road trip to the Coromandel to celebrate Nick’s birthday at the newly-purchased home of Andrew McLean. We had a complete blast making music with melodeons and djembes, rebuilding bonfires on the beach, and eating crazy amounts of barbecued meats and veggies. I have never witnessed such a unified affinity for nature by a country. Through the channel of our local contact, it felt like we got a taste of this focus on the outdoors and the joys of sharing it with friends. I endeavor to adopt a little of this and take it with me wherever I go next.
I’ve been living in Auckland, New Zealand for the past two months, continuing my work with THINK Global School. New developments at work have incorporated leisure time for employees to travel within the school term. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit since February 2010, but thanks to the proximity, cost, and flexibility with work, that return to Nakavika is finally possible.
Just like my seniors, I feel it essential to start looking back at my time here, to gather my thoughts and understand the shift in my world view. I think I’ve grown exponentially here, not just through learning how to teach and communicate but learning how to think from the students and staff that make this a priority.
The most recent Word session was brought to us by the word “wax,” an option possibly inspired by the candle that sat close to the pieces of paper. This was what I came up with in that available hour.
Pushing my hand toward a different direction, Alex led me square off the mountain face, straight down the slope. One footstep would push wheelbarrows full of little volcanic rocks down, obscuring the switchbacks like a toothpick through latte foam. In seconds, I was meters lower without much effort at all. I was skiing! No… I was screeing!
With these white lies, it became clear to me that climbing Kilimanjaro is completely mental. My leg muscles didn’t burn the way I thought they would. Other than my head and belly, my body felt strong and fine. But an able body was not the most important need for continuing up that huge, dark, daunting incline. I turned off my mind to simply put one foot in front of the other and to encourage others to do the same.
The ascent presented quite a few debilitating challenges–sun exposure, wind exposure, high altitude, blisters, dehydration–but their effects were hardly visible in these teens. I witnessed incredible grit in those fifteen [former] students, none of whom were weathered mountain climbers nor even teenagers who’d had adequate sleep for the two months prior. They looked out for each other and pushed through the monotony to savor the specialness of the opportunity.
In January 2013, I traveled to Bhutan with 30 international students, only to come home with mass amounts of footage that couldn’t be condensed into a little web video. Fifteen months later, I screened a feature-length film from that trip to the students who lived it. (I was even able to share it with the Prime Minister of Bhutan and receive feedback!)
Semester at Sea impacts my day yet again :) Matthew Straub and I were on the S’07 voyage together, and a few years later, we discussed participation in The Nakavika Project after I returned from Fiji. I think having the common bond of SAS-hood inspires people to stay connected and communicative with other global and passionate people. Since chatting about potential collaboration on TNP, we’ve been in touch about ideas and our work.
The more wonderful people and places I encounter, the more difficult choosing causes becomes for me, and I can understand that you might as well find difficulty in extending much of yourself to this cause with so many other things begging for your support. That’s why I hope it feels entirely doable to you to simply follow them on Facebook and begin your engagement there. A message, a photo, or a “like” could be just the encouragement they needed for the next step.
From a state of unconsciousness to complete lucidity in three seconds, I sped to the realization that an earthquake challenges what I know to be true about my reality. A building trembling and swaying, a bathroom vibrating bottles off the counter, a need to brace myself between two beds …and none of this occurring on a ship, as I’ve experienced before. I was not at sea; I was very much on land.
Kerouac considered the beauty of the form to be in the process of painting a single moment as simply as possible in three lines of text. He often wrote in “Western haiku” form, which didn’t follow a strict 5-7-5 syllable equation. Since I’m not a fan of a creative process that includes the frequent counting on my fingers, I embraced this style and experimented yet again with the haiku, this time during a TGS club session called “Word.”
I wasn’t a part of the planning process for Kyoto, so every day presented new information and surprising activities I gulped up. The highlights included walking through a bamboo forest, watching chunky snowflakes coat the city, and our tea ceremony with a maiko, a geiko (or geisha) in training. I rolled my own sushi for the first time, which was a bucket list item, and I finally visited the orange gates captured in Memoirs of a Geisha.
It’s something I’ve trained for, feel born with an attitude and aptitude for, have developed strong passions for and a personality around. In its absence, I feel loss and incompleteness and greater pains than the ones it causes. It shapes the way I think about everything remotely related to it–turns me into a philosopher, a guru in a cave…in my own mind.
Arriving at the bus terminal, I turned right back around and got on the Portliner train to try and get as close to the ship as possible. Having not traveled with my passport, and knowing the insanely tight restrictions on boarding, I knew there was no chance of talking my way on as a nostalgic alumna. As I rolled closer, I snapped pic after pic of increasingly higher quality until I found myself face-to-bow with my former nautical home.
There are many reasons why SASers develop a lifelong love of the program and the vessel. For me, Semester at Sea changed the whole course of my life. I don’t know who I would have become without my round-the-world voyage in 2007. I certainly wouldn’t have met Garrett and Alexis, wouldn’t have felt strong enough to take my Big Journey, wouldn’t have aspired for the STA internship, and wouldn’t have landed in Japan today with my job at THINK Global School.
This post is a writing exercise, prompted by a quote from The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. This was done in unison with my students at THINK Global School during a travel writing workshop.
My third exploration of these Instagram collages is providing some great perspective on our time in India. Instagram images feel like highlights of daily joys, and usually a sum-up post of images from a place is a showcase of your best and most influential moments. Making a little visual quilt of the daily joys seems to weave the kind of fabric that makes sense to my mind and likely memorializes a place akin to how I will mentally.
While my job expects me to make high quality media, I also enjoy using social media to share the daily small joys that often don’t get a glossy coating. Using Storify, I curated a story of the previous year from my various online venues, resulting in the most ground level reflection of my experiences through Bhutan, Boston, and Hyderabad.
I started writing this blog post in February of 2012. Nearly two years later, I am able to look clearly at the progression of my job and see it within the larger context of my career and life. After applying for a job as a “Videographer,” I am now a teacher, producer, and temporarily wearing the shoes of an ed tech coordinator. I’ve always believed that travel expedites growth and maturation, and if that wasn’t clear to me in a professional sense before, it definitely is now.
Have you ever been on a trip that you knew was so special: every detail seemed divinely delivered, every moment one to journal about, every vision worthy of an Instagram? This was the sentiment possessed by all involved in our trip. Lazy nights spent huddled around the fire were coupled with songs or thoughtful talks about travel. Even in moments where the students were out of their element, up before dawn, freezing, or pushed to their physical limits on hikes, they were still so engaged. The usual shyness of students in need of filtering questions through their teachers to the guides dissolved after a half hour on the ground. The students loved Ashika.
Though my steam was running low by the end, the students and I agreed that the trip was a bit of a mental recharge to engage with where we were living. I spent many hours chatting with the students about their upcoming first graduation ceremony, gender inequality in India, and traveling solo as a female around the world. I pretended to be a guru in a cave on the train, accepting students into my lair (joining me in my double seat) for questions about life and happiness. My answers were usually, “Write about it!”
Open blocks to explore hundreds more, we feel strong
moving into a space we somewhat know, a city we sheepishly call
our home, from our hostel for the homeless.
Bulk home goods to crispy street food, we were happy.
Dirty lake walks to all-star city specialities, we were happy.
We were happy by choice, equipped with freedom
and company that subscribed to the daily magazine of discovery.
Regardless of the reasons why it didn’t happen, I know what I want: engaged students every step of the way. That investment in time must provide me immediate return, onto which I can bank that long term effects are plausible. I am building daily on a blueprint created many years ago, when a long trip provided me a clear life goal. Of course, I also must find ways to steady my mood and know I cannot control all the variables that allow a student to be an engaged one.
We burn fuel, and sometimes we observe where that takes us,
hypothetically hoping it’s toward patch-covered nirvana, an open mind
Regardless of the “where to” but focusing on the “so what”
What is travel, and what is a traveler?
Flickers of lightning are faint but always to the left of my aim toward the horizon. They provide an additional layer of drama to my nighttime ride home from the city of Hyderabad. I booked a taxi with the help of a Hindi-speaking friend, someone whom I quickly and liberally offered my trust purely on […]
One thing I am hoping to do is be able to create some great videos like these you’ve made for THINK. It’s hard because I have few opportunities to capture raw footage myself – only when a program happens to be somewhere nearby like D.C., but I want to get practicing! What kind of programs and equipment do you use? ANY tips you could offer would be so great. I know you’ve spent thousands of hours perfecting your craft just in the area of filmmaking – like I said, I have watched and read about your growth! I also know you are crazy busy, but I’d greatly appreciate any insights or lessons learned you have.
I am an investor in the ephemeral, that which could be gone tomorrow. This could be deemed true of everyone, but I feel arguably more conscious of the inevitable with the existence of my outbound flight. This ticket away from a nest makes me anxious, makes me analyze my underlying emotions, makes me draw connections to patterns, and makes me look at how those few constants affect me. The moon signifies change; it moves me away from an even keel of emotion and routine.
I found this idea while in Buenos Aires and used it to memorialize my little life in the Argentine capital. I tried it out again with the beautiful city and experience of Boston, MA.
Thought it wasn’t my first choice to attend virtually, it was my only realistic option, as I was deeply embedded in school on May 1st, the day of the event. But this was a big moment for me, a first exhibition for an art major and with deep significance in location at that. I wanted to be able to absorb these factors viscerally and emerge from the experience enriched and with the sense that I had exhibited work always meant for others’ eyes.
Vacation is when watery, oily, acidic
juices are plowed with crusty bread,
where butter comes in clumps and
goes down in littler ones, flavor bombs,
when you have time to pour the second
cup of honey with a punch of rose.
Aimless and timeless, there might be
no other method to managing a day for you.
Live tweets and retweets from the Fast Company Innovation Uncensored conference in New York City
In 2008, I learned about Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind from the father at my nannying job. Not one to chase fruitless endeavors, I knew he was recommending a quality read, especially since the recommendation came after the gushing of my worldview. Well, four and a half years and innumerable reminders later, I have finally checked this book off my “To Read” list. The following are the sections I highlighted and mused about in the margins, many of which I found to be unique sentences, others quite relevant to the constant questions I ponder at work.
I booked my ticket to St. Thomas a week prior to going, and one hour after I confirmed my flight, my friend from high school posted a photo of his current view from the same island. This friend, Merlin (the one person I always feel most likely to run into around the world), was in […]
My “Spring Break 2013″ does not yet resemble Harmony Korine’s visions of debauchery, but I’ve been enjoying this week, one unlike the usual work week. I decided that during this two-week break from school, I would relax in Boston and then use the second week to get closer to the sun. During this Boston-based break […]
I was recently reviewing my explanation of the term “nomadderwhere”…ya know, for kicks, because that’s what I do on Spring Break. Or, more accurately, I was looking for more meaning to go behind the sequence of my images for a photo exhibition. I began with the image I loved the most, because it’s the latest […]
1. I was able to seize a great opportunity to hear Al Gore speak (fo’ free!) at Harvard University. Always love a chance to hear troubling data about the planet in a Southern accent. That experience turned out to be the start of many great speakers in February, including two BBC World journalists, the exiled […]
This exhibition entitled “Far, Far Away” is a chance for some people in Wabash, Indiana to see destinations and cultures they otherwise might never see. Additionally, all the images were taken by people who claim Wabash as their hometown, adding a layer of accessibility to the images. The other person sharing the space with me will be showing many images from Antarctica. Just amongst the two of us, our images will span all seven continents!
While in Washington D.C. on a school trip, I used my moleskin notebook to record words and thoughts on speakers, visits, and work items. These are the words that repeated themselves.
Not only was this the longest time I’ve lived in an international city, it also happened to be a culture I fully embraced. Our impending departure pricked me in the last week, drawing up thick sentiment I could only process through creation. What could I make that would facilitate a meditation on a city that showed me a wonderful time?
On Friday evening, I was captivated by the oncoming snowstorm called Nemo that blanketed the city of Boston. From a perch overlooking the State House and the Boston Common, I could watch the sky darken and the air become increasingly opaque. Every 15 minutes, I captured a few seconds of the unfolding scene, ultimately mashing […]
Bhutan in the winter energizes the hunger for discovery that’s resident in children lucky enough to be young. It would take a dark closet for decades to produce this contrast anywhere else, the specialness clear with every sip of cold mountain air or gentle exchange. I can’t say this is what travel should always be, because it’s only through their unique set of occurrences that yielded such an outcome. But what they have set up, from my effortless post, has a wonderful effect. Wool is nowhere near our eyes, and we are learning individual lessons from the backgrounds we brought.
It’s cold, and my body begs to be energized beyond the limits of my water consumption; disregarding the extreme altitude difference, abused toes, conserved clothing, or painful, chapping skin. It’s the sloping of land that begs to be traversed. It’s Scotland. Switzerland. Bhutan.
Slow feet Slow eyes Slow decisions with little contemplation of options Nauseating excitement has slightly fermented into a smoother approach With time to wander the streets of Thimphu I mosey, no muscles or desires attempting to accelerate a slow discovery Light, open spaces, crowds, and amusing sounds I can’t remember but a handful of passing […]
On top of having a beautiful apartment in a central location, I lived with an hilarious roommate and part-time caterer with a debilitating case of FOMO. Together, we worked and played in this international city that showed us both its best and worst. It was the setting for incredible discovery at school and major learning moments personally. There are nail marks across our apartment floors and airport terminals where we refused to leave.
We live very clear chapters that can be qualified
and measured, compared to other chapters that may
or may not build off each other.
A place with streets I couldn’t even visualize
became my next one, and hopefully one connected
to the ones for the following pages.
Packing commences soon for the USA. Mental packing happens sooner. I had a little life here in Argentina. It will be remembered a little something like this.
I like telling stories around the world: in written form, through snazzy visuals, and from both experiential and academic perspectives. I would do this of my own volition (ahem, Nomadderwhere), but thankfully my job allows me to do this for pay every day. From time to time though, I also make marketing videos to give more context of this visionary establishment that houses such endeavors. Here are the latest ones of note.
Here’s hoping border crossings are all fresh. Visiting Uruguay a few weekends ago reminded me how lucky I have been to see different countries. I wanted to reflect my appreciation for a new place with a new video technique: light leaks.