“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Originally posed by Mary Oliver in her poem “The Summer Day,” this same question is asked of 14 high school students in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. They have ventured here to examine the issue of climate change in the rainforest, while also digging deeper into themselves.
In February, 14 students from Colorado flew to the Peruvian Amazon. A week later they came back with a broader worldview, a deeper understanding of themselves, and in some cases a clearer direction for their future. We sat down with those students – who attend Polaris Expeditionary Learning School – to hear about their experience and what made it special for them. In some cases it was connecting with locals who’ve had few interactions with outsiders; in others it was overcoming barriers such as crossing a canopy walk suspended…
It’s twilight and the moon reflects on the river. Massive canyon walls surround us and echo the more than 10,000 cubic feet of water moving past us each second. I sit up on my Paco Pad, brush sand away and look across the 20 students still asleep in a cluster on the beach.
While the scenery of the Grand Canyon from a raft is inspiring on its own, Bobby found a more profound view this summer. It was a better view of himself and of his future.
How would you feel if you saw stars for the first time? Yes, the very first time. For Kelly, the feelings and emotions evoked by gazing up at something we all take for granted is still, six years later, hard to put into words.
One thing, above all else, awaited Miguel in Costa Rica. The ability to own his identity. But, he had no idea it would find him there in one of the most empowering and personal moments of his life. It was 2011 and the shy, reserved high school student had only traveled outside the United States once — to the Mexican town where his family is from. He never expected an international travel scholarship to be offered at his low-income school located in a particularly rough Oakland neighborhood. And while he was excited to see a new world, he knew…
When cancer robbed Tim of his strength and sight, a trip through the Grand Canyon and a moment at the river’s edge helped him get them back. Now, the No Barriers mindset keeps him pushing forward. When Tim was 15, T Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia nearly ended his life. Per doctors’ warnings, his family was by his side, ready to say their goodbyes.
If you were plugged in this September, chances are you saw the amazing kayaking blind journey through the Grand Canyon. Erik Weihenmayer and Lonnie Bedwell, who are both blind, navigated 277 miles of white water in what became a moving display of the power of the No Barriers Mindset.
When she connected science and the real world, a career began calling. When she connected with people outside of her Virginia neighborhood, it helped her discover herself. And when she connected international travel with her own sense of personal identity, it led her to people and place she’d never have imagined.
COSTA RICA - What can the plight of sea turtles teach a high school student uninterested in science? After the initial glow of watching a female turtle lay hundreds of eggs in the Costa Rican sand faded, two distinct feelings remained for Grace, a senior from a Chicago suburb. Passion. And depth.
I still remember hearing the worry and strife in the elders’ voices as they described the government’s plan to bulldoze through their remote community to build a road. It was the mid-1980s and I was a teenager on an extended family journey through the Fiji Islands. There in Cawaro, a community then only accessed by boat, villagers lived a traditional Fijian lifestyle. The road led to sandalwood groves that developers wanted to harvest. I felt the community's helplessness in the face of imposed development. Even though I had only…