We miss you dearly! 

We hope you’re settling back into your home lives, reconnecting with loved ones, and enjoying the simple pleasures like sipping matcha, indulging in your favorite workout, or cuddling with your pup. We trust that you’re finding joy in returning home as your most authentic self and staying true to who you are and who you want to be.

Remember, our TTS home is always here for you—maybe not as tangible as your home in the US is, but as real as the love you felt dancing on the salt pans or melting back into the comforting embrace during debriefs at ALA. You might not see or touch it, but our TTS home is here, and always will be.

From a distance, we’d like to share a reflection and a snippet of the gratitude that was expressed at graduation. Consider this just one more thank you for the presence and gifts you shared with us throughout our semester together.



I cannot believe it’s time to say goodbye to TTS39. In many ways, the semester flew by, it was a pleasure to be with such a thoughtful, insightful, kind group of humans. However, ‘flying by’ is not a fair representation of the effort, sweat, tears, curiosity, and commitment our students put into their time here, it implies too little intention. It’s hard to think about what to say to express my appreciation and gratitude for these people. So, I’ll let a wiser, less tired version of me say it. Here’s a little note I wrote for the students during midterms, around week 8, in the middle of a weird little German town in Namibia.

“An Ode to the Students

I love what you are, and I love what you aren’t. Your peanut butter, salti-crax fueled bodies have traveled so far. I revel in your joy, and I ache in your sorrow. You are here. You are normal. You belong.

Thanks for wrapping your arms around each other, around yourself, around me.

Breathe deep. Congratulate yourself for the journey and congratulate yourself for the fatigue, feel the weariness in your bones, and be proud of the energy it took to get here. So far, you’ve traveled hundreds of miles, had over 50 hours of study hall, seen a few too many baboons, been down a river, across a salt pan, up an ancient sand dune, taken showers in a range of water temps, gotten scary RRQ grades, managed to do laundry and brush your teeth (most days anyway), met a whole bunch of new people, said goodbye to most of them, hand wrote all your assignments, swept the truck, put your tent up, took it down, and supported the crap out of each other with YOUR main support systems being all the way across an ocean.

You’ve found little pieces of yourself along the way. You might not realize that yet, but I’ve watched you pick them up and check your reflection in them. You’ve been gracious, you’ve been patient, you’ve been honest, you’ve been tired.

And all this time, you’ve kept trying. I’m not sure you know how courageous that effort is, in it of itself. Maybe you’ve had moments where it feels like it’s too hard, too weird, or too much. But I know that you have what it takes. The core of you is good. It is curious. It is kind. I actually, truly, to the bottom of my heart cannot imagine being here with you. Without each of you and every part of each of you.

Thank you for being.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for being here together. “

Since then, we’ve traveling many more miles, doubled our study hall time, added a river and ocean to the mix, said some of our biggest hellos and goodbyes, celebrated holidays and birthdays, went backpacking and visited another whole country. And yet, every piece of this sentiment holds true, and I’m so proud of these students for digging in, finding their courage, and believing in themselves and each other to make it all the way to week 15, weary smiles as our best accessory. Hold them close for me.


Reading from Graduation: 

Dear TTS39, 

Thank you for one hundred and five groggy “manguanani”s, each more familiar than the one before. 

After “manguanani,” thank you for sharing one hundred and five breakfasts of sugary yogurt or deep fried eggs, followed by a slew of activities and classes designed to push you out of your comfort zone, into the unknown. 

Thank you for knowing that, and for showing up anyway. 

Thank you for showing up. For bringing your heart and what could fit in a duffel bag, and for flying halfway around the world with just that. Thank you for doing so, in order to give yourself the greatest gift anyone could ever receive – the chance to embrace adventure, challenge, to explode your world view, and to be part of a beloved community that you couldn’t yet fully envision. Thank you for giving yourself the gift of being raw and pure, for removing the things you could have hid behind. Thank you for giving yourself the gift of pursuing a feeling you might very well have had this semester – that feeling with red hair and bare feet in Cape Town – that feeling that looks like arms thrown back, that feels like tingles in your toes, that smells like peeling a clementine, and sounds like “yes.” 

Thank you for packing up your life and your heart into a duffel bag to give us the gift of YOU – yes, you – unique, cherished, and seen – you. This semester wouldn’t have been the same without you. We mean it. 

Thank you for showing up on the first day, and the thirtieth day, and the seventy-first day, and the one-hundred-and-fifth day.  Thank you for showing up on the day when it was easy and joyful. Like when we swam in the orange river or rode horseback in the Drakensberg mountains. Thank you for showing up with joy on that day and allowing it to squiggle and radiate out of your chest in bright, beam-ey lights that made everything a little more alive. 

Even more? Thank you for showing up on the day you wanted to go home. When homesickness was a billboard that blocked the sun. Or the day you were wilting outside your tent at Planet Baobab or blasted by sand at Ghanzi. Or the day you were so tired that even your teeth felt like they needed a nap.

Thank you for feeling that discomfort. For really feeling it. For looking it square in the eyes and speaking to it, or mulling it over in your mouth like clacking marbles, or telling us how it feels, or forming an opinion where you might disagree but  you never disrespect. Thank you for accepting that discomfort. Or taking it and shaping it in your hands until you liked the way it looked. That, right there, is bravery. Sitting with that discomfort, and making it work, and showing up again, knowing there will be more discomfort. 

Thank you for showing up on those days, and for seeing them through. So that you could grow to be… you. 

All of this is another way to say thank you for hanging out in that awe-inspiring space between two trapeze bars. That space that I’d describe as “yirah”, a Hebrew word for “fear and awe,” a word that describes occupying a space that feels bigger (figuratively, not literally) than it’s ever felt before. 

What do I mean by this space between two trapeze bars? To jog your memory, I’d like to reference the first paragraph of the “Fear of Transformation”, the story Morgan read in Swakopmund during that very special circle, and the same story Aunge shared with your families at home a week or so before your anticipated arrival. An excerpt says, “sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar or swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars. Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar- of-the-moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It’s empty, and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart- of-hearts, I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-known bar to move to the new one.” 

I read this now to say thank you for coming to TTS grasping onto one trapeze bar, allowing yourself to let go, and then spending much of the semester in that terrifying and exhilarating space between the bars. That space of yirah – awe and fear. Thank you for giving yourself permission to hang out in the transition between the trapeze bars. “It can be terrifying. It can be enlightening, in the true sense of the word. (but) Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.” 

In the beginning of the semester, It was probably hard to let go of that trapeze bar. I know it was for me. I knew that bar, I knew what the soft wood felt like on my hands. My callouses had grown perfect for this rung. I knew how to swing just enough to get some height before it became dangerous. I knew who was there to catch me if I fell. But that next rung? That one masquerading as 105 days of the unknown? No idea – it was terrifying. 

But we did it, each and every one of us, on our own time. We let go of that rung, and fear turned to exhilaration, which turned to a roller coaster ride of challenges and triumphs. Which turned to joy. And soon, we were soaring. Flying as a unit. Flying, just like Morgan said, like geese. 

Each day, you consistently flew together as a cohesive unit. Supporting one another involved taking turns breaking the wind, benefiting from each other’s lift, offering encouragement with honks from behind, and checking in when one faltered from formation, aiding each other until ready to rejoin.

Thank you for this. Thank you for the little things, the little moments, that are really not little at all. Thank you for making each other suspicious tea or oatmeal after evacuating from a forest fire. Thank you for sharing oreos with each other on the truck and laughter during bed checks. Thank you for spell-checking each other’s homework, for pouring yourself into Macy’s diamond dance. For commiserating about RRQs one moment, and then helping one another write their personal best in the next moment. Thank you for turning your individual “wardrobes” into one large wardrobe, showing up to breakfast every day in an outfit new to you and old to a peer.  Thank you for hugging and holding each other through sickness and stress in Swakopmund, for cheering on each other on your sweaty early morning runs. Thank you for singing about a moose at two in the morning, about “beee-youuu-ti-ful Africa while jumping off a rock into the Orange River, and about whatever happens under the mango tree. 

Thank you for flying together by allowing headlamps to be blasted at your face as we huddled around a circle and listened to your two minute life story. Thank you for trusting that we genuinely, truly wanted to hear more, and for sharing precious glimpses of your life with us. 

Thank you for lifting up one another in the air with acceptance, love, joy, and painstaking patience, the kind of patience that is only required of a group living in extremely close quarters, sharing everything, for one hundred and five days. 

Thank you for one hundred and five days of showing up, day after day, and seeing it through, and believing in you. For arriving as brave, confident young humans, and leaving even more so. 

Thank you for returning home with intentions to give, to share, to redistribute, and to empower. Thank you for giving us optimism for the future, because we know you will be writing it. 

Thank you for allowing us, the teacher team, the opportunity to learn alongside you and from you, and for giving us one hundred and five days to be proud of you for. 

Let the soaring continue, and may your next rung be exactly what you seek. 

~ The Teacher Team (aka geese acrobats specialized in trapeze arts) 


Finally, as you move forward into your next chapter, reaching for the next trapeze bar, we’d like to revisit “The Invitation” (below) with you once more. 

As you read The Invitation, we encourage you to acknowledge the tremendous gifts you already possess – the ones you shared with us throughout the entire semester – the ones that allow you to shout from the mountaintops – “yes, I have, I can, I will!” Do these gifts include the one the teachers highlighted for you on your “diploma”? Are they different? What are they? Do you risk “looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive”? “Can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments”. What are your countless gifts? How are you celebrating them already? 

As you read, we also encourage you to acknowledge where you hope to grow. You have no limits. Your capacity for growth, and joy, and the feeling you felt when it rained in Cape Town is endless. How do you want to continue growing? Do you want to be able to “see beauty even when it is not pretty every day?” Do you want to be able to “disappoint another to be true to yourself”? 

Whatever it is, you can make it happen. You’re already on your way. Tell us, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer