For many high school students, prom typically involves flower bouquets, scouring the internet or local thrift stores for the perfect attire, and dancing the night away in the school gym. While all of these elements can be a fantastic time, TTS took a different approach, as we often do. TTS 40’s prom took place on the vast and breathtaking Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia.

This two-day extravaganza began with a road-trip adventure. Students embarked in Land Rovers through expansive mountainous landscapes adorned with volcanoes, surreal rocky terrains reminiscent of another planet, and lakes surrounded by majestic mountains where flamingos gracefully roamed. A particularly memorable moment occurred at the flamingo lake, as students strolled along the banks carefully avoiding flamingo eggs before indulging in a delicious hot lunch of chicken, rice, veggies, and juice.

On the second day, after a quick stop at Uyuni’s famous “train graveyard”, a shorter journey led the students to the salt flats themselves. The seemingly endless expanse of white landscape left everyone in awe, inspiring a frenzy of goofy perspective pictures and videos. Accompanied by their fantastic guides armed with an array of props, from rubber dinosaurs to Pringle cans, the experience was truly unforgettable. Venturing further, they encountered a section of the flats still covered in a shallow layer of clear water, providing the perfect canvas for witnessing the renowned “world’s biggest mirror” effect that Uyuni is famed for. As the sky reflected perfectly on the salt flats, students celebrated with more pictures, crowned prom royalty, indulged in sweet treats, and danced to music blasting from their tiny portable speaker as the sun dipped below the horizon. Splashing in the salt flats, they transformed it into the largest prom dance floor imaginable. Once the sun had set entirely, the group hopped back in vans and headed back to the hostel for a pizza dinner. 

Without a doubt, it was a joyous, affectionate, and memorable experience for all involved. Truly a prom to cherish! Keep reading for students’ reflections on their unforgettable prom night, followed by a sneak peek at what’s in store for the rest of the semester, along with captivating snapshots from the salt flats. 

– Arden

Click on each photo to enlarge:

Student’s Reflections: 

Write about a moment you felt love! (For each other, yourself, earth, TTS, etc): 

  1. After the best prom ever with so much fun dancing and taking photos on the salt flats, when my car drove back we used my speaker (thanks dad, best speaker ever) to blast some chill music as we rode with the windows down staring at the stars. Staring at the stars, singing and seriously vibing to our favorite songs, and just feeling the love of my friends was the perfect ending to the perfect night. -Kate
  2. During prom- seeing all of these beautiful girls who I’m lucky enough to be able to love all dancing and smiling and laughing together- hearing kate say that her cheeks hurt from smiling and looking over to see 13 girls who were all strangers 2 months ago who I love so so so much just truly be happy.
  3. The time when Camden yelled “this is a moment” as we all were all running towards the sunset on the salt flats and then into a giant group hug, everyone was truly there in the moment. This made me really appreciate how far we have come and still have to go but at that moment it was just filled with love each other and appreciation for the little moments. – Katherine
  4. “In my women,” the name of my Lana Del Ray inspired playlist – never have I felt so ‘in my women’ than the drive back to our hostel, post prom on the salt flats. Picture this— four girls, heads out windows stargazing as we sing our hearts out to the sweet sound of “Summertime Sadness.” Beauty is the only word to come to mind when describing this night, the beauty of my girls,  beauty of being a woman, and of course the beauty salt flats and the start night sky. I will never forget this night.  – Maeve 
  5. I didn’t know what I expected prom to be like. I was told it was going to be on salt flats (how were we going to party it up on salt flats??), I didn’t know when said prom was happening, and get this — we were going to be wearing big heavy rain boots…what was this going to do to my outfit?? But after a long day taking pictures and simply gazing in awe at the inspiring expanse of white, we arrived at our prom location. A thin layer of water covered the salt giving an ethereal feel to the landscape.  We spent the next hour taking even more photos. I think we could all feel that this was a last moment. We wanted to capture it, hold it tight, and never let go. That night was magical… we spent it twirling, stomping, and twerking. If you’d been there watching, you would have seen silhouettes intertwined, jumping up and down, running towards the sun simply because what else can you do when there’s so much emotion inside? You would have, along with the salt, tasted our laughter, giggles, and shouted lyrics carried on the breeze. If you’d looked closer maybe you could have felt the bittersweet tears caught in many of our throats. The powerful happiness wafting from us marking that we’d made it. We’d gained the freedom and comfort to dance our heads off with each other. Finally we’d become a whole happy family. We wanted to bottle up the moment, hold it tight and never let go. -Claire 

Write about your favorite moment from prom:

  1. Who has ever heard of anyone doing the Cotton-eyed Joe? Well TTS has and as one of our prom dances, we decided to live out the ideals of every American prom and perform for our guides! -Camden
  2. A dance circle is a must for any prom—and TTS40 did not disappoint. With 24k magic blasting from Kate’s speaker we danced sending salt water everywhere. Jenna came in with the sprinkler. The crowd went wild. Our guides looked on with expressions I can’t quite describe—a mixture of concern and laughter. I bet that they haven’t seen many groups throw their prom on the salt flats. -Tula
  3. I loved taking portraits of people on the flats, everyone looked really good 🙂 -Olive
  4. Seeing everyone dancing! -Ryan

Write about a moment you ate something delicious: 

  1. Right before prom we drove to a more remote place to take some perspective pictures. This also provided opportunity for a little snack- Adelaide and I had had previously agreed to lick the salt flats so that’s exactly what we did! The only thing I can describe it as is salty!!! -Camden
  2. The gummy bears at prom :’) -Ryan

Write about a moment you thought “what is happening?! How am I here??” 

  1. I was obviously in awe the second we saw the salt flats, but when we started dancing I really realized wow we are having prom on the Uyuni Salt flats right now. This prom and all of us having so much fun with so much love for each other was really my “I made it” moment and this night really made TTS 100% worth it. -Kate
  2. That one time we saw flamingos in the Bolivian salt flats?? -Adelaide
  3. This one time we were just casually on the salt flats and we went to this place for lunch that was just casually completely made of salt and I was putting salt on my quinoa WHILE sitting on a chair of salt WHILE in a building made of salt that was ON THE SALT FLATS. It was sweet. – Chloe
  4. Head out the window of a land cruiser, looking up at the stars, while an endless white expanse stretched out around us. -Tula 
  5. At the salt flats, taking stupid perspective photos and eating lunch in a salt hotel and having prom on the salt flats. Just surreal! Crazy to me that I could’ve just been in math class right now. I’m sooooo lucky.

Write about a moment you felt challenge:

  1. I got Bolivian flamingo poop on my hiking boots and I can tell it’s exotic because it’s refusing to come off-totally worth it tho! -Chloe 


No specific prompt:

TTS promised we would travel to remote lands but no one ever mentioned that we would go as far as the edges of the universe. It’s true. We think Uyuni is in Bolivia but if you ever go you realize how much of a lie that is. It’s hard not to stare at the sun that sets behind an endless vastness of salt. It is not possible for the brain to understand just how far it truly is so we look at the sun even though we know we should not. When our brain finally kicks in and we look away you are struck by the water just 3 inches over the salt. It’s hard to believe it is not a lake and that 1000 meters out drops to the deaths of the world. The mountains in the back. My brain was not one of an alien and hence could not comprehend this world, an almost sad truth. A different perspective. I tilted my head to the side like a dog that is so confused it seems to turn into a human for a split second. Spaceships floating in the sky. I have been to the sky, the moon, the outer limits of the universe and yet still just a 10 hour travel day away from my home. See y’all soon, Aliens, friends, and parents alike. -Cambyr Skade

And what’s on the horizon? Wrapping up finals, going on our final four-day, three-night high-altitude Andean expedition with an all-women trekking company (that recently went viral on social media), and diving into transference! “Transference” is something TTS prioritizes every semester to ensure that students are as prepared as possible for their transition back to their home communities (or their new home communities). Transference includes revisiting activities like “Hopes and Fears” and addressing culture shock — this time about going home — along with opportunities for students to reflect by writing another letter to themselves, crafting their own final mentor comment, and expressing gratitude to one another while processing the significance of this semester! – Meredith