While many in the states were focused on the Super Bowl, TTS35 strutted into their semester full of curiosity, intention and open minds, ready to receive their first passport stamp of the semester. After a long day of travel, with a quick hop over in Bogota, the ladies collapsed into hostel beds on the outskirts of Quito in the wee hours of the morning. The morning sun greeted us and splashed the diverse skyline with bright colors, buildings in the distance, mountains and more. Allie pointed out Quito, Pinchincha volcano our route to Mindo and the way to the Amazon. And then we were off up, over and around windy roads, crossing back over the equator before entering into the lush cloud forest and our quaint hostel.

The first five days have flown by – filled with orientation activities and games to serious talks about risk management, expectations and how to be a successful traveler. Classes started on Wednesday and the first homework was collected last night. As well, we’ve had some PE classes, including a friendly soccer game with some local youth, which I heard was quite hilarious. We have enjoyed copious amounts of local foods – bright, tangy juices with breakfast, slightly spicy aji sauces to dash over lunches and dinners, which begin with tea, include grilled chicken (or veggies), yuca, rice and always a small dessert to curb our sweet tooth.

Today is the first major re-pack. We’re headed into the jungle for a mini-expedition. Can’t wait to learn about the plants, animals and farm to table philosophy.

One notable assignment the girls completed this week was a letter to their future self – 15 weeks from now. After spending time thinking about settling into and experiencing a new way of life, teachers asked everyone to reflect and set intentions. These letters are personal and are now sealed until May, but they also prepped their thoughts by creating a personal mission statement. Enjoy the words below from TTS35!

 

Sophia

My mission is to find more leadership within myself and to discover more about myself and others.

My vision, what it will look like when I find success:

  • Learning perspectives
  • Communication Strategies
  • Experiencing new-found adventures
  • Learning about South American culture
  • Discovering traits of being an engaged learner

 

Zoe S-H

My mission is to deepen my knowledge, understanding and community in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. By the end I want to have a strong focus on creative writing, visual arts and textile arts as an expression of my emotions, identity and self.

My Vision:

  • For Global Studies I plan to present at the Art Students League of Denver to share my newfound knowledge about Latin American art and expression.
  • Create a portfolio or selection of my art while on semester.
  • Use local resources to learn more about the communities we travel through
  • Combine my identity and personality with my discoveries in Latin America in my work and writing.

 

Bella

My mission throughout this semester is to return home with an emboldened sense of who I am and my relation to the rest of the world and to never forget the intellectual journey I am about to experience.

My vision is that The Traveling School will foster an amazing group of young women. Through this I envision myself more confident and driven to create change in my community based on the experiences and academics that The Traveling School provides me. I know this will be an experience that, when looking back on, will be an integral part of who I will be in the future as well as the path of my career and the communities I choose to encounter and help.

 

Anonymous

I want to take in every fragment of this experience even in the face of discomfort so that I can leave South America more confident in my ability to take on any challenge I may face.

When I return home in May, I hope to:

  • Ask more questions
  • Be hungry for more perspective and knowledge
  • Be okay with being uncomfortable
  • Have the confidence to navigate unfamiliar situations

 

Isabel

My mission is to learn and grow in ways that wouldn’t be possible at home, to see the world through a new lens and become immersed in the culture and language of South America.

My vision is to improve my Spanish by not being afraid of making mistakes, actively participating in class, and listening to native speakers who surround me. I want to grow as both a human and life-long student by being open-minded to new experiences and learning from anything that happens. I want to see the world through a new lens (tossing my glasses aside – just kidding ) by challenging my own beliefs, biases and perspectives on the world. I hope to have fun, make friends and be myself while being open to change, trying new things and remembering with every down there is an up.

 

Zoe L

My mission is to become a stronger, more self-aware woman who can say “no” more and “sorry” less. My vision is to instill confidence, foster community and learn to let go. Be engaged. Be present. Be childish.

 

Kate

Kate strives to improve her Spanish skills, to have a better cultural understanding of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and learn to embrace Type 2 fun.

By the end of the semester…

I would like to have life-long friends

I will be more confident in Spanish

I will be more independent

I will love to learn again!

 

Jenna

My mission is to grow and gain a new perspective while being abroad with The Traveling School and to become more open-minded and open-hearted. My vision is to return home with an expanded mindset and with new unbelievable experiences.

  • Inspired to learn
  • Comfortable being uncomfortable
  • Life-long friendships

 

Sadie

My mission is to find clarity in myself and my purpose in this world, grow my character and my independence as a young woman. My vision is to:

  • Push myself academically, physically, mentally and socially
  • Maintain a steady open-mind
  • Be aware and curious of myself and my surroundings
  • Approach everything I do with intention and thoughtfulness

 

Maya

I intend to learn life lessons, meet different people, learn about myself and to grow close to my TTS35 family.

 

Abby H

My mission is to gain understanding of how to live my life in the most beneficial way I can for myself as well as others.

My vision is to make the most of situations I may not find deep enjoyment in; to not assume anything about others and not to set off on this journey with unrealistic expectations.

 

Ari

This semester I want to be continuously pushed out of my comfort zone, I want to take risks and I want my story of Latin America expanded and crushed at the same time in thousands of directions all at once. I want to be opened up by my own awareness and learn to reach out to those around me. When I return to the U.S, I hope to have gained confidence in my ability to brave the fear, unknowns and challenges I will face. I hope to have the walls in my heart and barriers in my mind undone through my thorough acceptance and acknowledgement of them.