An interview with Chloe Loeffelholz, TTS Development Manager and TTS26 Alumni

Ava Swanson (she/her) is a performer and songwriter based in Nashville. You can keep up with her sound and story via Spotify and Instagram. Ava also works at The MLC, a non-profit organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office to distribute digital mechanical royalties to songwriters. In other words, Ava helps songwriters get paid! Read on about how The Traveling School influenced Ava’s path. 

How did your Traveling School semester impact you?

The Traveling School (TTS) ignited my passions for social and environmental justice, which have radically shaped my education and core values. After TTS, I was deciding whether to go to music school or to study at a more traditional college. Owing to TTS’s influence, I decided to attend Quest University, an interdisciplinary school that enabled me to weave political science and sociology into performance studies.

TTS taught me to make connections across various experiences and courses, synthesizing all of my learning into a vast and complex web of understanding. My Quest degree was a perfect extension of that learning style, and together my TTS & Quest education informs how I move through my day-to-day life.

In what contexts does The Traveling School come up in your life now?

TTS made me a confident and voracious traveler. Since my semester, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to attend college in Canada, study Spanish in Columbia, attend graduate school in Spain, backpack around Europe and Southeast Asia, and tour around the United States.

I carry my Traveling School sensibilities with me everywhere I go; I still use my same bright yellow duffel bag, I chat with locals, I remember my self-defense techniques, I read books from the area I’m in, I seek unique adventure, I appreciate rare beauty. I’m so incredibly thankful that TTS taught me to move through the world in this way

What specific lesson or experience from your semester sticks with you today?

Early on in my Global Studies class, we learned about Paul Farmer’s notion of “reading the world”; a practice of observing and analyzing the world around you through a critical lens. This single lesson has stuck with me ever since, inspiring me to truly notice the world around me, ask thoughtful questions, and seek to understand why things are the way they are. As I mentioned in a previous answer, this practice not only shaped my continuing education, but is also still a part of my everyday life.

Can you draw any lines between what you are up to now and what was sparked for you on TTS?

I brought a tiny guitar with me to TTS, and wrote song after song about all that I was experiencing and learning during my travels. I’m still doing the same thing today, using songwriting as a tool for unpacking and expressing my experiences in the world.