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

Macy Aikman (she/her) is a high school senior from Vermont and a recent alumni of The Traveling School’s 39th semester in southern Africa. With her semester concluding just a few months ago, Macy shared what learning means to her now, the impact of intentional community, and advice for prospective students.

How did your Traveling School semester impact you?

My semester showed me the dramatic difference between learning to understand the world and learning to get a grade. I learned so much about myself as an individual through how I function in a group. I was able to notice what my relationships looked like with everyone and reflect on my interactions to figure out how to find the balance between taking care of myself and other people. It gave me the confidence I needed for college and the rest of my life of coexisting with new people.

I also returned home with a completely new appreciation for my support system and community. It took the absence of so many comforts (as well as all of the new, very close relationships that I built) to realize how greatly I was supported and loved back home.

What surprised you about your semester?

How much I was able to learn about Southern Africa. Until I stepped off of the plane, I had a blank spot in my head when I tried to set expectations for myself. Nothing could have prepared me for what the next 105 days would bring.

With all of the people that we met, things we learned, places we visited, and experiences we had, I was able to craft a completely new understanding of that part of the world without it being dictated by media or stereotypes.

How did TTS shape your understanding of community?

My semester showed me that community is unconditional. The teachers and other students on my semester were all so invested in fostering a community where everyone was close with everyone. There was so much enthusiasm to love and support everyone equally. The result was a community that was able to listen to each other and exist in those crazy adventures while feeling unconditionally understood.

Any advice for prospective Traveling School students?

Come prepared and enjoy every small moment of feeling alive on your semester. It’s a rare opportunity to have no technology, a loving community, amazing opportunities, and incredible things to learn all at the same time. For me, recognizing the moments where I was loving life so much, made it that much more life changing.