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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

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Welcome to our forum for courses in the field. The Yak Board is a digital group journal where students and staff share photos, stories, reflections and group updates while on course. Check out our Featured Posts below or explore Yaks by program by clicking on the icons above.

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How to Hike the Grand Canyon

Aaron Serianni, Participant

Picture of the Week

Bring Water! The Grand Canyon is a desert, and even though it is only spring, the sun is hot and bright, and thus it is easy to become dehydrated. For a day hike, 3 liters of water is necessary, 4 is preferred. For 16 people, we brought 55 liters of water, and we still only had just enough to get out of the Canyon! The Colorado River is the perfect vessel to carry water through western North America and three distinct deserts: the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts. The dry air above these deserts draw in moisture from the Sea… Read More

Rio Grande Semester - Group A

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10 Things I Learned On Our First Trek

Laura, Participant

Yak of the Week

After reflecting on our first trek through Big Bend State Park, and as our second trek on the Continental Divide Trail approaches, I think it is important to reflect on what I personally learned the first time around. They say that making mistakes......Read More

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A Borderless Passover on the Border

Jane, Izzy, and Tyler, Participant

Yak of the Week

How does one find matzo in west Texas? The answer is, you don’t. While preparing to make 64 pieces of homemade matzo for our Passover Seder, the doorbell rang, and a small miracle arrived: five pounds of matzo that we had overnighted in a fit......Read More

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Poems from the Borderlands

Ella and Josh, Participant

Yak of the Week

Did You Know? by Josh 25 feet tall. 16 feet underground. Dirty, rusted metal. Barbed wire, but only on the United States side. Did you know? Did you know that red, beaten bottle caps litter the Borderlands between the United States and Mexico? Did......Read More

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New political awareness from the coolest...

Elle Morris-Benedict, Participant

Picture of the Week

Our departure from the surreal hospitality from our hosts Marty, Ralph, his two sisters and our home in El Paso was difficult, yet exciting to begin the next leg of our journey. We met up with Angel Peña and a few of his friends who help him run a local nonprofit; Nuestra Tierra, which focuses on giving a platform for overlooked communities to voice their concerns on land conservation. We explored natural hot springs along the Gila river and took in his extensive knowledge on archaeology, even finding thousand year old ceramic shards within a fifteen minute walk of our… Read More

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Photos from the Black Canyon

Instructor Team, Instructor

Picture of the Week

The group finished up their 5 day excursion on the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on Saturday evening and are making their way to Patagonia, AZ where they will start working with the Borderlands Restoration Network this week. Here are a few photos from their canoe trip!

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Poems from Payahǖǖnadǖ

Noah, Participant

Picture of the Week

Hi Everybody. We are headed to the border right now, but I have a couple poems that I wrote while we were in Owens Valley. I hope you like them and the photos that I’m adding with them.   Mother He knows not of what is right From the seedlings of the stars, I have seen him grow Expanding and spattering like ants on a hill He knows not of his doings A firefly no longer with its light Lost in the dark of night “It’s all in the plan.” he says But knows not of my watching Always Steady… Read More

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What the River Has Taught Me

Izzy, Participant

Yak of the Week

Last week, our group finished a five day canoe float through the Boquillas Canyons in Big Bend National Park. After the eight-mile-a-day treks in the State Park with our heavy backpacks and blisters, these five days paddling on the river felt......Read More

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The River Becomes A Line

Maddie, Instructor

Yak of the Week

It’s dark now in McAllen, Texas and for the first time in more than two weeks, we’re sleeping indoors. We’ve cracked the window open and the air slipping through is warm and humid. Tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico just an hour......Read More

Rio Grande Semester - Group A

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The Real Rio Grande

Jane Singman, Participant

Yak of the Week

A quote I have tried to live by for most of my life, and one that is especially relevant on this gap semester is: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” I think this quote has been a good guiding principle......Read More

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The power of storytelling

Ella, Participant

Yak of the Week

On March 6, we stopped on our long drive between camping sites to visit a place called Manzanar. If you’ve never heard of it, Manzanar was one of ten sites of Japanese incarceration in California, now the destination of a pilgrimage founded by......Read More

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Thoughts from Owens Lake

Aaron, Participant

Yak of the Week

Imagine standing on the edge of a lake, blue water stretching on for miles to the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, being fed by the snow melt high above. Trees litter the shores, and maybe a whirling mass of migratory birds cloud out the sun......Read More

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Moby Dick

Celie, Participant

Yak of the Week

I woke up on Thursday morning in time to see the sun rising between the walls of Boquillas Canyon. “Our energy on this boat trip is finna be real chaotic” – Willow After breakfast Willow and I packed up our stuff and loaded it into our......Read More

Rio Grande Semester - Group A

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A New Understanding of Our Relationship to Land...

Sally, Participant

Yak of the Week

“I gathered a couple gallons from the tinaja. A gift. I tried to take this with my head down, and I worried that my disinterested taking of measurements might not be the proper response to something giving me life. I paused there thinking of......Read More