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Welcome from Nikki!

Greetings, new Dragons!

In just a few weeks, we’ll begin our journey together in the golden land of Myanmar.  What an incredible time this is to visit and learn from a place and people in a moment of remarkable change!  As the barriers of travel and communication on our planet keep shrinking, it is a gift to travel far and be welcomed into homes, communities, and temples that remind us just how much diversity and strength there is in this still-enormous world.

I am excited to join Siang and Parker on the instructor team in Myanmar this fall!  It is an honor to be working alongside two talented and passionate people with such depth of experience and gifts to share. We are collaborating to plan a transformative adventure full of fun, inspiration, learning, and memories that will shape your worldview and accompany you into your future.

I first visited Southeast Asia in 2014, and I was swept off my feet by the richness of culture, spirit, and beauty I found there.  After an enchanting semester backpacking through Cambodia and Laos, I cancelled plans for onward movement and went back to sink into life in a rural Cambodian community.  There, I had the good fortune to live in a little jungle camp with a group of big-hearted wildlife rehabilitators and explore the jungle and culture up close.  No previous travels prepared me for the magical world I found there.  From food, to language, to laughter, with ancient history and powerful stories between, everything about Southeast Asia is rich, layered, fascinating, and full of the complexities of life.  My heart swells when I count the days until we all join there together!

Like Parker, I am new to Myanmar.  I am excited to dive in with you, to see and listen and learn, to laugh over small mistakes, and to breathe in everything Burmese culture has to offer.  This is such an extraordinary time to be in Myanmar, to talk with mentors, to curiously observe, to learn with our hearts, and to return home changed, bigger, more compassionate, and inspired.

I am happily looking forward to meeting all of you and discovering the community we will create together. Each of you arrives not with just a backpack and big dreams, but with a lifetime of experiences, ideas, passions, and perspectives that will guide and inform the paths we take together. I can’t wait to discover your questions, your insights, and your wisdom.

My path has included teaching, park rangering, and outdoor adventure, all shaping my career as an educator, guide, and all-around enthusiast. My favorite way to explore a new place is through nature, meeting the plants, the mountains, the rivers, and the people who know them most intimately. Traditional relationships with nature profoundly shape not only the food and medicine of a culture but its language, values, religion, politics, and developing role in the globalizing world. I look forward to venturing with you into the spectacular natural places that await us as we commune with them and the people who call such places home. We will have opportunities to absorb the energy of ancient lands, catch a glimpse of their sacred histories, and experience the teachings of the world’s changing relationship with natural resources and commerce. We will immerse in place and people as one.

As you prepare for our journey, checking off lists and setting things in order, be sure to step back, open your eyes and heart, and truly see the place you are in, the people you are with. Treasure this time, and store it away. Such presence is key to connecting with new cultures just as it is key to appreciating your own. However you are preparing for this journey, we haven’t long to wait anymore.

I am packing my bags, enjoying late summer rainbows in Colorado, and looking forward to meeting you all.

Yours in learning,

Nikki

[This photo is of myself with a talkative Hill Mynah in Cambodia, a bird that never quite got the hang of being wild once he was released.  As the first monsoon rains of the year thundered in the sky above us, he landed for a good grip on my hair and refused to leave until fat raindrops scared him into the trees.  In addition to a stunning richness of culture, we will encounter spectacular natural places on this journey.  I look forward to sharing them with you!]