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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Final Thoughts From Our Group, Part I

Dear friends and family,

As we began our transference, we had a heartfelt ceremony commemorating the things we have learned and the people we want to become. In the second part, students read aloud what they had written, and we as instructors asked if they would be ok sharing their writings with you, their broader communities. So, as your sons and daughters, friends and family members prepare to return home, here is who they want to become as a group:


Who I want to become is someone who exudes happiness and who legitimately cares for others no matter how hard it is to care for them. Someone who can make the right friendships and can make the decision to end harmful friendships. Someone who is more decisive, works harder, and constantly puts themselves in learning environments.


Things I would like to become:

  • A more open, loving person
  • More aware
  • More knowledgeable
  • Happier
  • In love
  • Adventurous
  • More “foodie”
  • More well-read
  • Things I want to keep from this experience that will serve me in the future:
  • Thinking about global impacts of actions
  • Honesty
  • Disconnectedness from social media and connectedness to conversation
  • Love of the outdoors
  • Choosing to spend time with those I love
  • Doing things for love—not for social convention or expectation
  • Smiling, laughing, loving, dancing, running, jumping, living out loud and with joy.
  • I want to embody a clear mind, seeking adventure, and open-mindedness.


Things I’d like to become:

  • A person who follows their heart
  • More mindful of who real friends are
  • More driven about school
  • A better brother and son
  • Love more
  • Be able to put my trust in people
  • Mindful of others’ feelings
  • A person that can be stronger in the face of adversity
  • More spiritually in-touch with my older brother
  • Speaking up against the face of oppression and harsh unnecessary judgment
  • Choosing for myself


I want to become:

  • A listener
  • A learner
  • A lover of friends and family
  • A conscious lover of myself
  • I want to me more curious and less judgmental. I want to understand where someone is coming from. I think in a lot of cases, that knowledge will only come from me.
  • Self-acceptance
  • Somebody who has more knowledge of what and who has influenced me
  • Knowing what my values for the future are
  • Hopefully more aware of the people I affect with each of my decisions.


I want to:

  • Be happy
  • Have joy, see the positive things
  • Have courage
  • Have values and stand up for my values
  • Feel love (for me, my family, friends)
  • Have deeper friendships
  • See the the world and all its colors
  • Show awareness
  • Decide
  • Spend time with my loved ones
  • Be creative and open-minded
  • Just do it more often
  • I want to become understanding, non-judging, and a better listener.


Things I want to (continue to) embody:

  • Recognizing & voicing my own priorities and desires
  • Embracing the unknown as a possibility for growth & learning
  • Focusing on emotional growth rather than perceived material gains
  • Generally be more conscious of the impacts of my actions, especially in regards to the environment
  • Finding more ways to be a “loving” person on the daily (how to people want to receive love?)
  • Incorporate happiness into the daily (what does it mean to be happy?)
  • Always asking questions
  • More singing
  • Standing up for my beliefs in actual practice, not just as some ideological ideal
  • Inviting the possibility of failure


I want to become someone who knows what she wants and is unafraid to pursue it. I don’t mean at the expense of others, or the environment, nor anything. I want to become someone who can build that bridge between that life I have and the life I at least have an inkling I’d like to lead. I’d like to become someone who can balance—between pursuing that life and my responsibilities to communities I am a part of, especially my family. I want to be someone who continues to learn every day, whose life is in alignment with my core values and whose ideals, dreams, morals, and actions are in alignment with each other. I want to do the good work the world needs. I want to become present in each moment. I want to be someone that inspires others to get free of unhealthy environments and know of or create alternatives (someone my past self could have used). I want to be free of mental blocks and insecurities so I can give and receive true love from and to myself, others, and the world.