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Greetings from Portland!

Mucho gusto! Me llamo Natalie Swope.

I was born in a small town in Michigan, but moved to the west coast when I was only a few months old. I’ve lived in the same house in Portland my entire life. If you’ve seen the show, ‘Portlandia’, I can confirm that a walk downtown surrounds me with Portlanders showing off tattoos, beards, and piercings.

Even within the city, my home allows me readily available access to nature. Only a few minutes from my house are trails which connect neighborhoods and destinations. I love seeing where the path takes me, and admittedly have found myself lost on more than one occasion. Soccer has also been apart of my life since I can remember. With both running and soccer, the combination of adrenaline and exhaustion channels my clearest thinking. I’ve participated in club soccer, high school soccer, and am currently on a co-ed indoor team with friends. Over the summer, I’ve been playing tennis for fun with my friends, camping, swimming, hiking, biking, and kayaking.

I try my best to stay up to date on social justice issues around the world. The past year has opened up my eyes to a variety of environmental justice issues, and I am fascinated by the intersectionality between climate change, race, socioeconomic status, gender and more. Or to put it more simply, how climate change affects people and also intensifies and provides insight into deeper societal issues.

I’m excited to try a “Sandwich de Chola” (aka Cholitas). Named after native Bolivian peasant women, this La Paz street food is stuffed with pork, pickled vegetables, garlic, onion, and carrot. Though I’m wary of the food carts, hopefully we can find a place recommended online.

Something that has helped me cram nine months into a backpacking pack and a day pack is a documentary which I watched about minimalist living. I meticulously look at everything I plan to bring and ask myself: does this add value to my life? Does this bring me joy? If the answer is no, I have to accept letting it go. Another lesson was how we must all learn to better love people and use things, rather than vise versa. In my few days left at home, I aim to cherish my time left with close friends and family. I’m excited to get to know everyone on this journey as we all discover a new place to call home.

¡Estoy tan entusiasmada de conocerles!