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Photo by Caleb Brooks

Namaste from your third Instructor!

Namaste friends!

My name is Lauren and I am one of your on-site directors for this year’s round of Bridge Year India, alongside Sarah Messner and Neerav Yadav.

I am writing to you from Flagstaff, Arizona. A few things that I love dearly currently surround me: books scattered about on the table, a fresh cup of coffee, and my one-year old puppy snoring in the sunlight on the floor. This morning as I sat down to write this introductory Yak to you all, I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of excitement and joy about our impending adventure together. As Sarah said in her Yak post, each of you has taken a gigantic leap into the unknown by signing up for this program, and I cannot wait to meet each of you courageous and brilliant souls.

A bit about me: I grew up in the sandstone desert and red dirt landscape of Northern Arizona. It has been here that I’ve learned to climb rocks, seek out secret canyons and winding paths to stunning vistas, and found that nature truly is my medicine for all ailments. I went to college for Science Education and taught for a few years in a traditional classroom setting. I learned quickly that my passion for teaching and joy of learning couldn’t be fully realized within the confines of classroom walls. I went back to school for my master’s degree in Sustainable Communities after a few years off, and focused my research on international and outdoor educational institutions and their ability to create ecological consciousness in students who participate. I am lucky to get to use some of these skills I learned during this time on a daily basis working with programs such as this.

The summer after my first year of teaching, I discovered experiential education and trip leading, and I was hooked. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to work with students from all over the world in some of the most amazing places on the planet. I’ve led courses in the South Pacific, Latin America, Nepal, India, Iceland, and the backcountry of the Southwestern United States. I have found that experiential education (and especially the kind of education we focus on with this program) is more authentic and fulfilling than any other traditional path we’re told to walk, and I am glad that you’ve all decided to take a year to experience this for yourselves.

My first journey to India was in 2012, when I went to complete a Yoga Teacher training course. I was stunned by India, in all the ways that one can be shaken out of their complacency and thrust into the rawness of being. What left the biggest impression on me was the people; the kindness I experienced on that four-month trip through India was unlike anything I had experience prior. I cannot wait for you all to discover this magic for yourselves in the next 9 months.

What I have learned from my years of travel, both personal and professional, is a deep humbleness and gratitude for the world and my place in it. I am honored to have the role of instructor on this course, but ultimately I feel like we are in this exploration together, and I cannot wait to learn alongside you as we venture into the unknown. I hope that along with a few good water bottles and sturdy hiking shoes, you’ll also bring an open heart, a willingness to be pushed out of your comfort zones, and an understanding that everything you experience this year will surely change your life. Expect to have your assumptions challenged, your boundaries pushed, to laugh harder than you ever have, to make life-long friends and breathe in deeply the boundless beauty of India.

I am so looking forward to getting to know each of you! Feel free to reach out with questions to my personal email address: [email protected]. I am so happy to answer last minute questions and queries about our upcoming journey together.

See you all so soon!