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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

!Una cálida bienvenida¡

!Una cálida bienvenida¡

Let me begin by saying how excited I am to be entering into this amazing journey with each of you. In just a few weeks, we will embark on the adventure of discovery; the discovery of self, place, nature, and community. As we lean into these new experiences it’s likely that our senses will be heightened. Our eyes will widen as we begin to see our paradigms shift, our ears will open and absorb the sounds of Pachamama and her children, our sense of smell will guide us to sweet and savory moments, our sense of touch will help us feel connected to the world around us, and we will likely notice that this experience will give us a taste for adventure. My advice to everyone, including myself, is to embrace this heightened awareness for it is these brief moments that help to define us over our lifetime.

As a teenager I was lucky enough to be homeschooled for a short period of time while I travelled along the coast of Baja California with my family. Being a naturally shy teenager, I was timid towards the people I met and my surrounding environments which made the first few weeks of that trip uncomfortable. Luckily, my mother pulled me aside early on in the trip to remind me to lean into these rare opportunities because we are only granted a moment once. Now, fifteen years later, I find myself leaning into new opportunities with excitement and fervor. It is leaning in that led me to reinvent myself in the place where I now call home (Colorado), and it is leaning in which made me recognize my love for teaching and learning from both students and co-instructors.

My life as an outdoor educator began in 2015 when I was hired as an Adjunct Instructor for Colorado Mountain College after having worked as a Park/River Ranger for the State of Colorado for many years. My formal education in Sustainability Studies and Natural Resource Management coupled with my informal education from life and work experiences has guided me to this very moment of sharing an introduction of myself with you all.

I won’t share much more about myself right now as we will have plenty of time to learn more about each other here in the very near future, but before I sign-off I would like each of you to think of a time when you leaned into an experience. What was the outcome? What would you have changed?

I truly look forward to meeting each of you soon and learning more about how your walk through life has led you to this moment. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].