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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Hello, and what’s your story?

I wonder what you are each thinking this trip will be about…

Did you come to be outside in the natural world?

To get a new look at where you fit in to the history of this land?

To learn more about yourself?

To get away from something else in life back home?

Are you hungry to understand something deeper about the mountains and high desert, and the people and that have called them home?

Have you come to consider the significance of land and water in our lives?


Hi, I’m Bradford, one of the instructors for the course.  It can be interesting thinking about telling all of you a bit of my background, my life story.  I have spent years living outside of this place we call the United States of America, and then coming back again.  I think that we all have so many stories that we tell ourselves and each other to make sense of life and this world.  Sometimes we actively participate in coming up with the stories we have about life; other times we are receiving stories that others have prepared for us.  Stories can be powerful things.

The way people interact with place, and especially the stories we tell about places, is one of my biggest passions.

Once the pandemic began, instead of staying in Asia last year, I came through ghost-like airports, flying back to North America. Since then, I have been living on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains, spending a lot of time outside in this vast natural area. The planet feels big here and people feel small, mountains become high-altitude deserts, and everything has been shaped by the rivers running down into the high and dry land.  In many ways this is similar to the Payahuunadu valley where we will meet each other, and other incredible individuals.

The natural world, or maybe you could better say our Mother Nature, makes me feel alive.  In Payahuunadu, I feel like a humbled guest entering into a powerful place, and I hope to do so well.

How about you? How do you plan to ready yourself to enter this region, these places?  In what mindset will you come?  These are places which have long been carefully honored and interacted with by Native Americans, and have recently been abused– with frightening results.

That said, having met some of the remarkable people and places you soon will, I’m certain this time together will be full of beautiful possibility.

In the end, the things in this course that we care about are the things that can change our lives. We people with a range of life experiences will come together and co-create this trip. I can’t wait.