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

A Communion of Subjects

Just before I started writing this, we watched a rainstorm over a distant mountain light up with the orange glow of sunset and then reveal a rainbow with the whole spectrum of colors. Between that, a sky full of stars last night, and seemingly endless miles of terra cotta mountains through the desert drive here, this place is gorgeous.

The natural beauty surrounding us and the peace that it evokes are quite enough to compensate for some of the less glamorous moments of our trip so far… four hours at the airport, setting up tents in the dark, and our first full day in the sun struggling with the heat and staying hydrated. Don’t worry, though, all of this is helping us to not take modern luxuries for granted. Especially after a year and a half of COVID-19, we have become fairly adaptable.

Although it is true that most of us were awake for an entire 24 hours for traveling, I believe that as a group we have already started bonding more than we ever have in school. My group on the bus yesterday, for example, played games together for about two hours passing the time on the 5-ish-hour drive from the Vegas airport to our campsite. Even with only a few hours of sleep, everyone is already leaning into this experience with a lot of energy.

Especially away from our devices, I have discovered that being in this environment and this community is reminding me that it is okay to simply be. Away from the pressures and demands in our normal lives, we can be more honest and more authentic. I hope that, as a group, we will continue to discover this and trust each other more each day. Personally, I have no doubt that we will grow together and gain something invaluable from this experience, even if we do not quite know what that means yet.

And the food is great! 🙂 As darkness starts to settle in on our camp, I will leave you with a quote from a book recommended by our course instructors, Braiding Sweetgrass: “We must say of the universe that it is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” I hope that I can come to a fuller understanding of this idea throughout my time here. Goodnight!