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


Our flight was smooth and quick. Most students slept (or tried to), although at least one was awake and facing south towards Arizona, where they were sure they sighted the Grand Canyon. Visual evidence has yet to be confirmed, but they were excited regardless of which canyon it actually was.

And excitement was the dominant attitude all day, in spite of how long a day it ended up being. We encountered a minor delay at the Las Vegas airport, which pushed our time table back about 3 hours. And yet the students persevered.

The journey by van was punctuated with two stops at which our instructors introduced themselves and began tone setting. The drive ended up taking about 6 hours. Most took advantage of the opportunity to nap, but at various times everyone enjoyed the vastness of the desert valleys we travelled through. The excitement was palpable in the final hour of the drive once we entered CA and the Owens River Valley, or as the indigenous people here have always called it, Payahuunadü, the valley of flowing waters.

We arrived at our campground at sunset, which made setting up our tents a challenge. And yet the students persevered. A late dinner turned into a stargazing close of day together, the students insisting we all turn our headlamps off to marvel at the night sky. It was a very long day, but throughout it all, spirits were high, gratitude was expressed, and the time together was shared joyfully. The community bonds are growing already, and we’ve only just begun.