By: Anthony Fraden
The past week has been a whirlwind of emotions and changes. We left the backcountry forests of Wyoming and returned to the way of life we were previously accustomed to, only we had a far greater sense of appreciation for it all. Our eyes were opened to all of the convenient tools we used in our everyday lives that we had earlier taken for granted. Yet once we got back we also found that we didn’t have much time to process all that had happened in our journeys in the wilderness or think of the differences in our perceptions before and afterwards. We had to begin preparing for the next leg of our trip, in which we would travel and do various service learning projects all throughout the country. We gathered and sorted our belongings and soon enough we were on the road in two 12 passenger vans making our way to our first destination: Pine Ridge Native American Reservation. Everything seemed like it had been happening far quicker than anticipated, but this also made it even more adventurous. On our way to the reservation we stopped at many different national monuments, parks, and other beautiful sites we found along the way. Each night we would stay with a kind local church or center that would allow us to spend the night in their facility. One of my favorite moments from this week would be when we spent the night in a church in Cody, Wyoming and were able to hear their choir sing. When a few of us went into the pews to listen a little more clearly they asked if any of us had sung in a choir before and allowed us to join them. It was only for a single song but it was a fun moment that allowed us to connect with the people who had so graciously welcomed us into their sanctuary. This transition week has been hectic, but after a month of dealing with the challenging conditions that were presented to us in NOLS it’s been easy to adjust to the semi-chaotic schedule. Now we’ve all grown closer as a group and are ready to push ourselves to learn as much as we can about the places we’re travelling to, all the while making sure that we do what we can to help improve conditions. I’m looking forward to these next 5 weeks and I’m sure that this experience will be just as transformative as the last.