Exactly one year ago I graduated from Hampshire College. In some ways it doesn’t feel that strange that a year has passed, but it’s amazing to think back on what this past year post-school has brought for me.

In the past year I fulfilled my dream to work as a backpacking guide (CO), I traveled across the world and worked on my own (China), I met many of my Chinese family for essentially the first time (HK), I returned on my own to a place I love deeply (Cuba), and I settled into a US city as a young person to figure out what the heck I want to do (Portland).

Through all of that there was confusion, beauty, connection, boredom, and lots of adventure. I probably learned as much about what doesn’t work for me (work, living) as what does work for me. I learned more about what makes me tick and how I can be of benefit to others. Here are some brief highlights:

CO: Dressing up like “An Amazing Mountaineering Woman of the 1800s.” That was a theme of ours, and at one point we backpacked in bonnets and long skirts.

China: Co-leading a mangrove field study, visiting a Mangrove swamp with our students.

HK: Farewell dinners with my entire family. They took us to a vegetarian restaurant, which was so incredibly thoughtful.

Cuba: Nelson, myself, and some of his friends listen to a rumba at LA UNEAC. It starts to pour rain, so everyone clears away to hide underneath the outside patios protected by the roof. The band keeps on playing. Nelson and I run through the rain to grab a friend, and we stop in the middle of the dance floor. We look at the band still playing, and that at each other, and stop to dance in the rain. Onlookers cheer us on.

Portland: Yesterday, working at the preschool, I have one child on my lap because if she’s not there she will wiggle and downward dog her way through the whole lesson, and I have one child on each side of me holding my hand because they want to.

I am so thankful for all of these experiences, even when they were crazy or simply dreadful.

Where has the last year seen you?