“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein

When life becomes too chaotic and overwhelming, it’s always good to take a break to calm the body and the mind. One of the ways to do this is by stepping away from our usual surroundings and finding refuge in a quiet place, like nature. Nature has the uncanny ability to ground us, remind us of the world we live in, center ourselves in our purpose, and help us gain a new appreciation for everyone and everything in our life. 

Nine scholars decided that the best break for them was a change of scenery and embarked on a wild journey from New York City to the beautiful landscapes of Big Bend, Texas. On yet another Outward Bound course, our scholars explored the Chihuahuan Desert, hiked across mountainous terrain, and traveled through water-polished canyons on this week-long backpacking expedition.

Each day, scholars worked together as a team to tackle the day’s challenges. They hiked both on and off trails, toured grandiose canyons, crossed mountain passes, and climbed boulder formations that promised amazing views. Through these experiences, scholars learned technical and soft skills that helped them throughout the trip and will ultimately serve them well in life, such as problem solving, self-confidence, collaboration, trust, and grit. 

This trip was more than just about enjoying the wonders of nature, learning new skills, or making it to the top of a mountain—though those are definitely nice bonuses—it was about discovering hidden parts of themselves that our scholars didn’t know existed. Check out what they had to say about the experience:

“As a New York City native, I used to look at campers and think they were crazy. How could they give up such necessities for the wild? Then the application [for this program] opened up after a long quarantine and I asked myself if I wanted to go on a journey of self-discovery. Something told me I had to take this journey for personal enlightenment. And it was the most eye-opening experience of my life.”
~ Aishah Bashir, Scholar from Harlem Prep High School


“Each day I was surrounded by people who genuinely cared about both me and the community, giving me a sense of family and comradery that I desperately wanted and needed. […] It allowed me to connect with people around me, push myself to the limit, and tap into the best parts of me. […] To the people that made this possible, thank you. To those wondering if this was worth it, my answer is ‘Absolutely.’”
~ Nathaniel Lincoln, Scholar from Democracy Prep Charter High School

“This experience has motivated me to do better and the skills I learned can help me be successful in college and when I become an adult.”
~ Aminata Ndiaye, Scholar from Democracy Prep Harlem High School

“We were pushed out of our comfort zone and came out physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger.”
~ Kevin Xu, Teacher from Democracy Prep Harlem High School

Each year, our Global Citizens program offers scholars of all ages unique opportunities to travel to new places, step out of their comfort zones, and learn from diverse cultures and communities. In a world where travel is a privilege that not many people have, we are incredibly grateful to be an organization that nurtures our scholars’ wanderlust and supports their personal and academic growth in different ways.

There’s more where that came from! Be sure to check out all of our other travel blogs, like our journeys in the Rocky Mountains, Boundary Waters, and the Channel Islands. Until next time!