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Bonderman Travel Fellowship

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(soft music) The Bonderman Travel Fellowship made me look outside the world that I lived in. What can we do that we've never done before What can you do that you've never done before. What can you see that you've never seen. And what are you going to do that's going to change how you see the world and who you are. I felt like there was an unknown world waiting for me. And I kind of wanted to step into a place of uncertainty, ambiguity and push my own boundaries Its a one-time thing for me. Its a limited opportunity. Its a masive gift I was given And the gift was not not to have to have fun all the time. The gift was to get the experience with all it contained. It was so bizarre to land in a country and know that no one knew I was coming. No one knew me in the entire country. I had no plans really other than my own. It was just a very very different experience that I've never had. And I was alone. When you're on the road for that long on your own, you actually get pretty lonely And it kind of encourages you to be more outgoing, meet new people and become more of an extrovert. It opened me up to a lot of experiences and interchanges that I wouldn't have had otherwise. Thanks to a gift from UW alumnus David Bonderman, this fellowship supports UW honors undergraduates and graduates in extended independent travel 14 fellows are selected each year and are required to travel at least 8 months, to at least 6 countries, in 2 different regions of the world. No research, work or class is allowed. Since the program's inception in 1995, more than 140 students traveled to more than 140 countries. They returned not just with unique experiences, and breathtaking pictures, but with expanded views of the world and their place in it. There was this Buddhist pilgrimage walk and its visiting 88 temples around an Island and its been in existence for over a 1000 years. Some things that I kind of wanted to explore were nature and spirituality around the world and so when I learned about this I really wanted to walk part of it In 2 weeks I walked 137 miles along until everything became so simple. Drinking water was so refreshing. Sleeping was so good. Eating was, everything just tasted, everything was just so flavorful. Taking a really strong interest in the Middle East was never something I expected to gain from this experience. It has that historical relevance, almost on a geological timescale. but at the same time, the events that occur in these regions every day have a ripple effect around the world. As a naturalist, an ecologist I was really interested in the animal life, the wildlife. And south America has probably the most diverse wildlife anywhere. And I traveled everywhere from Pacific coast to the high Andes to the Amazon lowlands. so I covered a lot of terrain. For me music was the medium for exploration on this trip. and I thought to myself wouldn't it be cool if I could go to a country I'd never been to before where I can't speak the language, where I can barely even navigate around town and find people who play music too. I wanted to feel what people felt about climate change and then I wanted to do something about that We would talk so much about Bangladesh in Environmental Science class and realizing, just seeing the challenges they face just everyday and then knowing the challenges our whole world faces in terms of how their lives would be affected. It just kind of blew my mind. I view the world so differently now that I've travelled in that so much more of it is now a real place that I've seen and tasted and lived in. And so cosmetically maybe people dress differently in Kenya than in Seattle. Or maybe in Hong Kong people eat very strange food compared with what I ate growing up in West Texas but these are the kinds of things that are more cosmetic at the end of the day/ Before I left, I definitely had an interest in doing something that hopefully changed the world for the better After the fellowship, that idea evolved into wanting to serve the world in areas that I thought were under served and it was no longer something I just sort of believed in but somethingthat all I wanted to pursue in my life. I feel like the end result for me that was most meaningful is that I just have a greater love of this world and an understanding of the complexity of this world. Before leaving, I thought I was going to come home with a job lined up, with everything but then that was my mentality " OK what's next? but then when I came home, I was like I have no job, I have nowhere to go, (laughs) well going back home. I think the traveling really helped me feel like "You know, regardless of where you are and what happens, it's going to be OK." And it definitely left me with more wanderlust too that I can see more of Europe and Africa is like a whole continent that I didn't even really set foot in except Morocco and Egypt. This just really pissed, showed me the tip of the iceberg Having the opportunity to go and do this has truly been a life-changing experience. I never really thought that one experience would have such an impact on my life, but it has. You can get quite a few people in a rickshaw. Up to 7 though that's not recommended. I think its built to carry 3.

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 57 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: UW
Director: UW
Views: 98
Posted by: raneyn on Sep 26, 2010

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