Stories from the Field

Student Blog: A Piece of Wild

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Alcoa Scholars on their backpacking adventure

There are a few things in life which are quite hard to describe. I mean memories, feelings which become an inseparable part of you and they cannot be explained, you should be there and live in them. I feel the same right now. I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in California and hike in Yosemite National Park with Scholars from all over the world. The project was awesome, it was much more bigger, more vivid, it gave me more than what I had expected.

If you are brave enough to travel alone across the ocean, to spend days in the wild and be with unknown people, you will find treasures.
Ozike Kovacs, 2017 Yosemite Alcoa Scholar

It is so strange but you will find your true self there or soul mates, the connection to everything and your inner peace. Before coming to this project I was not entirely the same person. I was a girl who arrived with a heavy backpack and was putting out all of her fears, negative thoughts in small pieces during the trip. Here I did not care of people's expectations of who should I be. We were just enjoying ourselves, accepting everyone for who they are, admiring nature and doing challenges. We lived in the moment and enjoyed day by day life better.

These two weeks have shown me a different perspective, a better way of life. I have learned so much during the days spent in Yosemite. Firstly, I have learned that you are able to do more, carry more than what you believe. We have almost reached our barriers both physically and emotionally. You had to step out of your comfort zone and face your fears. I have never slept only in a sleeping bag on the top of a mountain, never bathed in icy rivers or hiked for days up and down on hills. I could never imagine how a bandana would serve as a plate or that I will use the scientific expressions from biology lessons and trigonometry. But we did and the whole project was awesome and it gave us a lot of self-confidence, self-knowledge and great experiences.

I keep smiling thinking about the memories: counting the shooting stars before sleep, singing during hikes, eating tortillas and asking for seconds all the time. The jokes from the trip keep going in my mind, and I want to talk for whole days long about our cultural and school differences, our dreams and fears and the most embarrassing moments of our lives. We just came here as strangers and left each other as a family in soul. I have no idea what is the trick inside, but anytime an international group is put together for more than a week, they make the best out of each other. They all bring their own cultures, their stories, their braveness and openess and the whole is mixing up and creating a really inspiring and positive community. You will leave these people with a deeper personality and a fulfilled heart.

I could keep talking about the UNO-parties, making fun of the foreign expressions or the taste of the vegemite and all of the other memories for days. I could keep describing the beauty of the sunrise at Half Dome or the gorgeousness of Yosemite Valley. I could keep writing whole books about the feeling of being connected to nature, being entirely a part of it and realising how small you are while the universe is huge and impressive. Living in nature in its purest level without all the noise, dirt of society. And finding your home here and your inner peace. I could keep writing, but it is useless. Those who hiked in the backcountry or spent days in an international community—they know what I mean. They have lived in it.

They know that anytime you step out of your comfort zone and face your fears you will not be lost.
Ozike Kovacs, 2017 Yosemite Alcoa Scholar

You will encounter challenges which make you a better person, you will meet with people who inspire and accompany you and you will find a bigger thing than what you were searching for. You will realise how great life is, how many opportunities you have and how thankful you are. You will need less and want to give more. To be honest this project did not change me, it just brought out the best of me, showed me my values and also the bright side of life. I went back to home with so many memories and inspiration for preserving nature and continuing LNT but also for my studies. I got a lot of hands-on experiences which I can use in the future.

I am really thankful for this opportunity and all of the organizers and Scholars who joined. I am really thankful for all the memories, inspiration, challanges and the people with who we encountered. I am sure all of us have grown a lot during this trip and I just wish to keep this level and bring the atmosphere of this project back to my community. I know that what I have found in Yosemite is a treasure, and I want to preserve it. Because this trip was a piece of freedom, a piece of wonder and life.

Ozike Kovacs, 2017 Yosemite Alcoa Scholar
Ozike Kovacs, 2017 Yosemite Alcoa Scholar
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