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Lizzie Baron: Travel and Ecological Volunteering in India

July 5, 2011

Lizzie Baron

I decided to take time off after my third semester.  I felt tired and constrained by school, and confused about why I was getting a higher education.  I enjoyed my first year and a half at Brown, while I simultaneously didn’t know if I was at Brown because it’s what I wanted, or just what I’d been told to do.  I wanted to carve out my own path, and attend Brown when I actively wanted to be there.  I was interested in intentional community, international travel, and spiritual practice so… I bought an open-ended plane ticket to India!  I planned out my first couple of weeks before I left- I would be volunteering in an ecological intentional community called Sadhana Forest, and trusted that the rest would fall into place as my time there progressed.  I ended up loving the community, and stayed for my first and last month in India, spending two months traveling and one living and working with a family in a rural Himalayan village in between.  I got to work outside, hike, learn Hindi, practice yoga, and travel with my sister and friends from Brown; to explore, live moment-to-moment, immerse myself in another world…

By the end of my travels, I felt tired and excited for school.  After so much time abroad on my own, returning to this familiar and comforting setting was just what I wanted.  The rest of my Brown experience was much different- I designed my own major and took all my classes S/NC.  I grew more comfortable with many of the questions I asked myself before and during my time away.  Even as they lingered on, I was more relaxed, more confident in my decision to be there, and lived a much more balanced and centered life.  I’m so thankful for that experience, and for taking that risk when I had a safe and welcoming place to return to.

Me learning how to make paper.

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