Why did we do this? Why did we decide to sacrifice 10 weeks of our lives and thousands of dollars to a program that would pull us together from every corner of the continent? We didn’t do it because it was fun, we didn’t do it for a vacation from our every day life, and we didn’t do it because of our love of thirty-something partially bald men. (Okay, maybe Joey did.) We came here because we wanted to grow as people and learn skills that would make us more confident making our everyday lives fit our dreams more perfectly. These past three days we put the skills we’ve learned to the test.
Starting our first morning in Denver, we were challenged to apply all the skills we had learned to go through all the steps we would go through were we to continue to live in Denver following the adventure semester. This included the obvious things; we looked for places to work, applied online to chains like Panera and Culver’s, and applied in person to a small sub-shop, frighteningly desperate for drivers. We toured an apartment being led by a very polite man who seemed surprisingly inviting to a group of 4 teenagers unlikely to have the money to afford a $2,600/Month apartment. We even toured a gym. But a lot of the enjoyment came from less “essential” areas.
Three weeks ago in Crested Butte, Blake challenged us each to email busy people in the Denver area and request to meet with them. These meetings were diverse and gave everyone their own takeaway. Katie met with a paleontologist at a Denver museum who specialized in the relationship between humans and nature. They discussed the importance of making youth feel connected to nature in an age where inactivity has resulted in a lower life expectancy than that of our parents. Elan met with a young artist. I conversed with a Unitarian Universalist minister in a coffee shop and discussed the shortcomings of the religion, what its future should hold, and the universal spirituality of all things.
We didn’t just talk to these people. Many interactions turned out to have a similar outcome. A few students went to UC Denver trying to sit in on a class, only to be told that they were unable to based on a school policy. After explaining their background and about the program, even though they still were denied a class, they were invited into a Neuroscience professor’s office to talk about her job and after an hour and a half had learned about the relationship between mental and physical health, gained a new friend, and been offered a place to stay if we were ever in the state of Vermont.
Many things that might have been boring turned into some of the highlights of the first half of the week. We approached the library with the intent of learning something new, went to a free museum to practice sketching, and searched around for the best views in Denver. Some of the best conversations of the challenge were with a young man working at the Denver Tool Library, and a friendly SafeWay employee working in their deli. While asking for directions on the bus Elan even got a girl’s number.
Our group also embarked upon a secret challenge that ended up being blown pretty quickly. We wanted to be able to approach challenges with as little money strain as possible. In order to accomplish this we posted this on Facebook:
“It’s our last week at the Unschool Adventures, Adventure Semester, (http://www.unschooladventures.com/trip/adventure-semester/) and our team (Max Colmenares, Dave Vyas, Katie Berdichevsky, and Elan Jacobsen) has challenged ourselves to raise at least $250 in the next few days to fund our group’s real-world adventuring.
We are offering several personalized gifts (ranging from $10-$50) as part of our campaign- Dave, Max, and Katie are each offering a base gift and a higher-tier gift, described below. You can donate at paypal.me/MaxColmenares, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an order!
-Hand-written poem by Elan about any subject you want, hand-written and mailed to an American address of your choice
– Short song (voice + ukulele or guitar) dedicated to you, performed by Dave and filmed at a public Denver location. You will receive a youtube link to the video.
– Graphite hand-drawn portrait by Katie, modeled off of any photo of your choosing. You will receive a high-quality scan of the portrait, as well as the original copy mailed to an American address of your choice. ($10 per person pictured)
– 500-word essay (analytic, persuasive, anything) written by Max on any topic of your choosing. You will receive a PDF of the final piece.
– Any song of your choice (covers, personalized songs, sky’s the limit!) performed by Dave and filmed at a public Denver location, with a spoken message of your choice with the song. You will receive a youtube link to the video.
– 1000+ word short story written by Max to your prompting. (Anything from “Write a short story about elephants” to “I would love a story set in Wisconsin’s North Woods” or even “Make a story about a Gnome named Godfrey who sells pickle flavoured donuts on a street corner.” Be as specific as you would like!) Stumped on gift ideas for any people in your life? Insert them into an astronaut story! You will receive a well-formatted PDF of the final piece, with a cover page.
– Full-colour, hand-drawn portrait by Katie, modeled off of any photo of your choosing. Fantastic option for family holiday cards! You will receive a high-quality scan of the portrait, as well as the original copy mailed to an American address of your choice.
Examples of songs improvised/parodied by Dave:
An example of Katie’s art can be seen at 0:27 in this video:
Example of Max’s writing:
So far we’ve raised over $200 dollars, and were able to attend a Chance the Rapper concert, and have more journeys in our future.
What we saw in doing this, and by deciding to talk to strangers was that we weren’t just building a life full of creature comforts. We were building a life that would give us all the excitement, discovery, and human connection that we have been experiencing for the past 10 weeks. This trip is, and always was going to end, but what we’ve learned will last us our whole lifetimes.