Written By Luke Tyler '23
Interim is Randolph’s experiential learning experience that gives students an opportunity to explore specialty topics, travel, work with professional mentors, serve within the community, and engage with cultures different from their own to allow them to develop as global citizens and connect their learning to real-world experiences. One of the many Interim trips students participated in this year was an excursion in the Western United States. Students explored several national parks, including Arches and Zion, participated in guided tours from Navaho residents, and camped out under the Western desert sky. After a week of learning, hiking, rafting, and camping, the students who went on this trip were asked to write a reflection paper discussing what they learned, noticed, and enjoyed during the trip. Luke Tyler ’23 shared his thoughts and reflections about the Out West trip, as well as several photos he took:
While this picture isn’t the best-looking, it’s one of my favorites from the Out West trip. This was taken during the Navaho Nation Jeep tour of Monument Valley. Out of all the things we saw in the Navaho Nation, I can probably say that a basketball goal was one of the things that caught me most off-guard. Going into the Navaho Nation, I think I was expecting something much different than the reality. Hearing about how the Navaho live their lives so differently from mine caused me to anticipate a much greater culture shock than what I actually experienced. In reality, I realized that even though we have different ways of life in some senses, we’re really not that different from one another. Even if you don’t have electricity or indoor plumbing, the desire to ball out can still be strong!
Some of my favorite parts of the trip were the long bus rides. While it wasn’t something I expected to enjoy so much, it allowed me to see the beautiful scenery while also being able to work in some rest and maybe a nap every once in a while. A good thing about having my headphones on the bus rides was that it allowed me to observe the relationship between music and nature. Music and nature play off one another so well that one can allow you to experience the other in a new way. One of the prime examples of this during the trip was in Zion National Park. After our guide talked about the first accounts of people in Zion, and the religious value they placed on the area, I listened to “24” by Kanye West as we continued to drive. I chose that song in particular because of its use of an organ and gospel choir, as well as its religious themes. I have to say, I don’t think I could have made a better choice for a song in that situation. Something about the way the larger-than-life mountains worked with the reverb-soaked choir and organ not only made “24” the best it’s ever sounded, but also added to the natural beauty of Zion. I totally understand the religious value that’s been placed on Zion.
The Toadstools were definitely my favorite part of this trip, which was a surprise because I had very low expectations going into it as I had already seen my fair share of oddly shaped rocks. However, the Toadstools felt like a giant playground; partly because of how climbable everything was, but also because we were surrounded by friends. Had I not been with Luke Falkenburg (’22) the first time we climbed this section (pictured), I would have turned back. While being with Luke, I was not only guided along the best path up, but I was also able to forget some of the inherent danger in what we were doing. Although it may have been scary at times, the satisfaction of making it to the top made the climb 100% worth it.