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Fall 2006 Issue
    Cover Article
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    Base Camp Campaign Enters the Homestretch
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    Diversity Matters: Q&A with Linda Lindsey and Flip Hagood
    A Tough Assignment: On the Fly in Patagonia
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    From Tent Groups to Yahoo! Groups
    (A)broad Perspective: NOLS Celebrates Diversity While Providing A Unifying Experience
    Recipe Box: The Delight
    Gear Room: The Top Five Items from the Past Ten Years
    No Need for First Impressions: Experience Says It All
    Branch Notes
    A Little NOLS Goes a Long Way
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(A)broad Perspective:
NOLS Celebrates Diversity While Providing A Unifying Experience

By Jim Sherwin and Will Barkan

NOLS students bring to their courses a wide range of experience and background, but each leaves with a shared appreciation for leadership and wilderness. The following students who spent their summer with NOLS are no exception. As a group, they stand as a microcosm of the NOLS community, diverse individuals unified through swarms of mosquitoes and far too much oatmeal.

An entire family embarking simultaneously on NOLS courses is a rare treat for NOLS. Over five weeks this summer, Dr. Nancy Sutera and three of her four children, Justin, Peter and Joy, all completed courses out of NOLS Rocky Mountain. The Sutera family was not new to the outdoors, but a friend recommended they explore the Rockies with NOLS. Nancy enjoyed a 40 and Over Wind River Wilderness Course while Peter and Joy trekked with each other on a 16 and Over Wind River Wilderness Course. 15-year-old Justin was farther north in the Big Horn Mountains on a Wyoming Adventure Course. Despite being in different locations, Nancy expressed how they all shared the enriching “common experience” of a NOLS course, and she spoke highly of the emphasis on Leave No Trace and Expedition Behavior. Joy, 19, has a newfound interest in wilderness medicine to complement her studies as a pre-med biology major. Future NOLS courses are on the horizon with talk of an alumni course with the whole family.

Twelve students from the National College of Physical Education and Sports in Taiwan joined three NOLS Professional Training instructors and one film crew for a sea kayaking expedition that led them through one of Alaska’s most beautiful landscapes, Prince William Sound. NOLS Professional Training specializes in custom courses for groups and organizations seeking the leadership, teamwork and outdoor skills that have distinguished NOLS for over 40 years. This Taiwanese group included a student who climbed Denali last summer, a student who has bicycled around the world, and a student who completed an 80-day traverse of Taiwan. That these particular students were already skilled outdoorsmen and women who attend a premier experiential education institution in Taiwan speaks to the scope and high regard of NOLS Professional Training. After 10 days in the field, the students returned to Taiwan with the skills to lead their own sea kayaking courses and the stories, lessons and pictures to inspire successors.

When Fareedon Azeemi, 16 (far left), arrived in Lander to take his Wind River Wilderness Course, he was new to the backcountry, but as one instructor put it, “He’s not the type to back down.” Fareedon earned a reputation as a tireless hiker, volunteering to assist with any difficulty or complication that came up on course, including the evacuation of one of his coursemates. Born in Afghanistan, Fareedon came to the United States four years ago, moving from Pakistan to Houston, Texas. He described one of his biggest challenges as learning English, which he successfully mastered in the last four years, and is now attending YES College Preparatory School in Houston. He is a varsity athlete with a strong passion for soccer and hopes to apply his NOLS experience to leadership in sports. Fareedon’s development of initiative and pursuit of new experiences and new knowledge is a prime example of how NOLS students naturally adapt to and excel in new environments.

Oksana Polonskaya, 21, came a long way to attend her Wind River Wilderness Course. An orphan from the former Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan, she excelled in school and the backcountry before traveling from Bishkek, her country’s capital, to Lander. Oksana is a graduate of Bishkek Finance Economic Technical School, an organizer of international music festivals, and an accomplished outdoorswoman. The Alpine Fund, a non-profit non-governmental organization that conducts education in outdoor skills and the environment in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, introduced Oksana to the outdoors. It is one of many organizations around the world partnered with the Mountain Fund to improve the lives of impoverished mountain communities. NOLS works with the Mountain Fund to seek and support outstanding people. By training students like Oksana, NOLS enriches its diversity and perspective on outdoor skills, leadership and environmental ethics.


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