Overseas Educators

When it comes to selecting our Overseas Educators, we don’t mess around. Safety is our priority, but other attributes are essential in Overseas Educators including cultural competence, understanding group dynamics, mentoring, and strong problem solving/communication skills. All Overseas Educators have in country experience, wilderness first aid certifications and participate in an extensive in-house training prior to each semester. We’re amazed by our Overseas Educators, and are sure you will be too!

Angie Fuhrmann

Angie Fuhrmann

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Angie Fuhrmann

Overseas Educator

Beginning at the age of two weeks old, Angie moved away from her birthplace in Nevada and developed a naturally nomadic lifestyle. With her family constantly on the move due to her father’s job, she lived in five states before finishing elementary school. Because of this, Angie developed passions for exploring the outdoors and learning about different cultures at an early age. Ultimately, her upbringing led her to study cultural anthropology at Northern Arizona University, where Angie was able to compliment her love for cultures with her love for the outdoors.

During her undergraduate studies, Angie decided to learn more about the neighbors to the south and jumped at the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Mexico. After graduating, Angie was still inspired by her experience abroad traveled to Nicaragua to complete a five month internship with the Foundation for Sustainable Development. Living in a small coffee-farming community, she helped train locals to become guides of an archaeological and nature reserve, secured funding for an environmental remediation project along the creek running through the reserve, and assisted with a community-run reforestation project. Yet, after traveling around Central America, Angie knew she wanted to learn more about sustainable development, so she returned to school to get her M.A. in Anthropology with a focus in sustainable development from Colorado State University.

During her graduate studies, Angie received a research fellowship from the Center for Collaborative Conservation to travel to the Peruvian Amazon and to carryout community-based and capacity-building workshops with several Shipibo indigenous communities. While in Peru, Angie also had an opportunity to lead a trip for teens through the Andes and to Machu Picchu. This was her first taste of facilitating an experiential education program instead of being a student in one, and something clicked. Angie realized that her passions lie not only in sustainable development, but also helping others understand through firsthand experiences the beauty of cultural awareness and the unforeseen realities of ecotourism and development work.

Since graduating from Colorado State, Angie has spent her time working for various nonprofit and governmental organizations in the Pacific Northwest, guiding whitewater rafting trips, foraging for and cultivating edible and medicinal mushrooms, and deepening her spiritual connection to the planet. Angie is excited to join forces with Carpe Diem again!

Fun Facts

Angie lived in five states before finishing elementary school.

Angie completed a  five month internship with the Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nicaragua- in a small coffee-farming community.

Angie has spent her time working for various nonprofit and governmental organizations in the Pacific Northwest, guiding whitewater rafting trips, foraging for and cultivating edible and medicinal mushrooms, and deepening her spiritual connection to the planet.

Anya Chang-DePuy

Anya Chang-DePuy

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Anya Chang-DePuy

Overseas Educator

Anya’s story starts in a small suburban town outside of Boston, the second daughter of two wickedly cool world travelers. This globetrotting duo started including little Anya on their international travels at the ripe young age of 5. Together they explored Europe, China, and Mexico. Once she learned to tie her own shoes, book her own plane tickets, and other achievements of young adulthood, she branched away from her parents to start adventuring around the globe with peers.

Anya first traveled to Thailand on a student trip when she was 16. She fell deeply and irrevocably in love with the country. By the time she fell asleep on that first night, she had already decided she would have to return. She arrived back in the US with stars in her eyes, chili in her blood, and a fierce determination to join the next student trip to Thailand and, this time, Myanmar. It turns out that that her love of Thailand encompassed all of Southeast Asia for she made Myanmar a similar promise to return. The next summer she landed an internship that gave her 2 months of programs in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand!

After that invigorating summer she started studying cultural anthropology with a focus on Asia at the University of Massachusetts. Of course there was no way she was going to stay in the US for her whole undergraduate career! The first summer she went to Guatemala to help construct a day-care center. Next, she studied abroad for a year. She spent a semester in China studying at the University of Ethnic Minorities. This is where she first encountered indigenous rights issues which she which she digested along side exotic Chinese street cuisine. She spent her next semester in her beloved Thailand, studying the effects of globalization and development on local communities. She witnessed immense improvement in her language capabilities, perhaps having something to do with daily 2 hour intensive Thai classes and numerous homestays throughout the semester. The following 2 summers she began leading the programs she had once been a student on in Southeast Asia.

Only a few weeks after graduating it was finally time to buy a one-way ticket to Asia. She spent 5 months in Myanmar as a volunteer teacher at a monastic school and travelled around the country to places where few tourists had wandered before. After Myanmar, India was calling her name with it’s intense colors, tastes and textures. She volunteered in Chennai for 3 months with an NGO working to provide education to rural communities that would otherwise not have access. The next 3 months she journeyed through the mountains in the north where she found a silver-smith teacher to study under, she worked on an organic farm in a small village in exchange for accommodation and food, and she practiced yoga and meditation in the high altitude desert of Leh. After a good dose of India, she returned to Thailand to work with an NGO focused on sustainable development for one of the hill-tribe groups, and to continue leading programs around SE Asia and beyond. She is headed to Fiji this summer!

Anya started leading programs to satiate her desire to live and travel abroad, but it didn’t take long for her to realize the real reason she is drawn to this work. Having been a student on many educational abroad programs, she knows more than anyone the transformation they can invoke. Through her own transformation her passion has developed into providing young people with the opportunity to process, learn and grow through experiential educational programs with her support and guidance. She truly believes in the power of experiential education and holds the heartfelt belief that every person should have the chance to experience it. She sees that this is how we learn to connect with others and the world, to be more understanding and loving, and to follow and spread a more peaceful lifestyle. She is beyond thrilled to join the Carpe Diem team this fall in India, a place close to her heart, and a land full of endless learning and exploration opportunities. She can’t wait to start the journey!

Fun Facts

If there is good music, good luck getting Anya to sit still! She absolutely loves to dance in all forms from interpretive to ballroom!

Anya loves creating things like designing and making silver jewelry and sewing her own clothes, laptop cases and yoga-mat bags.

Anya saw the Dalai Lama speak in McLeod Ganj, India, about how the United States (and the world) would benefit from incorporating compassion into their educational systems and she strongly agrees and attempts to do that whenever she leads a program!

Amanda Rader

Amanda Rader

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Amanda Rader

Overseas Educator

Though born and raised in Pennsylvania, Amanda’s sense of home has extended across the globe. Her first international travel immersion was after her first year of college when she served as a volunteer in rural Honduras. The 6-week experience sent her life spiraling along new paths centered on questions of justice, and explorations of the lived experience and the interconnectedness of diverse approaches to it. Amanda’s Honduran journey inspired her to join the Peace Corps after completing her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Spanish from Franklin & Marshall College. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she spent three years serving in the capacity of Community Health Promoter in the Dominican Republic.

Turning her sights to graduate school, Amanda completed her MA in Peace & Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland in Australia under the auspices of Rotary International’s World Peace Fellowship. After a brief yet powerful chapter of living and teaching on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, Amanda launched into her first semester with Carpe Diem as a co-leader for the South Pacific trip. Since, she has also led semesters to Central America, South America, Southeast Asia and India.

In the most recent past, Amanda worked several years with Carpe Diem as a Program Director and Latitudes Advisor, and also spent several years in Tucson, AZ working for Earlham’s College Border Studies Program. She is excited and honored to return to the field as an Overseas Educator for Cuba Spring 2017!

Amanda has developed a passion for life through the intensity of her journey across cultural boundaries. She holds a profound belief in the potential of inspired youth to positively transform our world, and is grateful to be collaborating with Carpe Diem in generating a network of such changemakers.

Fun Facts

Walked from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail: 2,650 beauty-soaked miles!

Designed a semester to learn about First Nations people throughout the southwest, which is where she has found the most inspiring leadership.

Finds great freedom and joy in jumping into cold bodies of water, especially after a long, hot runs.

Brett Garner

Brett Garner

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Brett Garner

Overseas Educator

Brett is a conservation biologist, educator, and photographer based in San Diego. He grew up in the California mountains as a general outdoorsman which led to his obvious next step, forgetting the mountains to be immersed in the ocean.

He studied Marine Biology and Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, during which time he conducted research on the effects of plastic pollutants on benthic invertebrates—read sea cucumbers—on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef through a partnership with the University of Queensland. He followed this with a master’s degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD where he focused on marine resource management in indigenous communities. During this time he was generally setting himself up for a life of travel and adventure.

He guided wilderness expeditions throughout the US National Parks; served as a medical volunteer for a youth hospital in Ecuador; helped lead a 12-month wilderness school in Sequoia; taught sailing and marine science in San Diego, worked as a PADI Divemaster throughout Southeast Asia and the Caribbean; and led international trips to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Israel, and Australia.

When Brett is not working as an educator he works on conservation projects using photography to bring light to environmental issues. He recently spent several months in Fiji producing a photo essay and documentary featuring a fishing community whose traditional lifestyle may soon disappear due to environmental degradation.

He likes to experience, enjoy, and care for our crazy world with all that’s in it, and he hopes to inspire others to join him. He is thrilled to join with Carpe Diem in this pursuit.

Fun Facts

Bria Light

Bria Light

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Bria Light

Overseas Educator

Bria was raised by two music teachers in the green countryside outside of Eugene, Oregon, where she divided her time between epic Supersoaker battles, romping about with the family rottweiler, and hiding away with her nose glued firmly in a book. As a child, Bria’s first spark of passion for travel and foreign language was kindled by a Japan study in fifth grade, which took her young imagination soaring to the exotic unknown of that faraway country, and prompted her to take three years of Japanese lessons.

Once at university, Bria seized the opportunity wholeheartedly to travel and learn languages. After her freshman year she spent the summer in a small coastal town in southern Italy working for Camp Adventure Youth Services. She later spent a life-changing semester studying Spanish and Mexican Studies in central Mexico and a summer term studying French in Angers, France. For Bria, it was a paradigm-shifting four years in which she discovered both the exquisite flavors and beauty of different cultures throughout the globe but also the immense tragedy of social inequity and poverty. She left that chapter certain that whatever pathways she chose, travel, social justice, and a drive to understand the people and places she went would be at the heart of her quest.

Also driven by a passion for the outdoors, in 2012 Bria spent four months living and volunteering as a full-time backpacking guide for Quetzaltrekkers in the beautiful western highlands of Guatemala. There, she led multi-day treks and spent evenings in the city cooking and playing soccer with the kids whose school and home were funded by treks’ proceeds. The following year, Bria returned to France to spend the year teaching English at two public middle schools and embarking upon many European adventures in her time off. The past several summers have found Bria in the small mountain hamlet of Telluride, Colorado, where she teaches outdoor education for the non-profit Telluride Academy and hopes to instill in her students her deep passion for the natural world and environmental stewardship. This past year, she backpacked the spine of the Colorado Rockies on the nearly 500 mile Colorado Trail, ran her first marathon in Torres del Paine National Park in southern Patagonia, and worked as a children’s librarian in the small rural town of Presto in Bolivia.

Bria is delighted to be joining the mighty explorers and educators of the Carpe Diem family.

Fun Facts

Cheridyn Egan

Cheridyn Egan

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Cheridyn Egan

Overseas Educator

Growing up in the Midwest (Wisconsin), Cheridyn spent many hours squished between her two older brothers in the car, heading towards many a campground or National Park with her family. Thus, from an early age, a love for the outdoors and exploration of new places was instilled in her. Cheridyn’s worldview expanded as various opportunities started to take her greater distances away from home. She was drawn to St. Olaf College for their study abroad opportunities and participated in the “Global Semester,” which spent five months traveling and studying through eight different countries around the world. After literally coming full circle around the earth, she knew it was just the beginning.

Looking for an opportunity to dive deeper into one culture, Cheridyn joined the Peace Corps. She lived for two years in a small Peruvian village in the Andes working with the youth in the village, living with an amazing host family, learning how to roast coffee and much much more. While living in the village she met a really great guy who lived up the road (another Peace Corps volunteer named Ryan). Three years later, she and Ryan returned to the small village and were married.

Cheridyn’s nomadic lifestyle is balanced between leading trips with Carpe Diem, delivering hand painted portraits to children living in other countries with The Memory Project, and spending quality time with friends and family between travels. She has led Carpe semesters in Central and South America as well as Fiji-Australia-New Zealand. Cheridyn loves the life-changing adventures a Carpe semester provides and is super excited to be leading for Carpe Diem again this fall.

Fun Facts

Cari Peck

Cari Peck

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Cari Peck

Overseas Educator

She got her first taste of travel when she was 12 years old and her friend’s parents invited Cari to to be her friend’s travel partner in Mexico. A monkey also got their first taste of Cari…but that’s another story…and yes, I said first (there would be 2 more in 2 different countries in years to follow)

Her real passion for travel, however, was sparked when she was 21 years old and studied abroad in Italy. There she found herself writing in her journal while traveling on the bus with her classmates to various lands…she wrote “I wish all people could experience this.” She was so elated by this opportunity and now couldn’t imagine a life without getting out and exploring the world. It was obvious there was so much more out there.

Already having an extremely open mind, it didn’t take much to convince Cari that she had to get back on the road soon after her return from Italy. The next summer she went to Germany to work as a Director of a military base day camp. The following year, she did an exchange at Hunter College in New York and interned at Saturday Night Live. Cari then wrapped up her degree with a Bachelor Arts in Psychology at the University of Oregon.

Upon finishing her studies, she packed up her life, with her guitar in the passenger seat and moved to Southern California to live with her best friend. She spent three years in San Diego and L.A. working as a behavioral specialist at a group home for foster kids and later with Autistic kids. She also switched it up and gained experience in marketing and sales working with Anheuser Busch. Always wanting to spice up life and roll around like the ball of life she is, she played around with different gigs…landing a position as a production assistant with National Lampoon’s Comedy Headquarters and assisting the Black Eyed Peas with concert work as well as managing Fergie’s MySpace (before the world of Facebook). However, the itch soon came…and it was time to leave.

She moved to South Korea to teach English for a year, then started working as an International recruiter for a volunteer company where she traveled the world. She lived in Australia for a year and worked on Aboriginal land at an Eco-Wilderness resort in the Outback (where she graciously shared her bathroom with a 3 meter Olive Python). Her next three years were spent program managing volunteer programs in South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand and Cambodia, for university students, engaging them in cultural immersion and leadership development. The programs focused on community development through construction projects (building classrooms), sea turtle and elephant conservation, and curriculum development.

Her most recent venture has been working as a Women and Youth Program Specialist in Rwanda with Peace Corps Response for a year. Cari supported women and youth living with HIV, by helping to create and manage their new businesses as well as assisting with music therapy in cooperation with Music without Borders.

Some of her adventures abroad took her on a road trip to New Zealand with 7 friends crammed into a car like clowns, on a camel through the deserts of India, trekking the Himalayas to Annapurna Basecamp in Nepal, gallivanting around Central and South America, invited to a local goat feast in Laos, trekking for gorillas in Uganda, chimp trekking in Rwanda, White Water Rafting the Nile, hiking to the largest lava lake in the world on top of a volcano in the Congo, and just recently she summited Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.

With many more stories up her sleeve and an infinite amount more expected in the future, she continues to live her life abundantly and fearless. Cari is extremely passionate about encouraging others to do the same. One of her favorite things to do is laugh.

Fun Facts

As of May 2017, Cari’s traveled to 49 countries and lived in 9 of them.

During an internship with the research and writing department at Saturday Night Live, she performed “bear growls,” for voice-over work in the background of a Bear Bar Scene Sketch. Strange…but Ridonkulous? Yes.

Cari used to finish warming up with her High School Varsity Basketball team and then sing the National Anthem before the games.

David Ficke

David Ficke

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David Ficke

Overseas Educator

David Ficke first discovered the raw power of international travel and cross-cultural connection in Thailand. A few months of attempting to teach English to a few exuberant groups of Thai children was all it took for David to get hooked. He found a niche in the world of seasonal work, enabling him to spend quality time in his beloved Sierra Nevada, leading trips with Longacre Expeditions around the US, and traveling a fair amount about the world. Most of his solo travel has been throughout Latin America, where he has found endless inspiration and an unshakable addiction to the Spanish language. Most recently David had the incredible opportunity to wander sections of southern and eastern Africa, which only served to strengthen his fascination with the diversity and resilience of humanity. He has led student adventure travel trips in Maine, the Outer Banks, Oregon, Washington, and British Colombia, and three cultural exchange programs to Ecuador and Tanzania.

His first two semesters with Carpe Diem were stellar, taking him back to East Africa and Southeast Asia. Now he’ll be heading back to Central America, where his love affair with Latin America first began. He considers each of these challenges to be true blessings, and is thrilled be working with Carpe Diem!

Fun Facts

David’s first experience with group travel came during a 10-month stint in Americorps, shortly after graduating from Virginia Tech. His team had projects in California, Utah, Arizona, and Washington.

David is mildly obsessed with sunflowers. Can you blame him?

Dance is a huge part of David’s life. His first love is swing, but he is always down for salsa, merengue, bachata, zydeco, cajun, contra, blues–whatever’s on. Let’s dance!

Diane Sternberg

Diane Sternberg

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Diane Sternberg

Overseas Eduactor

Spontaneous adventure has always been a priority in Diane’s life. Starting at an early age, she was prone to exploring the woods behind her house in New York accompanied by her older sister and their dog Jake. She loves the part of the world where fantasy and reality mix. Three days after graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Anthropology, Diane got a job on a schooner and discovered a previously unknown love of sailing. Since then, she’s been continuously inspired by experiential education at sea. Working with the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School for over a decade, she has facilitated courses of all lengths for a variety of students using the ocean as a platform for self-discovery. She also works for Ocean Classroom, teaching traditional seamanship skills and Maritime Literature to high school students.

Diane’s love of the unknown led her to Thailand several years ago, where she was struck by the unique landscape and the contagious energy she felt traveling through towns and villages. She continued traveling internationally to expand her own cultural awareness and overall life education. She is prone to visiting places where trekking in mountains provides a radical change of pace from life at sea. Peru, New Zealand and Nepal are among her favorite destinations.

A love of storytelling and writing led Diane to accept a job in India as a newspaper intern three years ago. She immediately fell in love with the country, her friends and co-workers and the dynamic and ever changing pace of life.

Diane’s greatest pleasure is teaching. Whether is it sailing skills, creative writing, or cross-cultural immersion, her students always impress her and she feels like she is constantly growing along with them. All the while she tries hard to see as many moonrises as possible and takes a fresh water dip whenever she can. Her favorite book is “The Little Prince” and she loves to eat ice cream.

Fun Facts

Diane once rowed and sailed an open boat from the Florida Keys to Maine with a group of her friends from Outward Bound

While adventuring off the coast of Mexico, Diane had the opportunity to swim next to a humpback whale.

Diane is a collector of puppets and uses them frequently as tools for storytelling, teaching and making friends laugh.

Doug Zaideman

Doug Zaideman

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Doug Zaideman

Overseas Educator

Born and raised in suburban Chicago, Doug’s family laid the groundwork for a love of nature at an early age thanks to their keen interest of escaping the city to the northwoods of Wisconsin, the Boundary Waters and road trips all over the country. As a teen, he participated in several adventure travel camps that first showed him the power and benefit of group experiential education. At Indiana University, he focused on Sport Marketing and Management, Spanish and Business while always maintaining a passion for travel and the great outdoors. After graduating, and working a season in minor league baseball, the mountains lured Doug west to Colorado, where he has lived, on and off, ever since.

When not hiking, snowboarding, and fly­ fishing (oh, and working some too) all over Colorado, Doug spends a considerable amount of time traveling internationally, admittingly learning a lot more from seeing the world than most classroom settings. He has pursued interests in teaching English, sustainable local development, SCUBA, and environmental tourism across the globe.

During extended trips throughout South America and Southeast Asia, it began to dawn on him to head back to his roots and pursue work in outdoor experiential education and adventure travel, what he loves the most! Since then he has been a trip leader or guide on several lengthy trips throughout the Midwest, west coast, South Africa and Swaziland. He loves to show people all of the beauty in the world and his passion for education and travel is ever growing.

Fun Facts

Recently hiked the Colorado Trail.

Has been SCUBA diving in 9 different countries.

Loves super spicy food!

Eric Strickler

Eric Strickler

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Eric Strickler

Overseas Educator

Why hello there! My name is Eric Strickler, and I will be narrating this written Bio for…Eric Strickler. I do hope you enjoy 🙂

Eric began his days on earth in the lovely mitten state, also referred to as the “Great Lakes state,” also referred to as Michigan. Eric has always enjoyed being near, in, or on top of the water, especially the freshwater of the Great Lakes (that salty stuff stings the eyes). During summers as a child Eric spent time at his father’s farm in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia helping to pick apples and running off to play in the New River which lay only a short jaunt from the house. He also was frequently jammed into a Subaru with his step-siblings and delivered to Moose Pond in Maine, where the Loons are ever present with their peaceful calls, but the Moose, not so much.

Before graduating high school Eric’s zoology nerd of a father had dragged him off to “help” his graduate school friends with their research projects in far away places such as Papua New Guinea and Australia. Three Outward bound courses over the course of this budding young man’s high school career helped to instill a passion in him for exploring and adventuring in the great wilderness realms of this planet.

Eric attended college at Grand Valley State University, in west Michigan, where his father is a professor of Anatomy but couldn’t handle the surrounding cornfields being his primary scenery. Eric studied abroad in New Zealand as well as Norway, each for a semester, and would have studied abroad again had graduating with a degree in Natural Resources Management not kept him from doing so.

Post graduation this motivated buckaroo headed west and landed in the Seattle area where he worked for 2 seasons at Mount Rainier National Park, served as an Americorps intern with Cascade Land Conservancy, and crewed as an educator/deckhand for 2 seasons with Salish Sea Expeditions. Eric also hopped over to Colorado for a season working with Rocky Mountain National Park. These experiences allowed Eric to give back to, gain a better understanding of, and explore many fantastic places within our country, but what he found he enjoyed the most was sharing them with other people. To that end he left the sunshine and blue skies of Colorado and returned to Seattle where for 3 ½ years he served as the Program Manager with Salish Sea Expeditions, helping to bring experiential marine science and sail training programs to youth around Washington’s Puget Sound.

It must be understood that this young man is a restless soul, and constantly desires adventure and new experiences from which to broaden his horizons and challenge himself. It is thus that even equipped with a standing desk, he decided his role as Program Manager had to come to a close. This newfound freedom would allow him to branch out and get back to working directly with the students that he was so excited to share the wonders of this world with. Eric is looking forward to sharing lots of interesting tidbits about culture and nerdy details about geology and marine biology with his students.

Well now that you are here at the bottom of this Bio I would like to thank you for reading! I do hope we can interface again at some point, but for now stick a smile on that face and go about into the world and make it contagious 🙂

Fun Facts

One of my favorite desserts is peanut butter and nutella, dipped into with a big spoon, with a nutty bar on the side. Peppermint tea as well, to aid in digestion of course.

I like to listen to audiobooks when I run. I set a “time goal” instead of a distance goal, open up to the last chapter I was on, and zipppoooo!

I saw a Rhino unexpectedly while on a safari hike in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park and the first thing that came to my mind was a scene reminiscent of Jurassic Park where a huge dinosaur that could definitely crush a human makes a sideways glance at a bunch of tourists, turns it’s head back in the direction it was going, and keeps on walking into the tall grass. Whoa…seriously, it was a whoa moment, those Rhinos are really big!

Hannah Newman

Hannah Newman

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Hannah Newman

Overseas Educator

Hannah grew up in the suburbs outside Philadelphia where she developed a strong love of soccer and board games. Family vacations were spent in southern Maine where her family would hike and rent bikes to go on map-less adventures. Summers varied between sleep away camp and outdoor adventure trips, such as backpacking in Wyoming and climbing the Grand Tetons.

Soccer dominated most of Hannah’s childhood and teenage years, taking her to Europe and Costa Rica to play abroad in middle school and high school respectively. It was in these trips that she fell deeper in love with travel and cross-cultural experiences and began spending her summers being a soccer camp counselor for middle and high schoolers. Ultimately, she decided leaving soccer in her hometown wasn’t an option, so she pursued the recruitment process to play at the collegiate level for Middlebury College. It was here that Hannah studied neuroscience while playing varsity soccer in the fall, skiing with friends in the winter, and doing club ultimate frisbee in the spring. She went to Costa Rica for a second time during a Winter Term to live in the small town of Nosara while teaching two English classes a day to both kids and adults. Upon returning, she realized med school wasn’t the path for her, so she approached a professor to craft an independent project focused on science writing, which led her to NYU’s Journalism School where she got her Master’s in Science Journalism immediately after leading a summer Putney Student Travel program to Costa Rica.

After three years of working in Manhattan, Hannah quit her job to pursue a career in outdoor experiential education, starting with a five month solo trip to South America where she lived with a family in The Galapagos, worked on a farm in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, hiked around a crater lake said to have no bottom, flew over the Nazca Lines, trekked in Colca Canyon, lived in the Sacred Valley for a month, and hiked to both Machu Picchu and its so-called sister, Choquequirao.

It is with a heart full of adventure, community, and new experiences that Hannah joins the Carpe Diem team excited to positively transform lives and empower young adults to push their boundaries, explore sights unseen, and conquer unprecedented challenges.

Fun Facts

Hannah rarely wears matching socks.

Played in the largest youth soccer tournament in the world, hosted in Sweden.

For her Master’s Thesis, Hannah became a fruitarian, eating only fruit (and some veggies, nuts, and seeds) for a month — the story is pretty epic.

James Simmons

James Simmons

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James Simmons

Overseas Educator

James believes in doing what he Loves. From the early cross country trips his family made between Portland and Nashville, to his constant desire for the freedom of the road, James knew he was a traveler at an early age. Given this awareness, James surprised himself (and others) by going to college immediately after high school. He received a full academic scholarship and just couldn’t say “no”. After two years of fascinating Anthropology classes and mediocre general ed and electives, James left school and decided to hitch-hike the American West. With laughable gear, no wilderness experience, and a belief that everything would be alright, James hitch hiked the American West for several months, immersing himself in remote wilderness settings for extended periods of time. He is forever grateful for the wonderful, hilarious, and yes, sometimes disturbing people who gave him over 4000 miles of rides during this voyage. Each helped James understand a new perspective on what it means to be a human in this world.

After his journey, James spent several years as a wilderness therapy guide. He taught primitive wilderness skills, communication and conflict resolution, and community living skills. The groups that James worked with changed his life. He learned more from these people than he could ever hope to teach to them. Of course, the greatest teacher of all was Nature herself. Again, much gratitude! James continued to work in wilderness, emotional growth schools, and drug and alcohol treatment for over a decade. James also had the unique experience of co- habitating with two amazing people, including co parenting an extremely bright and aware child. These two have been perhaps the greatest teachers in James’ life. Much RESPECT for all the parents and children of the world!!

During this time, James also discovered the Japanese martial art, Aikido. Immediately drawn to this flowing and powerful Art, James studied diligently for a decade, culminating in him earning his black belt and becoming an assistant instructor. James also had the opportunity to be part owner of the dojo, which eventually became a non profit. He is forever grateful for the masterful Sensei and the community of people with whom he trained. Domo arigatou goziamasu! James also studied yoga, tai chi, and meditation during this time. He is always interested in exploring and deepening practices that align body, mind, and spirit. To this end, James is a self taught musician and encourages you to bring an instrument on the trip!! A wonderful way to break the language barrier….

James has led the Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and South Pacific semesters for Carpe Diem. He has also traveled independently in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. James believes that everyone has an innate intelligence that is far beyond the societal idea of “knowledge”. He also believes that by choosing to travel abroad, you are exercising this wisdom. He encourages everyone to bring an open heart, a spirit of humble curiosity, and a grand sense of humor. These are truly the best of travel companions!

Fun Facts

Jonathan George

Jonathan George

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Jonathan George

Overseas Educator

Jonathan was raised in the mountains of Colorado. With his father working for the U.S. Forest Service, and his mother passionate about the outdoors, Jonathan spent much of his youth camping, skiing, bike riding, and exploring. He was lucky enough to have a family that was passionate about travel, and summers vacations were spent discovering the country. At the age of 12, his family took him on his first international trip to Europe, and thus began his lifelong passion for exploring the world.

While pursuing a degree in French language in the University of Colorado at Boulder, he fed his love of the outdoors by spending his summers working for the U.S. Forest Service creating service projects for groups of AmeriCorps volunteers, and working with law enforcement as a Forest Protection Officer. Along the way, he somehow managed to become a professional ballroom dance instructor for a few years when he showed up to a new ballroom studio opening celebration and clumsily danced with a few attendees. He must have made a good impression, as the studio owners, who offered to pay for his training to become an instructor, told him he had great potential. Never being one to pass up an interesting experience, he agreed, which led to one of his first teaching positions, and the discovery of a new passion: Education.

While completing his degree at CU Boulder, Jonathan studied abroad in France, which opened his eyes to the power of experiential education. Being able to see and touch the world with his own hands while he simultaneously studied the area in which he found himself, was a transformative experience. Upon graduation, he found himself on a plane to Egypt to spend a month visiting his aunt and uncle, who were international educators. He ended up staying three years, teaching English, learning Arabic, and leading adventure tours in both Egypt and Jordan with Imaginative Traveller. For the next eight years he went on to lead adventure tours in South East Asia, Central America, and South America, amazed at the power cultural exchange could have on the lives of his groups, as well as the people visited. Between tours, he found time to become a PADI SCUBA instructor and taught diving in Honduras for six months. Jonathan returned to South East Asia to lead bicycling tours from Vietnam to Thailand and Myanmar for a season with Spice Roads Cycle Tours, and get in some time teaching diving by working on a small island in Indonesia for four months.

After nearly 10 years on the road exploring the world, and working in 20 countries, he decided to return to America to pursue his passion of education. He completed a Masters of Education, as well as received his secondary teaching license in French, Chemistry, and Biology. The last semester of his degree was spent teaching middle school French language in the American School of Bombay, in Mumbai India, where his passion for education was completely solidified.

Having been rather unfocused in his college years (not choosing a major until his 3rd year), Jonathan truly believes in the benefits a gap year can provide. He see’s the world as the best possible classroom, and is passionate about the experiential and place based education that Carpe Diem offers, which completely eliminates the gap in education between what students experience in a classroom, and what the real world expects of them. He could not be happier to be joining Carpe Diem Education, and being able to work with students in what will sure to be an amazing semester of learning and adventure in India.

Fun Facts

Loves learning language: Speaks French, Spanish, and Arabic, along with having “survival” language abilities in many others.

Loves swing dancing…..Lindy Hop is the greatest!

Rode a small scooter for 1000 miles across 3 islands in Indonesia as it seemed like it would be fun…..it was!
Has climbed 18 of the 54 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado, with a goal of doing all 54 sometime in his life.

Has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Bought a small, completely unsuitable, 1.2L engine car in England and drove 10,000 miles across Europe, Central Asia, and Russia, to Mongolia with his mother and father for charity.

Jonathan McDonald

Jonathan McDonald

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Jonathan McDonald

Overseas Educator

Hailing from Upstate New York, on the border of Canada and Vermont (yeah, that far north); Jon had the good fortune of belonging to a supportive family and having significant mentors who helped foster his growth as a Human. As such, depending on your views on Nature versus nurture, many of his shortcomings may be blamed on them.

Jon’s passion for the outdoors was cultivated in the Adirondack Mountains with Pok-O-MacCready Summer Camps. At Poko, Jon was able to safely expand his comfort zone, overcome his fears, learn about the natural world and create friendships he still holds to this day. Over a period of 16 years, Poko would become a second family to him as a camper, a counselor and eventually an Outdoor Educator.

Choosing to Study Adolescent Education at State University of New York at Oswego, Jon hoped to empower young minds and travel the world at the completion of his studies. As a student Jon jumped at every opportunity to contribute to his College community, serving as a Resident Mentor, organizing events with the Student Programming Board and participating in Student Government. Outside of student involvement, Jon was drawn to travel abroad through programming offered by Oswego. His first experience abroad (Canada was his backyard growing up, so he doesn’t quite count it) was a 2 week trip to Benin and France observing classes, learning about local culture, and assisting in a long term project to bring scientific calculators to classrooms across Benin. This trip helped serve as a catalyst for further world exploration later down the road. The following year he participated in an “Alternative Winter Break” service trip in Jamaica, hosted by his College. His final year of school was highlighted by Student Teaching in New Zealand – a decision that led him to stick around the country for a total of 13 months, ultimately causing Jon to skip out on his graduation ceremony. He’s apologized to his parents multiple times for this.
Coming back Stateside, Jon found the traditional classroom setting not to be the right fit for him. He chose to take on a job as an Outdoor Educator with Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center. For 3 years, Jon taught classes in High Adventure, Teambuilding & Leadership Development, Living History and Natural History to groups of students of all ages and backgrounds for up to a week at a time. A unique facet of his job was the inclusion of many Quebequois (French Canadian) student groups attending the center for English Immersion.

In addition to his travels listed above, Jon has also spent time in Iceland, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Jon is excited to be joining Carpe Diem this Fall as an Overseas Educator and is looking forward to working with his group of students.

Fun Facts

Jon knows from beginning to end how to dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

Jon has worked at 3 different haunted attractions, including one in New Zealand for 6 months!

Jon has spoken publicly in front of an audience of 3,000 people.

Kate Abraham

Kate Abraham

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Kate Abraham

Overseas Educator

As a child growing up in Wisconsin, Kate dreamed of becoming a teacher, a world traveler, or a dentist. Many years later she is proud to say she found a way to combine the former two while still maintaining an undiminished passion for teeth brushing. Kate’s many years of childhood family camping trips propelled her into the summer camp field of work at a young age, jumpstarting her ever present passion for encouraging youth and adult growth through experiential education.

Kate’s main passions in education are facilitating collaborative and personal leadership growth, conflict resolution, and character identification. Kate loves the diversity of strengths and weaknesses each individual possesses and is passionate about working with people to help them identify their own strengths and the strengths of others. Experiential education is the perfect platform for this exploration and growth and Kate has worked as a facilitator for a huge variety of groups, some of her favorites being groups of students from a scholarship program for first generation college bound students and the other being groups of students from Indigenous American Reservation schools. While some of these programs last only a short two days in Wisconsin, other leadership growth programs Kate has been fortunate to work for have taken her and her many students on expeditions in the Rocky Mountains, the Alaskan tundra, the waterways of northern Canada, and a number of other inspiring wilderness locations.

Kate’s passion for natural spaces leaks into her work and personal life frequently.
Though travel has always been present within Kate’s life since she was young (Thanks Mom, Dad, and the roadways of America!) it was the mountainous wilderness of Patagonia that finally lured Kate into purchasing her first one-way plane ticket. After a couple months of tromping around the Andes, Kate was hooked on international travel but felt as though an important element had been missing from her trip. She desired a stronger connection with the people and the culture of the places she traveled, not just the land, and her following international trips balanced touring with volunteering and living in local communities. She has, as a result, met countless kindhearted, inspiring individuals all over the world that continue to fuel her passion for self, community, and exploration through international travel. She was able to share her passion for making connections and volunteering with a group of western students during the summer of 2015 while leading trips in India and is ecstatic to be joining the Carpe Diem family, returning to India, a country saturated with culture, passion, and connectivity.

In Kate’s downtime she enjoys cooking, eating, impromptu dancing, trying to teach herself new skills, yoga, chatting, laughing, and being borderline too enthusiastic about nearly everything.

Fun Facts

Kate frequently works as a wilderness trip leader, which once enabled her to go seven weeks without showering. Fear not, for the sake of others she showered as soon as she could.

Kate struggles with parallel parking cars but is consistently successful at parallel parking canoes (in the water, of course. Not on the road.)

Kate has loved maps since a (should-have-been-stressful-but-Kate-found-it-fun) young childhood event in which she needed to navigate her father across all of Albuquerque, NM using only a paper road map and her own will to succeed. Her love of maps inspired her college career and she now holds a degree in cartography.

Kelsi Lyon

Kelsi Lyon

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Kelsi Lyon

Overseas Educator

Kelsi was raised in Eugene, Oregon by a Fire Fighter and a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. From a young age her mother’s students introduced her to different foods, values and world views that gave her a glimpse into the richness that diversity brings. Her love for adventure was developed through family road trips around the country, lots of time in the wilderness and a constant desire to experience things at a new level. At the age of 13, Kelsi decided it was high time to start rowing her own raft on her family’s whitewater expeditions.

There have been several events in Kelsi’s life that have been big turning points for her. During a sea kayaking trip in Mexico, she discovered the field of experiential education and re-awakened a love for life that had been dormant. She has since worked for Outward Bound for seven years, teaching sea kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, mountaineering and sailing. As crazy as it may seem, all of those nights of crawling exhausted into a wet sleeping bag or eating yet another bowl of burnt rice were well worth the discomfort to provide those transformative moments when someone appreciated life in a new way. In 2008, Kelsi received an invitation from her photographer uncle to travel with him through Burma. She was blown away by the mystery, culture and deep spiritual connection she experienced. This spurred over a year of traveling, volunteering and studying meditation in Southeast Asia and an insatiable desire to experience other magical places around the world and to give back to local communities.

Kelsi’s passion for creating inclusive, fun and enriching learning environments has led her to facilitate groups throughout the US, Mexico, Thailand, Burma, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Costa Rica and Panama. Her classrooms have included the open sea, village school houses, remote farms, bamboo huts, mountain tops and conference rooms. She has had the privilege to serve people of a wide variety of ages and backgrounds.

Currently, Kelsi is living on and off the coast of Maine. She recently celebrated the recovery of a broken ankle by walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from France. She keeps a vigilant lookout for her next big challenge and adventure, ways to make the world a better place and seeks to learn as much as possible from all of the wonderful people she encounters.

Fun Facts

During a sea kayaking trip in Mexico, she discovered the field of experiential education and re-awakened a love for life that had been dormant.

As an educator- Kelsi’s classrooms have included the open sea, village school houses, remote farms, bamboo huts, mountain tops and conference rooms.

Kelsi celebrated the recovery of a broken ankle by walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from France.

Kevin Floerke

Kevin Floerke

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Kevin Floerke

Overseas Educator

Originally from the wine country of Northern California, Kevin has had a lifelong passion for exploring. Beginning with daily after-school excursions into the canyons and woodlands near his home and bike rides along the backroads of his hometown, he has always been propelled by a desire to see what lies beyond the next bend. His thirst for adventure and new experience first took him abroad in 2006, when he travelled to China to compete in a global martial arts competition. This trip stoked his interest in international cultural exchange, and he soon moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA where he majored in anthropology and archaeology.


While instructing at the university rock climbing wall he met an archaeology professor in need of an experienced climber for a project in the highlands of Peru. This began a love affair with the Andes that would find Kevin working and travelling through South America every summer for the next seven years. He began an intensive study of the Inca Road System, hiking and surveying the mountains around Cusco, Peru looking for remnants of ancient roads and mapping their course around the former Inca capital. Most recently he has been exploring the cloud forests of the Vilcabamba region of Peru where he has been investigating the relationship of the Inca to their sacred landscape, and searching for previously undocumented archaeological sites.


Kevin is also active as a journalist and photographer. He uses his opportunities to travel to unique locations as a way to connect and inspire people around the world. He has written pieces on marginalized populations across the Americas including homeless children in Nicaragua and indigenous communities affected by environmental disasters and cultural change in the Amazon. He often encourages his students to take the opportunity to use semesters to document their experiences not only for personal growth and reflection, but to inspire meaningful conversations and work to create change. 


While all of these experiences have shaped him, Kevin’s true calling is education. He has led programs for high school students to Peru and Costa Rica, managed archaeological field schools for UCLA, and given lectures at universities in the US and Peru. He feels his greatest satisfaction comes from exchanging ideas and perspectives with his students. Kevin’s combined interest in travel, education and service called him to Carpe Diem, where he has shared his passion, experience and gratitude with groups of amazing young adventurers. He feels blessed and excited to have the opportunity to travel and learn alongside a new generation of thinkers and explorers!

Fun Facts

Kevin once got lost in the Peruvian countryside and accidentally discovered a previously undocumented Inca burial site.

Despite a history of contact sports, skateboarding, and other generally unadvisable activities, Kevin has never broken a bone. He has, however, broken his nose several times.

Kevin can recite the names of every U.S. President in chronological order in less than a minute. Seriously, ask him, he’ll do it.

Lauren Cain

Lauren Cain

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Lauren Cain

Overseas Educator

Lauren mostly grew up in Prescott, Arizona, except for the few years of elementary school when her parents decided to move the whole family to Adelaide in South Australia. Having been blessed with adventurous traveling parents who left maps of foreign lands laying all over the house, she developed a love for wandering around the world and learning about other cultures at an early age. Growing up with educator parents and helping them in their classrooms all through her childhood, it was natural that Lauren would end up a teacher herself. She attended Northern Arizona University and received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2010.

During the summers of her undergrad, Lauren volunteer taught in Ecuador, traveled internationally in Europe and Mexico, and learned the art of rock climbing and other outdoor skills in the beautiful Southwest. After graduating, she spent two years teaching 5th and 6th grade at an Expeditionary Learning charter school and taking her students on as many hands-on learning adventures as she could. Fueled by her passion for being outside and for education, she spent the summers leading trips for teenagers both domestically and internationally.

Realizing that she wasn’t quite yet ready to settle into full time teaching, Lauren decided to take a year off and travel around the world by herself. She spent this time climbing and traveling in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, obtaining her yoga teacher’s certification in Northern India, taking 21-day river trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and living out of a VW bus selling handmade jewelry. After this incredibly expanding trip, Lauren found herself called to pursue a master’s degree back in Arizona, and completed her M.A. in Sustainable Communities this May. Her research focused on ecological consciousness in outdoor education and models of authentic alternative learning. Currently, when not at Carpe, Lauren leads trips for the Colorado Outward Bound School out of Leadville, CO. Her long term goals include continuing to facilitate transformational learning experiences through travel and adventure, and eventually building a sustainable earthship and raising baby goats.

Fun Facts

Lolly Beck-Pancer

Lolly Beck-Pancer

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Lolly Beck-Pancer

Overseas Educator

Lolly’s first international travel experience was moving to San Diego, CA from Montreal, Canada shortly after entering the world. As soon as Lolly could form lasting memories, her mom, who lives by the philosophy that her three daughters become world citizens, let her choose an international destination. At 10, Lolly chose New Zealand and fell in love with the majestic landscapes and friendly folk who treated strangers like family. She vowed to return…

Off Lolly went to Pitzer College, where she designed a major in Global Health and Social Justice. Lolly’s education outside the classroom included teaching English in the Peruvian Altiplano as well as studying the impact of lead contamination on pregnant women in a village in Brazil. At college she facilitated experiential learning through community partnerships with a Day Labor Center and Juvenile Probation Camps outside Los Angeles.

After college Lolly taught English to hundreds of smiling Muslim high school students in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She loved the people and the unique fruits of Indonesia including salak and mangosteen. Upon returning to the States, she began a Master’s in Public Health in Health Education at Emory University with a belief that prevention and education are powerful tools for addressing social injustice. Her capstone project evaluated Farmers Market Incentive Programs’ ability to increase access to local fruits and vegetables for food insecure families. At Atlanta’s Truly Living Well’s Urban Farm Summer Camp, Lolly loved inspiring five-to-fifteen year-olds, to be the next generation of earth keepers. Motivated by a desire to address inequities through the intersection of wellness, conscious consumerism, and environmental sustainability and enraptured with the good food community, Lolly became a farmers’ market manager and food justice educator for Community Farmers Markets. In this role, Lolly planted Sungold tomatoes with elementary school garden clubs, turned smoothies green with a handful of kale, and did anything within her power to strengthen the local food movement.

With great difficulty Lolly pulled herself away from these amazing experiences to finally return to New Zealand. Through sun and rain she cycle-toured the South Island, supported child-led learning at the Golden Bay Community Gardens, immersed herself in permaculture at Solscape and Taunga Kereru Farm, and began to learn Te Reo Maori. 

Lolly is grateful to the teachers who have invested energy in making her a more compassionate inhabitant of the earth. She thrives on mutual inspiration, swimming in bright blue water, eating fresh fruit off the tree, and making friends across the age spectrum. If left to her own devices she would do yoga all day long.

Fun Facts

Lolly has never owned a car and loves to ride her bike wherever she calls home, from Los Angeles to Indonesia.

On Chincoteague Island, Lolly once swam out to a pod of wild dolphins who frolicked around her, she’s been part dolphin ever since.

Lolly’s greatest achievement is the incredible people she gets to call friends.

Mary Heinemann

Mary Heinemann

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Mary Heinemann

Overseas Educator

Throughout her youth Mary bounced around the country living in four states before officially settling in Colorado as a teen where she basked in the sunshine, friendliness, and scenery. She didn’t realize that moving around as a child created a deep seeded desire to continually seek out new adventures. After earning her degree in women’s studies and communication at Colorado State University, she moved to Seattle to start her next journey. There she continued her passion of working on women’s empowerment and health education.

Adventuring around the states was a wonderful start to finding herself but she knew she needed to explore some of the endless cultures of the world. While serving as a Health Extension Volunteer with the Peace Corps in a rural village of Tanzania she began to grow in unnamable ways. She embraced the beautiful East African culture, surrounded by the strong, “soul-fulfilling” women and she realized this place would forever be a home to her. She grew to speak fluent Swahili, worked on projects where she led, organized and collaborated with the community on various health related projects including; youth development, education and empowerment, chicken husbandry projects, Malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention and education, women’s empowerment through family planning and cooking classes and much more. She swam with whale sharks, went on 15 hour bus rides with no breaks, sang with crying mamas at funerals, guest spoke at stranger’s weddings, and discovered her new passion of cultural and experiential education.

She is an avid filmmaker, yogi, music aficionado and full-circle moment seeker. Nothing makes her happier than having a good, life conversation with a new or old friend under the stars. She has led trips to Tanzania and Nepal as well as traveled to China several times. Leading trips to her home of East Africa has been the most rewarding experience she has been privileged enough to have. Being able to share the beautiful culture with students while learning and growing together makes her heart swell. This will be her first semester with Carpe Diem and she is beyond excited to be surrounded by like-minded, traveling souls to start this new journey.

Fun Facts

I have a tattoo next to a scar I got while living in Tanzania on my back that says, Inaanza na Mimi, which translates to, It Starts With Me.

In college I rocked around town in a cute scooter that I named Duey. Even after getting hit by a car on it.

I have never been more of a geek than when I bombarded Dan Savage after a live show to tell him how huge of a fan I was and how listening to his podcasts during the Peace Corps made me smile every day. I could hear myself grin when he hugged me.

Matt Shamey

Matt Shamey

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Matt Shamey

Overseas Educator

Matt grew up in the woods of Western Massachusetts. Growing up, he romped through the forested hills and played in streams, excavating small alcoves as a refuge for the wayward turtles he found in the road. The turtles, however, rarely obliged his invitation for lodging and were gone by the next sunrise.

In high school, Matt gravitated towards the sports of ultimate and cross-country running. He poured his energy into these pursuits. After graduation, he spent a gap year working in Zion National Park before attending Grinnell College where he majored in Political Science. Although he developed an affinity for the undulating fields of corn and soy, he was ready to explore after years in Iowa. His travels first took him to the far reaches of western Brazil and in the following years he returned to Latin America leading cross-cultural immersion programs.

He returned to Western Massachusetts to serve as the Assistant Director of Global Education at Hampshire College, where worked with and supported the College’s international student population and advised students on study abroad opportunities. In this time, he also discovered Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga and feeling a strong attraction for the vitality of the practice immersed himself in the discipline and became a certified teacher.

Matt is extremely excited to join the Carpe Diem team and share his enthusiasm, knowledge and experience in connecting with people, places and oneself.

Fun Facts

Matt ran a marathon. Matt won a marathon.

Crossing a town park on an evening in June, he heard a whimpering and discovered an abandoned baby raccoon near a fire hydrant. That baby thusly became known as Sammy the Bandit – a true inquisitor & admirable companion.

Verified: on sultry summer nights in Iowa when the moon is high and the air is thick and one is willing to dirty one’s knees and crawl deep into the foment of corn, growth is truly audible.

Matthew Paffhouse

Matthew Paffhouse

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Matthew Paffhouse

Overseas Educator

Matthew was raised in a world of ever so slight divergent cultures, where he enjoyed being both confused and smitten with the different life narratives swirling around his childhood. Born to a liberal family but raised in the conservative land of Northern Michigan, he was a precocious social alchemist, mixing and matching the finest visions of these worlds alongside the ever present cultural fabric of the United States.

After surviving the long process of education from youth to college graduate, he decided to forgo the world of consulting in favor of a journey to explore the world and discover the frontiers of his emerging weltanschauung, his philosophical world view. Soon it was evident to him that no single philosophy or culture made perfect sense, so he took to refining his life-long passion of being an alchemist of experience and belief.

The journey lasted four magical years as he traveled to the monasteries of the mind through literature, of the spirit while studying Buddhism and Sufism in South Asia, and of the environment by embarking on expansive hikes in the mountain ranges of the world. In the summers he could be found floating on the river as a white water rafting guide, likening his journey down the river with his own path through life.

Seeking to contribute to the goal of improving global harmony and equality, Matthew then began a study of international relations in the TransAtlantic Masters Program from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Although he was enamored with his education and an inspiring internship with the United Nations, he decided that at present the best influence he can have on the world is by sharing his ardent belief and passion in the wondrous benefits that cultural exchange and experiential education can have on the individual and society.

Fun Facts

His favorite book to recommend is The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham.

Thinks few things are better in life than a great walk. Some of his favorites are solo treks around the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and the Salkantey trek in Peru (which if you’re on the South America semester, you’ll be stoked to be doing).

Once had his parachute not open when skydiving in the Czech Republic. Thinks that might have been one of the most present moments in his life.

Michelle Helman

Michelle Helman

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Michelle Helman

Overseas Educator

For the past decade, Michelle has worked between the US and Latin America as a youth educator to promote sustainable development and peace. She is passionate about employing Popular Education (a Brazilian education methodology to impact social change) as a tool to educate and change the world from the inside out – by helping people realize their innate potential and strengths, to identify resources and use them, and to make their dreams come true. Michelle has been part of the Carpe Diem Education community since 2012 in the roles of Overseas Educator, Latitudes Program Director, Hiring Committee Member, and Staff Leadership Trainer. Through this work, she is able to engage in some of her favorite activities: sitting in circles, teaching to learn, building community, traveling internationally, and serving as an ally, advocate, and educator for some of the world’s most awesome and courageous youth. In the midst of this lifestyle she doesn’t own a car, speaks fluent Spanish, and believes that anything is possible.
 
It all began in Chicago on a sweltering Tuesday in June back in the early 80’s. Fast-forward through a childhood filled with music, dance, gymnastics, and art to the game-changing experience that set Michelle onto her path to now. She studied and worked as a Teaching Assistant for a service-learning course at Colorado State University that incorporated volunteering and reflection. Michelle realized it is possible to learn outside of the classroom, and that meant the world became her classroom!
 
After graduating with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Illinois and a season each of Outdoor and Adventure Education, she joined the Peace Corps and served as a Youth Development Volunteer in Peru. For over two years, Michelle built leadership and improved the quality of life for at-risk youth – living in a village that had one telephone and running water three hours per day. Teaching yoga and mindfulness to pregnant teens was her most impactful project. This experience inspired Michelle to study yoga and eventually accrue over 750 hours of Yoga Teacher Training experience, develop and teach trauma-informed yoga curriculum in Spanish, and stand on her head every morning.
 
Yoga, her love of kale and riding bicycles landed Michelle in Portland where she has administered an academic enrichment program for at-risk youth, created a leadership and self-advocacy curriculum for Latin@ Immigrants, and mediated small-claims court cases. Michelle has been invited to speak about her work for organizations such as idealist.org, is an award-winning resume writer through the small business she owns, and is en-route to pursue a masters degree in the coming years, location tbd. She is excited to be leading another semester this time to the South Pacific!

Fun Facts

Michelle was helicoptered onto the biggest medical ship, USNS Comfort, while working as a Spanish medical interpreter where she met a famous bullfighter.

She picked up the violin in 2nd grade and played in symphony and chamber orchestras for over 15 years.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, Michelle worked with a group of students to build a solar oven that won the science fair.

Michelle Nance

Michelle Nance

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Michelle Nance

Overseas Educator

Michelle’s wanderlust developed at a young age, thanks in part to her family’s frequent moves. She developed an appreciation for the extraordinary natural beauty of the country. Whether it’s hiking in Yosemite or plunging into the blue depths of South Carolina lakes, she loves spending time outdoors and exploring new places.

Michelle’s love for exploration blossomed in the 1st grade, when her teacher introduced her to Spanish culture. She began to cultivate a fierce curiosity for different communities, customs and languages.

This passion followed her to college where she focused on international trade and the Spanish language. She spent a semester studying in Alicante, Spain, but found time to travel through Europe and northern Africa. She also interned in the Patagonia region of Chile developing deep relationships in the community. The travel opened her eyes to the roles (good and bad) of tourism and its impact on sustainable development in communities.

She returned to school to pursue her Masters in Parks, Recreation and Tourism, focusing her research on the relationship between microfinance and tourism opportunities in the developing world.

Michelle lived in Lobitos, Peru, from 2013-14, where she worked for WAVES for Development, an organization that unites community, social entrepreneurship and environmental health — and world class surfing!

Fun Facts

Member of the ACC Champion Women’s Rowing Clemson/member of the U.S. U23 Team

Michelle has spent the last four summers leading language immersion and service learning trips to Costa Rica.

Sailed from West Palm Beach Florida to Cuba on a 40-foot sloop sailboat

Peter Benassi

Peter Benassi

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Peter Benassi

Overseas Educator

Growing up in the burbs of Chicago, Pete always embodied a unique combination of adventurousness and sensitivity: in the karate studio he was Purple-Belt Pete, at the ice hockey rinks he was Slap-Shot Pete, and in school he was Pete the Poet. Now in his 20’s, not much has changed.

In college, Peter had the opportunity to do a field study in East Africa and a spend a semester in the Indian Himalayas. These experiences— along with an exchange semester in Amherst, Massachusetts and an internship teaching creative writing in Chicago Public Schools— earned him a B.A. in Education and Leadership from Prescott College in Arizona. Since graduating, Pete has worked as a backpacking camp counselor and coordinator in Durango, Colorado; an environmental educator in West Virginia; a wilderness therapy field guide in Virginia; and a service trip leader in Tanzania.

In addition, Pete is passionate about music, movies, reading, bicycles, and backpacking. He became a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in June 2016.

Pete is very excited to be a part of the Carpe Diem team and looks forward to sharing his passion for authentic and meaningful travel!

Fun Facts

Was gifted an (organic!) handmade arrow by hunter-gatherer pals in the Hadza tribe while camping in Tanzania.

Serendipitously couch-surfed in Lyon, France during the spectacular Fête Des Lumieres (an amazing festival of lights!).

Rode a bicycle from California to Colorado— spontaneously slept in the yards of many friendly strangers, including biking legend Inga Thompson (a very gracious host with lovely cows!).

Rachel Anderholder

Rachel Anderholder

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Rachel Anderholder

Overseas Educator

Rachel grew up in Renton, WA just outside of Seattle and spent her youth busy playing softball and singing in choir. When she was 13 she was lucky enough to go to Japan through a sister city exchange program with 11 other middle schoolers from her hometown. While only in Japan for 10 days, the tears that came when leaving new found friends and culture behind were intense. It was a while before she would travel again, but that experience changed something in her, and made her much more interested in exploring.

Late in college, the stars aligned and Rachel was able to study abroad in Sevilla, Spain. That was the beginning of the rest of her life. She loved learning Spanish and being immersed in another culture. After graduation, Rachel decided she wasn’t ready to pick some random career and “settle down,” that there was far too much out there to explore. She lived in Washington and Colorado working odd jobs to make travel to South America possible. She then took a 6 week US road trip with her future husband, Bryce, camping in the back of their truck and staying with friends. Finally, Rachel decided she wanted to try her hand at teaching, so she and Bryce packed their bags and moved to Costa Rica, where Rachel got a job teaching English to pre-schoolers, kindergartners and first graders. She determined that teaching wasn’t for her – but that working to improve educational quality was her calling.

Rachel went on to get her master’s in international development at Concordia University in Portland, traveling to Italy and Ecuador, and became attached to the concept of place-based education, making learning relevant to students where they are. Throughout graduate school, Rachel interned with Carpe Mundi, Carpe Diem’s nonprofit sister organization. Rachel was eventually lucky enough to land a full time gig with Carpe Mundi, working with Portland area scholarship students. While she loves mentoring students in the US, she is thrilled to share her love of Latin America and the life-changing experience that is travel with her Carpe Mundi students.

Fun Facts

Rachel played softball in college and sang the national anthem wearing her catcher’s gear at every home game.

Rachel and her husband Bryce just adopted a puppy and kitten. They’re 10 weeks old and will be best friends.

Rachel lived in the Galapagos Islands during graduate school and discovered that the sea lion is her spirit animal.

Rachel Milito

Rachel Milito

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Rachel Milito

Overseas Educator

Rachel grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, and went on her first camping trip before she was potty trained (a fact which, in retrospect, her father regrets immensely). She spent much of her childhood running wild through the White Mountains in New Hampshire on regular camping trips with family and friends, where she became accustomed to living outdoors and cultivated a love for adventure.

Her first foray into foreign living came at age 17, when she spent a summer in Mexico learning Spanish. With this first experience of traveling abroad came the realization that learning a new language and integrating herself into a foreign culture was more challenging than she had expected, and she decided to dedicate her college career to learning languages and gaining experience living in other countries.

Rachel studied at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she majored in Culture and Politics, focusing specifically on the experiences of immigrants arriving in the US. In her four years at college, she took classes in Spanish, Portuguese, Quechua, and Arabic. She also spent two summers working in Central America and a semester studying in Peru. During her time at Georgetown she became involved in Washington’s immigrant community through her involvement in an ESL tutoring program with youth and adults. She also learned a great deal about the complicated nature of our increasingly globalized economy by standing in solidarity with local and international workers fighting for their rights.

Determined to forestall living in the “real world” for as long as possible, Rachel has dedicated herself the world of experiential education. During the summers she leads canoeing and backpacking trips in Maine for the Outward Bound. In past lives, Rachel has worked at a high school, a progressive think tank in Washington, DC, and an organic farm in Vermont.

Rachel is excited to join the Carpe Diem team and can’t wait to see what new adventures are in store for her.

Fun Facts

Rachel plays the tuba and was the top tuba player in her state when she was in high school.

Rachel has traveled to 19 countries (and counting…)

Rachel loves to cook! Her favorite thing to make is pizza for her friends.

Rebecca Wolff

Rebecca Wolff

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Rebecca Wolff

Overseas Educator

Born in the U.S.A but grown up in both England and Canada as a kid, Rebecca was born an avid traveler with a dose of wanderlust. While in school, she decided that life in Canada wasn’t exciting enough. Rebecca first visited South America in 2010 as part of youth leadership program, and promptly fell in love with the culture and beauty of Ecuador. Feeling very much at home in the Andean highlands, she made it her goal to return to South America in a way that would create more positive and lasting impact on the communities she had gotten to know.

Over the next 6 years Rebecca would end up spending every summer in Peru. She has worked on local health initiatives with Quechua communities in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco, and with Shawi and Shipibo communities in various regions of the Peruvian Amazon on how climate change is affecting community health.

While studying Biology and Spanish at the University of Guelph, Rebecca embarked on an independent research initiative of her own. She received funding from the National Geographic Society as a National Geographic Young Explorer for what became a 2-year project in the Peruvian Amazon. Rebecca looked at how cultural and spiritual beliefs impact treatment and diagnosis of illness in Indigenous communities.

After her time spent working with incredible Indigenous Peruvian communities, and later through a Fellowship involving Canadian Indigenous health, Rebecca has become an activist of Indigenous rights and health in both Peru and Canada. She has worked as a human-centered design consultant on Indigenous health curriculum for medical schools. As well, Rebecca is an independent freelance anthropologist turned writer, covering the impacts of oil spills on Indigenous health in the Amazon.

It was her first youth leadership program in Ecuador that fundamentally changed Rebecca’s life and redirected her towards her passions for South America, Indigenous peoples, and global health. It also inspired her to make that opportunity possible for other students and share her experiences and love of the region with students. Over the last 3 years, Rebecca has lead youth leadership programs in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, across themes involving entrepreneurship, global health, and social transformation. She sees intercultural exchange as a key part of creating the future leaders of today, and seeks to promote learning, growth, and exploration through travel and adventure!

Fun Facts

Used to be a nationally ranked cross-country and track runner.

During university Rebecca travelled across India for four months and ate a minimum of one dosa a day.

You can hear Rebecca’s voice in the Johnny Depp movie ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’.

Ryan Egan

Ryan Egan

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Ryan Egan

Overseas Educator

Ryan was born and raised in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona. He thanks his father for instilling in him a love for adventure and the outdoors, as well as for removing all of the cactus spines from various parts of his body.

During college, Ryan spent two summers exploring Southeast Asia and subsequently discovered a love for international travel. He later spent a semester studying sustainable tourism development in Mexico, where he refined his Spanish skills while living with a host family. In 2004, Ryan completed a BS in International Hospitality Management from Northern Arizona University.

A year later, he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Peru where he spent two years assisting coffee farmers with a variety of development projects. Ryan stayed an additional year in Peru as a Volunteer Leader, guiding and supporting a group of volunteers working in the snow-capped highlands of central Peru. He later returned to serve as a Peace Corps trainer for Peru’s Small Business Development program. While Peace Corps provided Ryan with many life lessons (and a few parasites), it also gifted him with a best friend – Cheridyn.

When not in Peru (or scheming the next escape to Peru), Ryan loves spending mornings with Cheridyn dreaming together over coffee. He can also be found ankle-deep in a trout stream or planning fishing trips and disguising them accordingly so that Cheridyn will agree to come. Since joining the Carpe family in 2012 Ryan has led the Southeast Asia, South America, and South Pacific programs.

In addition to leading for Carpe, Ryan and Cheridyn support the Memory Project (www.memoryproject.org), which involves gifting hand-painted portraits to children around the world who have been orphaned or disadvantaged. To date he has delivered more than 30,000 portraits to children in 15 countries.

To Ryan, meaningful international travel creates the ideal environment for introspection and reflection. He loves facilitating this beautiful process of discovery and growth for young adults.

Fun Facts

Ryan served the Peace Corps in Peru assisting coffee farmers with a variety of development projects- he stayed an additional year as a Volunteer Leader and later returned to serve as a Peace Corps trainer for Peru’s Small Business Development program.

Ryan can be found ankle-deep in a trout stream or planning fishing trips and disguising them accordingly so that Cheridyn will agree to come.

Ryan and Cheridyn support the Memory Project, which involves gifting hand-painted portraits to children around the world who have been orphaned or disadvantaged.

Favorite Quote:

“If the culture doesn’t work for you, don’t buy it – create your own.” – Morrie from Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

Sheldon Ito

Sheldon Ito

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Sheldon Ito

Overseas Educator

Here are a few things you should know about Sheldon: 1) He doesn’t like writing bio blurbs because he doesn’t think the form really suits its function and things like that upset him. The word “persnickety” comes to mind. 2) He’s flexible enough to bow to convention and say that he’s from Honolulu, where, btw, he’s never heard the word “persnickety” uttered. Not even as a joke. 3) Although reluctant to and pretty bad at bio writing he does want you to get to know him (and vice versa). Here are a few conversation starters that if he were a German Shepherd, would make his ears stand up and rotate in your direction: a) “You’ve been sailing a ton for Outward Bound over the past four years, what do you love about it so much?” b) “You never trained as an actor and have no interest in it, but you were on the X-Files tv show twice. Who thought that was a good idea?” c) “Your writing reminds me of both David Foster Wallace and Ernest Hemingway, but without the talent of either, is that why you don’t talk about your writing?”

And if you really want to know him: d) “What about Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” do you find so upsetting?” e) “Explain again how the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle applies to Hedberg’s theorem that Bigfoot is blurry.” f) “You think Hotline Bling is highbrow art? You really think that?” g) “Wait, your drivers license says Cambridge, Massachusetts, you work on boats in Maine and Florida, and now you’re going to Thailand with us, but, like, where do you live?”

Sheldon, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, was a founding teacher of Expeditionary Learning charter schools in Brooklyn, New York and Saint Paul, Minnesota, and has traveled extensively in Thailand, Ecuador and Mexico. A recent trip to Tokyo netted him a deep appreciation for pod-like sleeping quarters and an illogical conviction that he is one of the select few who knows where to find the best ramen in the city. He finds referring to himself in the third person oddly liberating and is excited to join the staff at Carpe Diem this Fall.

Fun Facts

Second fastest boy in the 5th Grade (could never beat Malcolm Chow) at Wai’alae Elementary School. Wai’alae is also the alma mater of musician Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole (never met him, but his cousin Chris was in my grade).

Former member of the Hawai’i Carpenter’s Union Local 745.

Would love to build his own ukulele one day, but right now just looking for one to take to Thailand. Hopes you like music.

Simon Yugler

Simon Yugler

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Simon Yugler

Overseas Educator

As an undergraduate at the University of Vermont, Simon was awarded a grant to travel to a remote corner of Australia’s Northern Territory and catch an ethnographic glimpse into one of the oldest indigenous cultures on Earth. Since graduating in 2011, he has made a life of international travel, traversing regions of the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. He’s worked with the Nile Project, a cross-cultural musical endeavor while living on the banks of the Nile, traveled East Africa overland, participated in Zimbabwean ancestral ceremonies, and studied with a family of indigenous shamans in the Peruvian Amazon. His writing has been published in Conscious Traveller Magazine and the book, ReInhabiting the Village. Fluent in Spanish and proficient in KiSwahili, Simon currently leads gap-year and study abroad trips throughout the world with Carpe Diem and National Geographic Student Expeditions. He writes about travel, world cultures, and spirituality for his blog, Travel Alchemy.

Fun Facts

Simon was adopted by an Aboriginal Australian tribe during his time on the continent in 2009.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Simon went to the same high school as the creator of “The Simpsons.” He even had the inspiration for the character “Mr. Burns” as his journalism teacher.

Simon has traveled to over 20 countries, visited world heritage sights across the world, and still considers Portland his home.

Suzannah Crandall

Suzannah Crandall

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Suzannah Crandall

Overseas Educator

Suzannah, born and raised in northern Wisconsin, grew up eating cheese and playing outside. Her love for exploring nature and traveling began at a young age during family camping trips and a stint in Germany at the age of 10. Suzannah pursued her love for the environment and travel studying abroad in Costa Rica while obtaining her degree in biology.
After college, she was able to combine her desire to fully immerse herself in another culture and pass on her appreciation for the environment as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. She spent two years in Paraguay working with schools and her community on environmental education projects. Her most memorable experiences include drinking mate with her neighbors, enduring the Paraguayan heat, and laughing through the language snafus.

Her desire to work in the environment with students pushed Suzannah to pursue teaching environmental education in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and later in Wisconsin running an outdoor skill development program for high school youth.
Most recently, she has had the pleasure of traveling and working in central and south America with a student leadership program. Suzannah is excited to be part of the Carpe Diem team and support students during their experience.

Fun Facts

Ha’e oñe’ekuaa Guarani. She speaks Guarani, an indigenous South American language.

Suzannah grew up on a hobby farm and has mad chicken raising and gardening skills.

One of Suzannah’s favorite spots is under the canopy of cocoa trees in Costa Rica. She spent several months researching the growth of cocoa pods and tabulating monkey, parrot and fungus damage to the pods.

Favorite Quote:

“As you go through life, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.”

Topher Stephens

Topher Stephens

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Topher Stephens

Overseas Educator

Born to wonderful hippy parents in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Topher was raised on a healthy diet of creek water, hugs, and folk music . Although the blue-green hills of Appalachia have always awed and nurtured him, from a young age he has been called to wander. His first international adventure came in the form of a high school exchange program to Costa Rica when he was 16. Although he interpreted the “high school” portion of the program quite loosely, the exchanges he had with the locals while surfing, hiking, and chatting over banana milkshakes kindled a lifelong passion for cultural exchange and reinforced his belief that real learning happens outside of the classroom. He returned home to finish his education, choosing a degree in biology so that he could spend as much time as possible in the forest. A strong advocate for gap-years, Topher broke up his own undergraduate studies by taking a year long, around-the-world trip to study ecologically sustainable communities and to volunteer on organic farms across India, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. Upon returning home and graduating from UNC Asheville, Topher began to formally apply his passion for out-of-the-box education. Working in a holistic Integral Model school, a Meher Baba spiritual camp, and teaching banjo and guitar lessons on the side, he bided his time until he secured his dream-job: Overseas Educator for Carpe Diem Education.

Topher uses his travels as opportunities to learn and exchange ideas about sustainability, community, culture, and creativity. He is intrigued by the meditative and philosophical traditions of the East and the ways that those traditions are colliding with and influencing Western culture. He is currently studying Wilderness Meditation, Deep Ecology, and Sacred Activism which offer him hope and fortitude in the face of the social and ecological crises of our time. He loves working with and learning from young adults, whose inquisitiveness and youthful energy give him the opportunity to meet each experience with fresh eyes and an open heart. Deriving his sense of fulfillment from moments of beauty, clarity, and connection with the people and places he encounters, he considers himself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. Whether it is meditating quietly in a monastery, singing harmony to an old folk song, sweating alongside a farmer in a paddy field, or laughing and playing games with his students and co-leader, Topher is striving to stay fully present for the miracles that happen in every moment and practice copious amounts of gratitude for each one.

Fun Facts

Topher spent last summer counting birds in the prairie-sagebrush of Eastern Montana where he discovered his spirit animal: the burrowing owl, which is essentially a hobbit with wings.

Topher was the undefeated arm-wrestling champion of his kindergarten class (although this title was disputed by many students who thought he should have been disqualified for being the teacher).

Topher has been called many things in his life including “T”, “Toph-money”, “Toph-dog”, “Toph-dizzle”, “Toph-drizzle”, “Toph-digglet”, “Diggles”, “Diggledorf”, “Toe”, “Tophs”, “Tophstafari”, and “Tophster Strudle”. Needless to say, he is aware that his name rhymes with gopher and expects a bit more originality than that.