Every summer, NatureBridge and Alcoa Foundation partner to bring international high schoolers together to rough the wild in Yosemite and Shenandoah National Parks. In the process, they camp under the stars, pioneer off the beaten track climbs, and build integrity: physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. This year’s Alcoa Scholar community was chosen from a worthy pool of candidates who possessed the greatest commitment to cross-cultural communication, community leadership through cross-pollination of ideas, and fearless commitment to nature.

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The scholars reflect on their time in Yosemite and Shenandoah National Parks. Read a preview of their remarks below, and finish the full text at NatureBridge.

Maitland, 17, Australia:

I believe a strong, close community is better for everyone, improving our sense of being and belonging and that by actively participating I can help others and build a better place to live as well as enable more to be accomplished. I believe the environment is an integral part of any community and recognize the important role it provides in sustaining and enriching our lives and our need to protect and restore it for future generations.

Talia, 17, USA:

My favorite experience in nature was going on a three day backpacking trip in the Appalachian Mountains. This trip pushed the limits of what I thought I could handle physically and emotionally. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the feeling of being one with myself and nature. I loved falling asleep under the stars every night, and the views from the tops of the mountains we hiked were mind blowing. I can’t wait to try more activities like these!

Eysteinn, 18, Iceland:

Selection in the Alcoa Scholars program will help me achieve my goals by giving me a chance to form relationships with people from other countries. It will also be an opportunity to become more independent before I move to another country. Hopefully along with working on my leader skills to help me with my future business.

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Read the source article at NatureBridge