What Others Say about LEAPYEAR
Articles about LEAPYEAR and LEAPYEAR Students in the Media:
- Limitless Leap - "Seventeen-year-old Tallie Winquist walked alone each day through a village in northern India. Calling it a trip through time, she watched as indigenous women carried clay pots on their heads, while others milked cows or looked after naked children as they played, scurrying through the subcontinent's ancient dust. Unlike most other American girls her age, Tallie was not on her way to study English in a local classroom--she was there to teach it. For her, traveling to the East was the opportunity of a lifetime and a personal leap into a bold new future..." (The Bohemian)
- Juneau sisters get college credit while traveling the globe - "When Tessina Davidson was caring for cheetahs in Africa this year and her sister, Jessica, was salsa dancing in Cuba last year, both were earning college credits. No, they are not daughters of international diplomats but recent Juneau-Douglas High School grads who, like many of their peers, were not sure what to do with their lives..." (Associated Press)
- Ashland High School Alum Takes Year Off From College To Study In India - Briana Lescher, a 2005-06 LEAPYEAR India student, held a community fundraiser to help her pay for tuition. "'I look at this as such an amazing opportunity,' Lescher said. 'I think we live in a bubble in the U.S. I think itç—´ important to increase our knowledge of what the world has to offer and different ways of living. I'm really excited to see how I deal with certain unexpected challenges. I expect to gain more clarity about myself and the world around me...'" (Ashland Daily Tidings)
FEEDBACK RECEIVED FROM STUDENTS:
From a woman on her internship in Spain in 2015, near the end of her LEAPYEAR:
I was just rereading some of the writings I did last summer for my application to LEAPYEAR. Wow, I can't believe how much I've grown. There is no way to describe the gratitude I have for the amazing journey I have had as a part of VIVA. I found this little snippet from the Intentions and Agreements Reflection on my prediction for where I would be by the end of this year:
I will have outstanding communication skills, and be able to navigate my way through unknown cities. I will be able to recognize and feel my own emotions, and be more in tune with myself. I will have stepped out of my comfort zone a million times, and will willingly do it a hundred times more. My life will be so different next summer, and I believe that I will have heard my inner voice. After LEAPYEAR, I will live by my improved, authentic self.
I have gotten the tools for all this and more.
I'm so grateful that I get to be a part of this wonderful family that we have created. I am in awe of each of you for the work you are doing, as I can tell from each check-in that no day has been wasted between us. I'm counting down the days till Maacama!From a student who suffered through school because of significant dyslexia – this is her response to a video by Ken Robinson detailing the damage that can be caused by traditional schooling:
Oh my god. I am sitting in a Kinko’s at 1:30 in the morning and I just had tears rolling down my cheeks. this is incredible. I am kinda speechless, this, this is exactly what I have been trying to say. This is what I wanted to say to that woman I was sitting next to on the airplane on the way to my internship, this is what I want to say to my co-workers son, this is what I want to say to every teacher I have had, to all the lost children that I have seen and suffered with. To all those people who looked down their noses at us and told us that we were not good enough, who kicked us aside without even bothering to look because why would they have to when the numbers said it all. Now I am kinda full on crying, I dont even care. Thank you for being one of those people who is willing to step into the future, the future is not even possible unless we can imagine it, and are willing to risk the present to get there. Thank you Sam and Cassie and all the staff and all the leapers, I truly thank you from the deepest corners of my being. Thank you for imagining.
"I am so incredibly amazed by this year and this experience I have just completed. It's as though the world has opened its arms to me, and I know that
I will continue to achieve all that I dream of.
I am filled with more gratitude and more love and more respect than I had ever thought possible. This year is one I will hold in my heart forever. I have come out a new person, and I feel complete. I found something this year that had been missing in my life. My mind often drifts to the laughs we have shared together, the tears we have shared together, the experience we have shared together.
This program is life-changing, eye-opening, and truly one of a kind. I had never expected to gain this much, and I have realized I still have a whole life ahead of me. You are people I will never forget, and I cannot wait to meet again, and hug you.
Thank you for the lessons, thank you for love, and thank you for giving me back my life."
Suzie! DO LEAPYEAR!
I remember those same feelings uneasiness. I can assure you that LEAPYEAR was the best thing that's ever happened to me. It is very intense, and in all ways possible (i.e emotionally, physically) but all the experiences come together for you to form an incredible bond with your group, the world surrounding you, your teachers and, most importantly, yourself. No one will ever ask you to change who you want to be, it’s only for you to strengthen the wonderful person I am sure you already are. They will push you to ask yourself hard questions and traveling abroad is inherently challenging, but it is a terrific ride. It was honestly the greatest year of my life, thus far. In one year, I taught first grade, learned to SCUBA dive, rocked babies to sleep at an orphanage, attempted to speak Spanish with my families and learned to love it, re-discovered my passion for writing, rode on top of a bus through the highlands of Guatemala, lost my Grandmother to cancer, lived in Uganda by myself, helped to establish an orphanage school, went whitewater rafting on the Nile, saw a lion, saw people dying of AIDS and held their hands, spent hundreds of hours running after happy kids, ate more beans then I thought humanly possible and learned to love 13 other people in the deepest way possible. I could keep listing things for hours. Anyway, I hope I didn't ramble too much. You should expect daily yoga and meditation AND a psychological overhaul, but only in the way that is perfectly unique to you and what you need. You get what you put into the program, as in all things in life. I hope this was in some way helpful. But YES! DO LEAPYEAR!!!!!
I went to orientation for CU-Boulder the other day. It was very interesting. We did a lot of 'don't underage drink' kind of workshops which I thought were pretty interesting but no one else did, which was also interesting. It was kind of hard to handle sometimes though. There i was, sitting and listening to these professors give speeches about how university prepares you for real life and how instead of getting your dinner served on your table by your mom you have to make your treacherous way to the dining hall to get it served on your tray that you then have to bring to a table. It was really hard for me to sit there and listen to that when I've seen such poverty where people don't have tables, let alone food and also when I've lived on my own, going to the grocery store and making dinner all in a Third World country and speaking a different language.
The following poem was written by the LEAPYEAR India group who completed their program on April 30th, 2008. As an expression of gratitude, they wrote this "Ode to Maacama." (Maacama is the name of our California campus.) The fourteen members of the group each contributed one stanza to the poem. The poem expresses aspects of the less visible value they derived from completing a LEAPYEAR:Ode to Maacama
Thank you for reminding me to breathe,
for seeing me and helping me to see.
Thank you for guiding me to the ability to flow like a river, that awareness is the only way to lasting happiness.
Thank you for being home in the truest sense, for calling me back each time I need the reminder. Of the constant journey, the ebb and flow, remembering to laugh along the way.
To the home that gave me home, thank you for being the finger that showed me the moon.
From a single lush drop of water the world is washed like an ocean with joy. Thank you for ferocity.
Thank you for showing me my true self, and for guiding me so that I learn to stand on my own two feet and trust my own heart.
Thank you for embodying the change you teach, for creating a space to be vulnerable, and for rooting me in awareness.
Thank you for lighting up my sorrows, and bringing me to newfound level ground. Thank you for helping me discover a set of permanent values in the world of impermanent necessities.
Thank you for being the voice for integrity within my life.
Thank you for being you.
Thank you for everything, for that is what you give, love and support when we are far from home.
Thank you for giving me life where I did not know I had none.
Thank you for a dreamer's heart, a living promise of what can be.
Thank you for passion, for laughing and crying, for loving and dying, right beside us, a thousand times over.
A letter received on 11/14/2010 from a graduate of the 2008/09 LEAPYEAR:
I'm currently a sophomore at the University of Colorado- Boulder and loving every minute of it. I'm being a normal college kid, but I still retain the values I learned from LEAPYEAR and remember my experiences every day. I really appreciate everything you did for me during LEAPYEAR. It was truly a life-changing experience. You'll be happy to know that our entire group has a message thread on Facebook, and we frequently update everyone else about our lives. We're still incredibly close as a group, and it's wonderful.
Email received on 11/15/2010 from a member of the 2005/06 LEAPYEAR class:
A few days ago I saw the movie "Waiting for Superman" and walked out of the theater eternally grateful that I have had the opportunity to a part
of a program that believes in approaching ones educational journey from an entirely different perspective. It would be an understatement to say that
this movie's appearance in my life was timely. I am again going through the college application process and finding myself being judged by numbers and
scores which seem so irrelevant--hardly indicative of who I am or my capabilities. And I find myself frustrated by a system that had not prepared
me--especially emotionally--for much more than passing a standardized test, a system which only shone the light down one path, a system that made me
feel so wrong and so alone. Then I have moments of remembering LEAPYEAR. LEAPYEAR was the first time in my life I ever felt unconditionally loved.
It was the first time I ever ever felt steady. It was the first time I ever caught a glimpse of what existed at my core. It was the first time teachers
had held me and made me feel safe and whole.
And all of these thoughts are impossible to ignore when I am asked to put a check mark in a box to select a major. When I know there are children who feel like they aren't good enough or capable enough or won't be seen unless the number is right. Thank you for seeing such a deep need. I hope all is well there on that sacred hilltop. I think of you all often and send lots of love. Can't wait until our paths cross again.
Emails to their group by three members of the 2009/10 LEAPYEAR program on the occasion of the first anniversary of the beginning of their LEAPYEAR (8/31/2010):
I can't believe it's already been a year! It all went by so fast. I feel like it was just yesterday that I found LEAPNOW. We've been through so
much this year and I am so grateful to have met each and every one of you, and gone through what we went through together. I can definitely say it was
the most challenging but rewarding year of my life so far. I want to thank to thank all of you for everything you've given me and know that I appreciate
each of you so much! I know that I was stubborn and difficult at times, but know that I find myself still thinking about and learning from all the things
that we did this year. I learned a lot this year and I feel like slowly I am piecing things together and finding my way in life. Continually growing and
moving forward. And I'm happy. Like really happy. I feel content in my life and in myself. And for this, I love LEAPYEAR, the staff at Macaama, our group
and all the people I have met over this past year, because I know I wouldn't be here today without it all. So thank you.
Wow yeah a whole damn year... so fully lived it blows my mind! I love that I got to (and still am getting to) learn from and with you all. How to love, how to play and laugh and not take myself so damn seriously. But also accepting and breathing and working and crying and letting go and going deep and... and... and... the list goes on and on :) it really has been a year of life guys! thank you all and me too! I deeply appreciate you all. Remember the fondue feeding night? Mmm!
It's been about one year since the day we all met each other.......one amazing year. one fast year that's for sure. I remember that day as if it were yesterday.....stepping into the bunkhouse......our first appreciation circle, with Kayla holding my hand with excitement!.....I remember how numbed out I was.....so not in the moment. Not really sure where I was in life...I remember that amazing first week...trying to find some emotion, forcing myself to cry...forcing myself to laugh...then that amazing couple of months..... crying and laughing uncontrollably in the most purest way. My whole life I always wanted someone to call my best friend...without a doubt....someone I could tell my all to....someone I could call without hesitation...someone I knew wouldn't judge me or backstab me...This year I found that person....well, way more than one, a whole group of best friends. I love you all so much, SO much. Lets all remember this day a year ago...as it was probably one of the most unforgettable days of our lives! =]
A note received on 4/15/07 accompanying a college graduation announcement. This student completed his LEAPYEAR in May of 2004 (Maacama is the LEAPYEAR campus):
Thank you for being the spark that lit my fire of exploration, love and enchantment.
I still feel Maacama pumping through my veins! Love and gratitude.
Before LEAPYEAR, I struggled with my arrogance and deceptive actions. Please remember that you have guided me to truth, integrity and a capable will. Many thanks and many blessings!Email rec'd 10/26/07 from a LEAPYEAR Central America graduate. She did her internship in Australia in Spring 2007, and is now living there again:
I am back in Australia. In Melbourne at the moment but I am living in Sydney. Its amazing. I am so happy. Ridiculously happy. Everything is just as I want it to be. I have found my bliss and I am living every moment of it. I think of LEAPYEAR and the group and all you at Maacama (the LEAPNOW campus) every day. Always there will be a place in my heart for each of you. You all supported me so much and really gave me beautiful wings to spread and now I have flown.Postcard from LEAPYEAR student on his internship in Cambodia on 10/29/2007 - The postcard shows Cambodian children with a cage full of birds:
Dear LEAPYEAR staff, The back of a postcard is far too small to dance thoroughly with caged bird metaphors. Let me just say that they sell caged birds at the pagoda here, so Buddhists can buy them, and free them for merit. I feel like a freed bird, purchased with your hard work and deep love. I owe my freedom to your intentions, and its manifestation from the discovery of my own intentions. Greetings from Cambodia and deep love and thanks!Email from LEAPYEAR student - from Varanasi, India - received 10/2007:
...nothing has ever been more fulfilling and growth provoking than my experiences within LEAPYEAR thus far. I feel completely committed to my group, to this sharing of community, to feedback, and to witnessing Life alongside perspectives other than my own. Being here with these people has taught me so much. Participating in the first retreat taught me so much, and opened me to the possibilities of whatever is to come. I could never express how grateful I am to the staff, for allowing that space to exist. For the first time in my life, I really feel like an adult. And that power is coming from within myself. Unfinished, undefined...but equal. Challengeable, malleable...but fearless. Not to say that I feel invincible. I just have never been able to allow so much joy to fill my being, and to feel so at peace even though there have been some periods of physical and emotional discomfort here...sometimes pain. I can only expect there is more to come, but I feel ready to let it Be.Email from LEAPYEAR alum - received 7/20/2007 - the student did LEAPYEAR in 2005/06:
To the staff of LEAPYEAR, a program that continues to shape me into the human being I am today: The memories I have are stored as photos on my computer,
or conversations with my LEAPYEAR family, but the subtleties of my experience show up everyday. These instances are drawn from my being, times where I
make a decision or talk about myself and I realize how one I have become with my life experiences. The times, such as today, when I get to actually talk
about LEAPYEAR separate from my personal journey...the hard skills I learned, the places I went and the experiences I had all told from the heart...
I can't help but become passionate.
I am so proud of my resume, a testament to me and what I have accomplished. I remember when I first signed up for the program, I wanted to become a man of action due to how passive I was rolling through life. The traveling and inner journey woke me up and fueled a desire to learn about myself and the world, with a direction through food/wine.
None of this happened by accident, which is why I wanted to write to the LEAPYEAR staff and remind you that you have done wonderful things and continue to do so with your program. Quite simply, Thank You.
"...LEAPYEAR so far has been the most meaningful year of my life. I have learned more and grown more in this time than I ever thought imaginable...certainly more than my year in university or in all 4 years of high school put together. From LEAPYEAR I have gained a powerful foundation for a life of growth, meaning, clarity, and integrity. With the tools LEAPYEAR has given me, I discover more each day what it means to live a life of learning, loving and ever-returning to myself and my path."
FEEDBACK RECEIVED FROM PARENTS OF STUDENTS:
Email received 2/19/2015 from the father of a student, following the Rite of Passage ceremony:
Sam and Cassie,
I wanted to set aside a few moments to express my heartfelt gratitude to both of you and for your wonderful program. The Rite of Passage weekend was a deeply profound experience for Christina and I. We both felt a fundamental shift in our relationship with Nick and we truly believe his time at Maacama has fundamentally shifted how he perceives himself and the world around him. I know your admission packet states that LEAPNOW is not designed as therapy, but it’s obvious from talking to Nick and some of the other students that each of them came into the program with their own demons to face. Your program forced light into the dark areas of their hearts and made them really look inward and release so many of the those demons that have been holding them back. The program has also done wonders in allowing Christina and I to open ours hearts to new thoughts and ideas, and in that process we have been able to release some of our own failures and shortcoming as parents. We see our son in a new light and suddenly his future and ours seems that much brighter as a result.
I wish that all young adults could experience LEAPNOW. I truly believe it would make our nation and the world a much better place. Please give our thanks to the LEAPNOW staff. There are too many to name but we so appreciate all the time and effort that went into making last weekend a memorable experience for all. We also appreciate the day in and day out effort than everyone puts forth to keep the program running.
I don’t know what the future holds for LEAPNOW or how many more years you plan to do this, but please feel free to use any or all my words as a resounding endorsement. Words often fail in truly expressing how we feel, but I felt it important to take the time to let you know how grateful I am. May your future be filled with joy and contentment and please know you will always have a fan here in Colorado Springs!
Best Wishes and Many Thanks,
Email received 9/4/11 from the mother of a student who completed LEAPYEAR in 2003:
At a point in my life when all I knew to do was surrender to the Divine, LEAPYEAR flew into my inbox on an angel's wing. My 18 year-old daughter,
who had always been brilliant and magical, was very lost. Because of her experience with LEAPYEAR and the loving and inspired leadership of Sam & Cassie
Bull and their team, the very first year of the program, she found herself again.
She healed issues with her Dad that went back at least 8 years to when we got divorced. She found a path that has served her well in life. And she found a tribe of friends that she is still very close to, even though they are scattered over at least 4 continents that I know of.
It has been ten years since my daughter traveled to California to begin her year of transformation. Today, she is happily married, starting a family, and confidently contributing the gift of her being to our world. LEAPYEAR was such a turning point in her life. I will always be grateful that she had that chance. I will always encourage any parent who wants more in life for their beloved child who hangs on the brink of adulthood to invest in this program
Dan is doing well down in Santa Barbara now, studying photography. The pace is insane but he is learning to go with the flow. LEAPNOW certainly prepared him for this :-)Note from a parent of a student currently traveling in India (10/23/2010) with her LEAPYEAR group:
Sarah called last Wednesday night. What a thrill to hear her voice. Who is that confident young woman? I reflect that it is very much the real Sarah Rose. "I'm thinking of an internship that is harder.....more meaningful than I thought at first," says Sarah. It sounds as if Dwabha (India program sponsor) and her whole group has had a profound influence on her outlook on life. Thanks so much for this wonderful experience and program. I could not have wished for anything more for Sarah Rose this year.Email rec'd 9/20/07 - from the father of a 2006 LEAPYEAR student who had a challenging internship in India in spring 2007:
Our daughter has started her freshman year at Scripps College in Claremont CA, part of the Claremont Consortium. Her year with LEAPNOW, with all of
its highs and lows, has made Hanna a vastly more mature and confident young adult. She absolutely adores Scripps and is thrilled to be there. A year ago
she was terrified and thinking seriously about going to a state school closer to home because she wasn't going to be able to compete with all those smart
kids. Now she's is psychologically "loaded for bear."
When she was at her lowest point in north India and witnessed how bleak the future was for so many young women there, I wrote to her and asked her to consider why Eleanor Scripps thought the world needed an all women's school and why she should attend one. Because of LEAPNOW she has an exceptional perspective on the opportunity that stands before her. She also has the confidence to make the most of Scripps and those opportunities that follow on from it.
In retrospect, I think she gained more from the troubles she faced, than anything else. I certainly wouldn't want her to be that sick and lonely again but she prevailed and is soaring now. Our Best Wishes to everyone at LEAPNOW for the coming year.
"Just a note to let you know that I frequently think of you and LEAPYEAR and the marvelous magic you wove into Jesse's life - and into mine as well.
The program was exactly what he needed at the time...to realize that his life has an internal focus and that he indeed is the "master of his fate and the
captain of his soul". You redefined my mission in life, vicariously, through his.
"He's doing such good work at this moment in his life: "A" work at the University of Oregon and many internship/volunteer programs with Spanish speaking immigrants. I am happy with him for the way his life has continued to blossom since LEAPYEAR. I have to admit, though, that I am glad that he has kept his essential "Jesse-ism"..... His brother visited him last week in Eugene to find him with a gigantic slingshot, transporting water balloons across the street into a park.
"Thank you again for creating, sponsoring and conducting such wonderful, meaningful work with young people and their parents."
"There is hardly a day goes by when I don't think about Isaac and the profoundly amazing year that he had with LEAPYEAR. I have been meaning to write a letter to you and all the staff, thanking you for all the opportunities that you provided. Your program is like walking down a hall with a thousand doors beckoning to be opened. I think it is hardest to write a thank you for the most profound things. If I had to say, "Thank you for the delicious meal," that would be easy. But LEAPNOW offers such an multifaceted program that touches so many parts of a person's heart and soul, that I honestly wouldn't know where to begin. It is ironic is that I am a writer, but you have me stumped! Just know that you are in my heart, both for what you did for Isaac, but what you also did for Michael and me. Your ceremony last February was meaningful beyond words."Parents of a son AND daughter in the 2004/05 program:
"I think our kids' experiences with LEAPYEAR are the most significant and transformational endeavors, not only of their lives, but of our whole family's. I know they both feel you guys are a part of their family (and ours) and that Maacama will always be a spiritual home for them. Thank you for what you have given us all."Wendy - LEAPYEAR 02/03 Parent:
"I want to let you know how much I appreciate your efforts in putting together such an amazing transformational weekend for the kids and parents last weekend... I am not one for ceremonies and rituals. I am Jewish and have struggled with Judaism all my life. I've never felt comfortable in a synagogue... and the rituals involved in the religion have never had meaning for me. I went into last weekend rather skeptical of the ceremonies you planned. They sounded somewhat corny on paper. Was I wrong! I found the sweat and the ceremonies both Friday and Saturday night to be filled with great meaning, love and joy in a way I've never experienced. I think marking the passage to adulthood for the kids was important for them and equally important for parents...Just being around so much love and caring and support had such a huge impact...the impact on parents being nearly as huge as the impact on the kids directly participating in it. Providing them the chance to take whatever time is needed, be it a year or longer, to just focus on themselves and begin to figure it out is huge... We never grow too old to take the time to look at our lives and to try to figure it out just a bit more.. I hope my other 3 boys, ages 11, 13 and 16 will find their way to you ...eventually. I can't imagine a better opportunity for them."Greg - LEAPYEAR 02/03 Parent:
"One of the most profound, joyful experiences I've had with anyone, was the experience I had with my daughter when we participated together in the LEAPYEAR rite of passage. You can quote me, pass on my address, or call on me to help in any way."Rachel - LEAPYEAR 02/03 Parent:
"You know for us it has been more than just another program. There has been no other place where we have been able to experience a holistic approach to facilitating intellectual and personal growth. I have believed that the "heart understands the mind" and in no other educational institution- if I may call it this for this moment- has there been care and attention to nurture these other realms of heart and spirit so sincerely. You have challenged my daughter and you have challenged me, and I too have grown as an adult and as a parent rather than continue as the passive participant in my daughter's education and personal growth experiences."